Renowned as the Rainbow Nation’s first Black mining entrepreneur, South African businesswoman Bridgette Radebe has carved a prominent place for herself on the African continent — she stands as one of the pioneering figures in the African mining industry, credited for her successful ventures in the field.
In the early stages of her mining career, Bridgette, fueled by the same determination as her brother, Patrice Motsepe, Africa’s first Black billionaire, and Southern Africa’s wealthiest Black billionaire, oversaw individual shaft mining operations, a pivotal factor in her subsequent success in the African business landscape.
In the 1980s, fueled by passion and unwavering determination, Radebe founded Mmakau Mining — an enterprise that would become a cornerstone of her success. Through this venture, she led the extraction of platinum, gold, and chrome—heralding a legacy that not only shaped the mining landscape in Southern Africa but also reverberated across the entire continent.
The financial milestones Bridgette Radebe achieved with Mmakau Mining caught the attention of her brother, Patrice Motsepe. In 1997, inspired by his sister’s journey, Motsepe acquired gold mines from AngloGold, laying the cornerstone for the birth of African Rainbow Minerals—a billion-dollar mining behemoth.
Beyond her triumphant leadership at Mmakau Mining, an avant-garde African mining group, Bridgette Radebe has played a pivotal role in propelling the growth of various companies—including those owned by her brother, Patrice Motsepe.
Billionaires.Africa has identified and cataloged numerous companies and holdings linked to Bridgette Radebe. Here are five companies she either founded, once owned, or served as a director:
- Founded in the 1980s by the visionary Bridgette Radebe, Mmakau Mining has evolved into one of Africa’s foremost mining companies. Initially operating as a contract miner, overseeing shafts and procuring for major mining houses, Radebe’s leadership propelled the company to ownership and development of its own mines in the early 1990s.
- Shaft Sinkers
- Under Bridgette Radebe’s guidance, Mmakau Mining expanded its expertise and mining services by acquiring a 36 percent shareholding in Shaft Sinkers (Pty) Ltd, a global leader in shaft-sinking and underground construction. The divestment of shares in December 2010 marked the conclusion of a seven-year chapter, leaving an enduring imprint on the industry.
- From August 2017 to November 2019, Bridgette Radebe held the role of a non-executive director and chairman of the nomination and remuneration committee at African Rainbow Capital Investments Limited. Established in 2015 by Patrice Motsepe, the company is a significant player in the South African and African financial services and diversified investments industries. It operates as a fully Black-owned and controlled entity under Ubuntu-Botho Investments (UBI), created in 2004 with the primary goal of building black-controlled capital.
- Adding a crucial chapter to her executive career, Bridgette Radebe served on the Board of Sappi Limited, a major player in the global pulp and paper industry, starting in May 2004. Her contributions extended to holding a position on the group’s Social, Ethics, Transformation, and Sustainability Committee from February 2012. Radebe’s departure from the board in February 2017 followed a period during which she provided fresh perspectives, leveraging her knowledge and experience to support Sappi’s growth.
- As the Founder and a member of the Board of Trustees of the New Africa Mining Fund, Bridgette Radebe champions the cause of junior mining companies, particularly empowerment companies, by providing financial support and skills. Despite early successes, one of its funds, The New Africa Mining Fund II (NAMF II), resolved to discontinue seeking new investment opportunities in response to the continuous downward trend in the junior mining industry since its commencement in 2011, as evidenced by the performance of publicly listed juniors.