Build­ing a ro­bust busi­ness em­pire

Finweek English Edition - - SPOTLIGHT -

In­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed en­tre­pre­neur was re­cently hon­oured with a Life­time Achieve­ment Award at the South African Pre­mier Busi­ness Awards. A med­i­cal doc­tor by train­ing, she has come a long way from her days as a med­i­cal of­fi­cer at Ga-Rankuwa Hos­pi­tal (now known as Dr Ge­orge Mukhari Hos­pi­tal) in the north of Pre­to­ria.

Be­sides hold­ing a num­ber of d i r e c t or s h i ps in l isted c o mpa n i e s , in­clud­ing AfroCentric In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, which fo­cuses mainly on the health­care sec­tor, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal group Ad­cock In­gram and re­tail gi­ant Sho­prite, Mok­gokong also sits on the boards of a num­ber of pri­vate com­pa­nies.

One of t hese i s em­pow­er­ment com­pany Com­mu­nity In­vest­ment Hold­ings (CIH), which she co-founded with Joe Madun­gand­aba in 1995. She says that while she is a BEE player, she never had a sense of en­ti­tle­ment that as a black woman she should have em­pow­er­ment trans­ac­tions handed to her on a sil­ver plat­ter. In­stead, she has had to hunt for such op­por­tu­ni­ties and worked hard to get them.

“CIH i s now i n si x dif fer­ent sec­tors: health­care, lo­gis­tics, en­ergy, in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment, min­ing and ICT. Founded 20 years ago [as Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal Man­age­ment] and re­branded CIH in 2000, it has been a typ­i­cal black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment in­vest­ment hold­ing com­pany that’s gone through the mo­tions of BEE. But now we are at a stage of con­sol­i­da­tion and nar­row­ing our in­ter­est into fewer, but stronger and more ro­bust in­vest­ments,” says Mok­gokong. This in­cludes Ta­masa In­vest­ment Hold­ings, a new ven­ture with a fo­cus on the en­ergy sec­tor. There i s a l ways a c r i t i c i s m t hat peo­ple with mul­ti­ple di­rec­tor­ships a re over- com­mit­ted, Mok­gokong says. “But who is ac­tu­ally mea­sur­ing that and mea­sur­ing what you do? It’s a per­cep­tion. Peo­ple must be al­lowed to take on the kind of re­spon­si­bil­ity they be­lieve they can han­dle. What I like is within the board we’ve got a peer re­view sys­tem that re­views your ef­fec­tive­ness as a board mem­ber; no longer do you sit there to have cof­fee and t hen go away. A l ot more i s ex­pected of board mem­bers.”

She t urns down a lot of re­quests for ap­point­ments on boards; t he di­rec­tor­ships she takes on must be of strate­gic value to her per­sonal and busi­ness in­ter­ests, Mok­gokong says.

“Why am I on the board of Sho­prite, which is the largest re­tailer in Africa? It’s be­cause I’ve gone there to learn how you ac­tu­ally run a busi­ness of that size and na­ture; what it takes to be so suc­cess­ful.”

This i s i mpor­tant be­cause she never got a for­mal busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion, ex­plains Mok­gokong. “My train­ing has been at the uni­ver­sity of ex­pe­ri­ence and of life. And I must say I have learnt a lot from the Sho­prite board and I take that knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tion to the other boards that I ei­ther chair or I’m part of.” Last year, busi­ness­man Brian Joffe, who also serves as chair­man of Ad­cock In­gram fol­low­ing Bid­vest’s sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment in the group, ap­pointed Mok­gokong as a non-ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor. Although she had not planned such a move, she wel­comed her ap­point­ment to this role.

“Ad­cock In­gram was an ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bilit y, but since I’m in the health­care space and I have been there since the 80s, for me it was a walk in the park to move into Ad­cock. I’m used to that, to me it’s not new,” she says. “I still ap­ply the in­for­ma­tion and the knowl­edge I gath­ered as a med­i­cal doc­tor in busi­ness to­day. When I sit on the board of Ad­cock, I know how a doc­tor who pre­scribes those medicines thinks.”

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