Home » South African entrepreneur Wendy Appelbaum shakes up business and philanthropy in South Africa

South African entrepreneur Wendy Appelbaum shakes up business and philanthropy in South Africa

by Victor Adetimilehin
Wendy Appelbaum

Wendy Appelbaum, a prominent South African entrepreneur and philanthropist, is recognized as one of the wealthiest and most influential women in Africa. Born in 1962 to Donald Gordon, the founder of Liberty Group, Wendy’s journey is a confirmation of her business innovation and commitment to making society a better place. With an estimated net worth of R2.6 billion ($138.2 million), she has left an indelible mark on both the business and philanthropic landscapes.

Appelbaum’s career began at her father’s company, the Liberty Group, where she served as a director at Liberty Investors. Not only was she a significant shareholder, but she also played a notable role in the company’s growth. Wendy later sold her shares, and this contributed significantly to her wealth.

In 1994, Appelbaum co-founded Wiphold to empower women, particularly those who lack access to, knowledge of, or proficiency in certain technical or technological tools, and systems. Wiphold, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), became a platform for women to learn about investments and financial growth. After five years, Appelbaum exited the company, selling her shares to further the inclusion of previously disadvantaged women.

In 2003, Appelbaum, alongside her husband Hylton Appelbaum, ventured into the wine industry by acquiring De Morgenzon Wine Estate. Located in Stellenbosch, the 224-acre vineyard has flourished in the wine market and significantly contributed to Wendy’s net worth.

Contributions and achievements

Apart from her business prowess, Appelbaum is known for her substantial philanthropic contributions, totaling more than $23 million. Wiphold, co-founded by Wendy, plays a crucial role in tutoring women in townships and rural areas in basic finance and business skills. The company also facilitates group investments in shares, empowering women economically.

Wendy established the Wendy Appelbaum Foundation to address education concerns among South African women, focusing on creating opportunities for their advancement. In 2011, Wendy established the Wendy Appelbaum Institute for Women’s Health, dedicated to ensuring that women across South Africa receive appropriate healthcare attention.

Her philanthropic efforts revolve around various issues, with donations exceeding $23 million (R274 million). Her conscious efforts show her commitment to creating a tangible societal impact.

Appelbaum’s journey from Liberty Investors to becoming one of Africa’s richest women shows a notable mix of business innovation and philanthropic spirit. Her success in various business ventures, coupled with her notable contributions to societal causes, upholds her status as an inspirational figure in both business and philanthropy. Wendy’s story is a narrative of vision, impact, and a commitment to making the world a better place.

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