Bridget Motsepe-Radebe started as an ordinary miner in the 1980s managing shafts.
Harboring bigger dreams, Motsepe-Radebe would go on to launch Mmakau Mining, one of Africa’s most significant mining companies, making her the first black female South African deep-level-hard rock mining entrepreneur.
From a contract miner, managing shafts and procuring for the large mining houses, the company graduated to ownership and development of its own mines in the early 1990s.
A pioneering mining company, Mmakau’s interests are in platinum, gold, uranium, coal, and ferrochrome assets.
As the president of the South African Mining Development Association, Motsepe-Radebe is also a member of the New Africa Mining Fund and the Chair of the International Women’s Forum SA, among other positions.
For countless occasions, Motsepe-Radebe slammed what she termed as the “capitalist mining model” and has been providing solutions to a problem she identified.
She said at the end of apartheid, 83 percent of the natural resources belonged to the minority whites while at the moment, some 91 percent of the same resources belong to corporate bodies.
Among the solutions she has been proposing are “a complete nationalization of all mining operations, a state buyout of the mining operations of dwindling profitability in the name of black empowerment and a co-operation movement between public and private sectors over the running of South Africa’s mines.”
Worth 1.3 billion South African rand ($88 million), Motsepe-Radebe received an “International Businessperson of the Year Award” in May 2008 by the Global Foundation for Democracy.
The award recognizes business people who have made a difference in the world of changing political and environmental landscapes.
At the moment, scores of women are making moves in business and impacting their economies in tremendous ways.
In Nigeria, 37-year-old Nere Teriba recently made history by becoming the first and youngest Nigerian to refine gold locally.
Teriba has broken into one of the most difficult industries in Nigeria to become the owner of the country’s first gold refinery. She started with trading in minerals, specifically lead, and has continued to move up in the $2 trillion mining value chain.
She said she learned doggedness from her father, the former Olu of Warri but her business achievements are so massive they couldn’t have been due to her background.
She noted they are supernatural. Nonetheless, her achievements, according to her, are not without challenges, adding there is no cloud without a silver lining.
Through her company Kian Smith Trade & Co., Teriba wants to develop Africa’s mining industry, starting from Nigeria and West Africa.
She is bent on solving Nigeria’s challenges of not getting royalties from artisanal and small scale miners (ASMs), who, according to her, produce most of the minerals in circulation in the West African country.
Additionally, Teriba is aiding miners to get more from mining while formalizing their operations and helping them adopt sustainable mining practices.