Naspers, the most valuable company in Africa, has appointed a new chief executive for its South African unit and made history in the process.
Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, 48, takes on the role and becomes the company’s first female and first black chief executive. Her appointment follows a long streak of white, male CEOs leading the 104-year old company.
As CEO for the South Africa unit, Mahanyele-Dabengwa will lead its daily business activities and also manage the company’s long-held desire to make successful tech investment bets in Africa.
Mahanyele-Dabengwa will now lead Naspers’ drive for major African tech startup wins with a $314 million fund announced last October. She will also oversee Naspers Labs, a social impact and skills acquisition initiative for South Africa’s unemployed youth. Mahanyele-Dabengwa will report to Bob van Dijk, Group CEO of Naspers.
One of Mahanyele-Dabengwa’s first key tasks will likely involve managing the transition as Naspers prepares to list its international assets on Euronext, the European stock exchange based in Amsterdam. When listed in September, Prosus (as the new company has been named) will likely be the largest listed consumer internet group in Europe by asset value, Naspers says.
Mahanyele-Dabengwa was the ForbesWoman Africa 2014, Business Woman Southern African winners of 2014 All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLAs). She was named one of the “20 Youngest Power Women In Africa” in 2011 by Forbes, “Top 50 women in the world to watch in 2008” by The Wall Street Journal and in 2007, she was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Global Young Leader.
She has previously been chief executive of Shanduka Group, an investment company founded by Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa and also has held key board positions at the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation and mobile operator Vodacom Group.