Top 10 Richest Zimbabwe citizens
Zimbabwe’s richest top 10. Based on figures & wealth inherited or accumulated (2017).
1. Strive Masiyiwa ($1.4 Billion) – Econet Group
Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality.
Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation’s Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education.
Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa.
In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans.
Strive Masiyiwa with Bill Gates and Dr Paul Farmer at a Forbes event.
In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.
BUSINESS CAREER AND INTERESTS
Strive Masiyiwa returned to his native Zimbabwe in 1984 after a 17-year absence. After working briefly as a telecoms engineer for the state-owned telephone company, he quit his job and set up his own company with the equivalent of US$75. In five years, he had emerged as one of the country’s leading industrialists, having built a large electrical engineering business. The emergence of mobile cellular telephony led him to diversify into telecoms, but he soon ran into major problems when the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe refused to give him a license to operate his business, known as Econet Wireless.
Masiyiwa appealed to the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe, on the basis that the refusal constituted a violation of “freedom of expression”. The Zimbabwean court, then one of the most respected on the continent, ruled in his favour after a five-year legal battle, which took him to the brink of bankruptcy. The ruling, which led to the removal of the state monopoly in telecommunications, is regarded as one of the key milestones in opening the African telecommunications sector to private capital. The company’s first cellphone subscriber was connected to the new network in 1998.
Masiyiwa listed Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in July 1998 on the local stock exchange as gesture of thanks to reward the thousands of ordinary people who supported him during his long legal battles against the Zimbabwean government. Today, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has gone on to become a major business that dominates the Zimbabwe economy. It is currently the second-largest company in Zimbabwe by market capitalisation.
In March 2000, Masiyiwa left Zimbabwe, never to return to the country, and moved first to South Africa, where he founded The Econet Wireless Group, a new and completely separate organisation to the listed Zimbabwean entity.
His main interest remained in telecoms. Some of the key businesses that he established with partners included Econet Wireless International, Econet Wireless Global, Mascom Wireless Botswana, Econet Wireless Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria), Econet Satellite Services, Lesotho Telecom, Econet Wireless Burundi, Rwanda Telecom, Econet Wireless South Africa, Solarway, and Transaction Processing Systems (TPS). He also has interests in mobile operations in New Zealand, Bolivia, and Dominican Republic. The company he created is known to have operations and investments, in more than 20 countries, including the United Kingdom, US, Latin America, and New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, and China.
After more than ten years in South Africa, Masiyiwa moved to London; however, he still retains significant business interests in South Africa.
Econet Wireless Group (Econet)
Econet Wireless (Econet) is a privately held global telecommunications company with business operations and investments in more than 20 countries in Africa, Latin America, The United Kingdom, Europe, China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and New Zealand. The only listed entity is its Zimbabwean subsidiary. The Zimbabwean business is often mistaken as the holding company, because it is listed.
Masiyiwa also has interests in the United States of America (USA). He has partnered with one of America’s leading telecoms entrepreneurs, John Stanton, in a venture called Trilogy International Partners, which built New Zealand’s third mobile network operator known as “2 Degrees”. Masiyiwa’s investment in Seattle based Trilogy International, have also helped him secure interests as an investor in Viva’s Bolivia and Dominican Republic businesses. Masiyiwa also has a controlling interest in a company based in Vermont USA, that manufacturers nano fibre carbon products, called Seldon Technologies.
One of Masiyiwa’s most successful ventures is the London-based privately held Liquid Telecom Group, Africa’s largest satellite and fibre optic business spanning over 14 countries.
Other activities of Econet include enterprise networks, financial services, renewable energy, and solar-powered solutions (Solarway Industries).
There are no reliable estimates of Masiyiwa’s wealth, because the vast majority of his business investments are held in private businesses. The only publicly known information is that of his listed business in Zimbabwe, the country he left 15 years ago. Based on this, Forbes Magazine estimates put Masiyiwa’s personal wealth at US$600 million. Ventures Africa recently estimated Masiyiwa to be worth over US$1.4 billion.
2. John Bredenkamp ($793m)-Logistics,Mining & Commodities
John Arnold Bredenkamp (born 11 August 1940) is a Zimbabwean businessman and former rugby player. He is the founder of the Casalee Group.
Born in Kimberley, South Africa, Bredenkamp moved with his family to Southern Rhodesia while he was still a child. He was orphaned in his mid-teens on his birthday when while he was riding his bike, on return he found his father had shot his mother and sister and then shot himself. His sister survived the shooting. He was educated in Southern Rhodesia at Prince Edward School, Salisbury. Of Dutch ancestry, Bredenkamp registered as a Rhodesian citizen in 1958. He is reported to have lost Zimbabwean citizenship “by default” in 1984, but this was restored to him shortly thereafter.
Bredenkamp is reported to hold Zimbabwean, South African and Dutch passports. The matter of his nationality was a matter of dispute with some Zimbabwean officials towards the end of 2006.
As a Rugby Union international, he captained Rhodesia from 1965 to 1968.
After his graduation, Bredenkamp joined Gallaher Limited, an international tobacco company in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), as a leaf buyer. In 1968 he was transferred to Niemeyer in the Netherlands, where he rose to the position of leaf director.
After leaving Gallaher in 1976 Bredenkamp founded the Casalee Group of companies registered in Antwerp, Belgium. It is believed that the Casalee operation was involved in the sale of Rhodesian tobacco on world markets, through evasion of UN sanctions. Casalee was primarily a leaf tobacco merchanting company but was also engaged in general trading and an active initiator of counter trade and barter deals. The Casalee Group grew over 16 years to become the fifth largest tobacco merchant in the world and the biggest non-US leaf tobacco company. The Group employed 2,500 people and had offices in all the major tobacco growing countries in the world including the USA (Winston-Salem), Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and Yugoslavia. The company owned tobacco-processing factories in the Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Brazil.
The Casalee Group of companies was sold in 1993 to Universal Leaf Tobacco, the largest leaf tobacco company in the world. Since then, Bredenkamp has expanded his business interests into many other different areas, mainly through the Zimbabwe registered Breco company.
In April 2016, The Guardian reported that Bredenkamp has an “estimated £700m fortune from tobacco trading, grey-market arms dealing, sports marketing and diamond mining.
3. Nicholas van Hoogstraten ($750m) -Investments
Nicholas van Hoogstraten (born Nicholas Marcel Hoogstraten;25 February 1945) is a British businessman and real estate magnate.
Van Hoogstraten is known for his business empire as well as his controversial life story: in 1968, he was convicted and sent to prison for paying a gang to attack a business associate.In 2002, he was sentenced to 10 years for the manslaughter of a business rival; the verdict was overturned on appeal and he was subsequently released, but in 2005 he was ordered to pay the victim’s family £6 million in a civil case. He has been estimated to be worth £500 million, although he claims his assets in the UK have all been placed in the names of his children.
He has been a close associate of Robert Mugabe, whom he describes as “100 per cent decent and incorruptible”; van Hoogstraten has said he “[does not] believe in democracy, I believe in rule by the fittest.”In 2005 announced plans to take over NMB, a major Zimbabwe bank, though he sold his stake in the bank for over £1 million in late 2007. In 2009, it was reported he had been “a generous contributor to Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party and [had] bought into several large state-owned companies.” In January 2006 he stated in an interview with The Sunday Times that, as a result of loaning £10 million to Mugabe, “In six months’ time, when the interest is due, it would be cheaper for them to just kill me”.
On 26 January 2008, he was arrested in Harare for allegedly demanding payment in US dollars for rents rather than in Zimbabwean dollars, which is forbidden under Zimbabwean law. He was charged with violating the Censorship Act by possessing pornography and held in custody for five nights but released on bail. On 3 July 2009, it was reported that a Zimbabwe court had dismissed the charges of illegal currency dealing and possession of pornography: the police were unable to produce the officer who had allegedly caught him on the currency charge and they had seized the allegedly pornographic photos without a warrant.
Van Hoogstraten told Lynn Barber, writing for The Observer in 2006, that he pays for the education of three children in every school in Zimbabwe: “Actually, it doesn’t cost a lot of money in real terms, but I’ve set up things like that that will continue.”
Van Hoogstraten emigrated to Zimbabwe. By 2013, he owned over 1,600 square miles (4,100 km2) of land including Central Estates, owned mineral rights in the Marange diamond fields, as well as houses in Harare, all of which are patrolled and protected by state officers managed by the Joint Operations Command. He has businesses in Equatorial Guinea, and mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Billy Rautenbach, also known as Muller Conrad Rautenbach, is a wealthy Zimbabwean businessman. In the mid 1990s, Rautenbach’s business empire had spread to more than a dozen African countries earning him the nickname “Napoleon of Africa”.
Billy Rautenbach lives on his farm on the outskirts of Harare with his family, and is involved in natural land conservation. He and his son Conrad have been active in rally racing.
Billy Rautenbach’s business ventures involves trucking, car manufacturing, farming and mining in several African countries. After expanding the family business, Wheels of Africa, into the largest trucking company on the African continent, he turned to car assembling, greatly increasing the market share of Hyundai in South Africa. Circa 2004, tax evasion charges were soon leveled against him by the South African authorities resulting in asset forfeiture worth 50 million rands, which forced him to leave South Africa. The National Prosecuting Authority failed to secure a conviction and withdrew the charges two years later. Although his personal assets were returned, the legal battles against tax evasion charges cost him the Hyundai business and earned him a lot of negative publicity. Rautenbach continued to have substantial mining activities in South Africa. In 2006, Central African Mining & Exploration Company plc (CAMEC), a company Rautenbach became involved with, and listed on the London stock exchange, acquired various mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
With the assistance of his father’s trucking business, contacts in transporting minerals, and using innovative mining techniques, he successfully mined state owned companies and attracted the attention of the government. With the eye of an outsider, he developed a different technique and out-mined the state company in a very short period of time: “We did it very selectively. We slowed down the process and picked it out in very high grade and with very little investment.” Billy’s unorthodox approach was highly successful, and showed the massive inefficiency of the state-run enterprises. In 1998, Laurent Kabila offered Billy a chance to lead state-owned Gecamines. Despite initial reluctance, he finally accepted, and in doing so, successfully turned around the fortunes of the company by cutting costs and improving efficiencies. However, the rebel-infested country began to create trouble for the Congolese government who, in a search of funds, issued allegations of misappropriation of corporate assets. Allegations also surfaced that he was financing the Congo war. Rautenbach has denied any allegations of financing the DRC war, logically stating that he was in business in the Congo long before the war broke out: “I started mining in the Congo about a year before the war started. So all of a sudden, the war is there because of me. It’s unbelievable.” “We were very active there in getting the production going, in turning around things. We were possibly affecting people’s commercial interests … I set up a little mine there, and out-produced the major cobalt producers in the world in one year. They spend billions of dollars putting up a plant and I come there as a farmer – me and my dad – and we got the stuff out of the ground.” However, stories continued circulating: allegations that he was Mugabe’s right-hand man, that he had bribed Kabila into securing his mining concessions, and that his mines were financing Zimbabwe’s soldiers in the DRC. To date, there have not been any substantiation on claims of Billy Rautenbach’s links to Robert Mugabe and the European Union struck him off the targeted sanctions list in February 2012.
More about Billy
5. Zed Koudonaris ($734m)-Innscor Africa & Property
Zinona Koudounaris, commonly known as Zed Koudounaris, is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur known mostly for having co-founded Innscor Africa Limited which owns the following companies Profeeds, Baker’s Inn, National Foods, Irvine’s, Colcom, Capri, NatPakInnscor Africa Limited engages in the manufacture, distribution, and retail of fast moving and durable consumer goods in Zimbabwe and internationally. The company operates through Light Manufacturing, Logistics and Distribution, and Retail and Wholesale segments. It is also involved in the milling of flour and maize; manufacture of stock feeds, edible oils, and bakers’ fats; and production, processing, and marketing of pork and related food products, as well as the production of chicken, table eggs.
6. Ken Sharpe ($690m)-Real Estate
Ken was born on the 27thof January, 1973 in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). He spent his childhood in the colonized country until he was forced to depart for neighboring South Africa during it’s violent civil war in 1978. He would later return to the landlocked Zimbabwe after it gained its independence in 1980. Upon his arrival back, seven year old Ken was catapulted into a new era of social change, cultural integration and uncertainty from a land he used to be familiar with.
Ken established one of the most effective mechanisms to compete with the Coca Cola Company. He created mini bottling units, which IFB sold as complete turnkey projects under a franchise scheme, which would use brands and other raw materials he created. In 2003, he sold his interests.
Over the last 20 years the business has ripened into the Holdings Company “West Group.” Some of the visions have been: West Food Distribution, West Beverages (bottling), West Agencies, Intercrop (Agri Inputs), West Sanitary Pads Manufacturing, West Oils (edible Oils), FellowGold Mining and West Properties and Augur Investments Ltd (Real Estate Development).
Sam Levy was a businessman and property developer who constructed the popular Sam Levy Village, an upmarket shopping mall in the northern suburb of Borrowdale that resembled an English town setting. He was counted among the richest in Zimbabwe at the time of his death. He is one of the most celebrated business people in Zimbabwe.
More about Sam Levy Here
8. Michael Fowler ($645m) – Diversified
Michael J. Fowler is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur known for having co-founded Innscor. Fowler has served as Non-Executive Director of Innscor Africa Limited since July 1994. Michael Fowler is a co-founder of Innscor and has held a number of managerial positions within the Group including a period during which he served as Group Chief Executive Officer. Michael was a key driver behind the Group’s investment into its crocodile ranching operations where he has remained as an executive director since its unbundling and separate listing on the ZSE in 2010. He is member of the Remuneration Committee and Member of the Nomination Committee of the Company.
In May 2016, an investigation into the Panama Papers revealed that Michael Fowler and his business partner, Zinona Koudounaris, operating through lawyers and accountants, had opened four companies in the British Virgin Islands and transferred money from their salaries to the firms in 2015. This was apparently in violation of Zimbabwe’s laws which prevent money earned in Zimbabwe from being transferred to offshore accounts unless approved by the central bank.
9. Ian Saunders ($590m) – Mining
Mr. Ian R. Saunders is Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at Falcon Gold Zimbabwe Ltd. and President, Chief Executive Officer & Director at New Dawn Mining Corp.
He is on the Board of Directors at Central African Gold Plc, Olympus Gold Mines Ltd., and New Dawn Mining Corp. Ian R. Saunders, age 45, holds a BSc. in Chemical Engineering from University of Cape Town, South Africa, and a Post graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the University of Natal, South Africa. Mr. Saunders has 20 years of experience in the mining industry. In April 1996, Mr. Saunders joined Casmyn Mining Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (“Casmyn Zim”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Corporation, as Chief Metallurgist and assumed the position of General Manager in October 1997. In January 2004, he was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Casmyn Zim and in October 2006 he was also appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of the Corporation. On January 25, 2008, he was appointed as a director and in February 2008 was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation. Prior to his employment with Casmyn Zim, Mr. Saunders was employed in a variety of technical and managerial roles in South Africa and Zimbabwe. On July 8, 2010, Mr. Saunders was appointed to the board of directors of Central African Gold Limited (formerly known as Central African Gold Plc and listed on the alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange), an indirect subsidiary of the Corporation, and director of Falcon Gold Zimbabwe Limited, an indirect subsidiary of the Corporation listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Cape Town.
10. John Moxon ($500m)-Miekles Africa
John Moxon, born 02-11-1944 is the Chairman of Meikles Consolidated Holdings Limited. He Joined the Meikles Group in 1970. He is the chair of Meikles Africa Limited.
John Ralph Thomas Moxon, born on 2 November 1944, is a prominent business person with interests in Zimbabwe’s retail, banking, insurance and properties and mining industries in Zimbabwe. He’s mostly known for his position as the Executive Director of Meikles Limited which is one of Zimbabwe’s most successful companies
Moxon joined Meikles group in 1970. In 1980, he was appointed chair of Tanganda Tea Limited which was an affiliate entity of Meikles Africa Limited. In 1983, he was appointed the Chairman of Meikles Consolidated Holdings Private Limited. In 1996 he was appointed non-executive chairman of Meikles Africa in the Department of Consumer Goods Fashion and Retail. He was re-appointed Chairman of Meikles Limited in June 2011.
Moxon has interests in different business areas. These include the retail sector in which he has a considerable stake in Greatermans Stores which is a local departmental store. He also has interests in TM Supermarkets which has branches countrywide in Zimbabwe. In 2014, Moxon entered into the banking sector through his signing of a memorandum of agreement with TN Holdings led by Tawanda Nyambirai. He also made unsuccessful attempts to enter into a partnership with Nigel Chanakira’s Kingdom Bank but the deal ended bitterly due to some irregularities. [Pindula]