The Most Successful Business Women in South Africa

Updated on 13 January 2023

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From top left to bottom right: Wendy Appelbaum, Arlene Mulder, Nneile Nkholise, Dineo Lioma, Bridgette Radebe, Sarah Collins and Dr. Judy Dlamini.

There are many inspiring business women in South Africa who have disrupted and innovated various industries. While we always hear about South African male business leaders, female business women are often overlooked. To help get you inspired and learn more about our top women in business, here are eight of the most successful business women in South Africa. These business women cover various industries.

Wendy Appelbaum

With an estimated net worth of around R2.6 billion, Wendy Appelbaum is one of the most successful business women in South Africa.She became a director at Liberty Investors relatively early on in her career and now acts as the chairperson of De Morgenzon Wine Estate – among other titles. Appelbaum was recognised as one of the top female entrepreneurs in the world in 2006.

Arlene Mulder

Arlene Mulder is a leading entrepreneur and innovator in Africa’s tech startup space. She won the Forbes Woman Africa Technology and Innovation award in 2019 and has also worked as a global ambassador for She Loves Tech. Mulder founded SheLovesCode, a not-for-profit organisation focused on advancing Africa’s digital education space. She has also founded BiB, the first audio library app in Africa.

Dineo Lioma

Dineo Lioma co-founded Deep Medical Therapeutics, Incitech, and CapeBio Technologies – three innovative companies in the biotechnology space. She has also been nominated as one of Forbes Woman Africa’s Top 20 Wealth Creators. Lioma has achieved such major successes thanks to being on the cusp of helping South Africa embrace new technologies and innovations in the healthcare sphere.

Nneile Nkholise

Another innovative entrepreneur in the biotechnology space, Nneile Nkholise was named the top female innovator in Africa in 2016 and 2018 by the World Economic Forum. She has also been featured on Forbes’ Africa’s 30 under 30 list. Nkholise achieved this success by being the founder and director of iMED Tech, an innovative medical prostheses and bio-implants company. She also founded 3DIMO more recently, a company focused on the livestock space.

Bridgette Radebe

Bridgette Radebe started her career as a manager of individual shaft mining operations. She has excelled in her career path since then and went on to start the Mmakau Mining firm in 1980, which has seen major success over the years. This is what has helped her achieve an estimated net worth of R1 billion. Beyond being one of the most successful business women in South Africa, Radebe is also the president of the South African Mining Development Association, a member of the New Africa Mining Fund, and she serves on the Sappi Board.

Mayleen Kyster Nduli

Mayleen Kyster Nduli is the founder of African Steel Holdings – a company she started when the steel industry in South Africa was barely surviving. Today, African Steel Holdings is a leader in the raw, manufactured, and fabricated steel industry. They supply steel to a majority of South African construction projects. Nduli has been recognised by the Steel and Engineering Federation of Southern Africa for innovating the local steel industry.

Sarah Collins

When it comes to business women in South Africa, Sarah Collins is one of the most exciting entrepreneurs focused on social activism. She started Wonderbag, a company focused on providing an empowering and sustainable solution for rural African communities. This is achieved through her heat-retention cooker that doesn’t use any electricity. Sarah Collins has won the Climate Change Leadership award, and her company was listed in Time’s 50 Most Genius Companies in 2018. This came after Wonderbag was recognized as the fastest-growing carbon offset project in Africa.

Dr Judy Dlamini

Dr Judy Dlamini is the owner and executive chair of Mbekani Group – a company that houses various investment and operational businesses. This includes Jimmy Choo and Luminance. Dr Dlamini also acts as the Chancellor of Wits University. Before starting her own entrepreneurial venture, Dr Dlamini was the senior manager for HSBC South Africa. Being one of the most successful business women in South Africa, she has an estimated net worth of R124 million.

If you’re looking for inspiration, then these successful South African business women should provide it. Their stories may differ, but each entrepreneur has excelled through being an innovative leader within their industry.

All of their stories show us just how much potential there is for women in South Africa’s business landscape. With the right idea and inspiration, anyone can achieve major success.


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