This year, Sakhumnotho Group Holdings celebrates its 20thAnniversary. Though Sakhumnotho is a world-class Pan-African investment corporation, having participated in diverse transactions on its own and with other consortium groups valued in excess of R20 billion, it still sees itself as young at heart - with energy, optimism and a belief in Africa and its potential.
Prof. Sipho Mseleku, the President & CEO of Sakhumnotho Group Holdings, co-founded the company in 2000. Aside from holding BA (Hons), LLB and LLM (Tax) Law degrees and a Higher Diploma in Company Law from the University of the Witwatersrand, Prof. Mseleku has garnered extensive experience at home and across the continent. He has held positions such as President of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PACCI), President of the Convocation of the University of the Witwatersrand, CEO of the National African Federated Chambers of Commerce & Industry (NAFCOC), and CEO of the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ASCCI) to name but a few. He is also the fellow of the Institute of Directors of South Africa.
Despite his active involvement across Africa, Prof. Mseleku has always been drawn to the goal of starting his own business as an outward expression of his faith and his passion for people, the country and the continent. Through Sakhumnotho, he aimed to create a business that, not only made a profit, but made a difference. This ethos has been the driving force behind the success of Sakhumnotho over the last two decades. Today, as it was right from the beginning, Prof. Mseleku has prioritised growth on the foundations of ethics and morals, African upliftment and empowerment, and mutual benefit to all stakeholders.
Transforming balance sheets and communities.
Sakhumnotho started as a small consulting firm. While Prof. Mseleku is the first to admit that the first 6 years of business were tough, 20 years has seen the company grow to become a Pan African business with primary equity investment in a number of sectors and has been involved in transactions which are in excess of R20 billion in value The key sectors the Group invests in include: Oil and Gas; Financial Services; Industrial Pumps; Mining; Mining Services; Renewable Energy; Real Estate; Aviation; and Education. The Group also has a 100% stake in Mpilo Capital and Mpilo Advisory Services.
They also have a solid track record as a BEE long-term investor in the market. The company’s growth has been built on methodically constructed and calculated foundations that come from an in-depth understanding of the sectors they deal with. Prof. Mseleku attests that he has always been hesitant to take on just any business that comes his way. The importance of understanding the sector you are dealing with is paramount in ensuring success. “We’re looking for well-run companies with a strong management team, have beautiful cashflow, are resilient, that survive hard times and difficult seasons and, of course, have a strong balance sheet. As an investor, you look for companies that pay dividends because the transactions you participate in have to fund themselves.”
Achieving authentic broad-based empowerment objectives through transactions is also a key focus. As such, Sakhumnotho participates in several joint ventures with like-minded consortium partners - empowering small players to authentically achieve Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment. As Prof. Mseleku puts it; “Sakhumnotho was built with the dual purpose of creating wealth and building the economy. You can’t stand tall when all those around you are on their knees.”
While CSR as an afterthought has long been the modus operandi of large corporations, when Sakhumnotho opened its doors, it wove ‘building others up’ into its DNA. Prof. Mseleku and his team work closely with two non-profits and two foundations to try and make a difference in the lives of South Africans.
The two non-profits are the Global Business Roundtable (GBR) (NPC) and Global Fund For Jesus (GFFJ) (PBO). The Global Business Roundtable comprises global leaders from a variety of sectors, backgrounds and expertise. It is a networking organisation that focuses on the complete development of a person and boasts a presence in 82 countries across the world. The Global Fund For Jesus is a philanthropic organisation that serves as a vehicle for God’s people to follow the example of Jesus in facing the challenges of the less fortunate. Together, they have seen significant backing from Sakhumnotho Group Holdings over the last 10 years, with a backing of R200 million. The focus is mainly supporting educational programmes in schools as well as Entrepreneurship programmes.
In terms of the Foundations, the Fohloza Foundation works to empower faith-based beneficiaries, while the Sakhumnotho Foundation develops and implements educational and entrepreneurship projects that impact the needy in South Africa.
Creating advantage in a changing economy.
Having been born on the cusp of the new millennium, Sakhumnotho Group Holdings has witnessed every economic crisis that the 21st century has offered up so far, from 9/11 to the 2008 recession to COVID-19. If Winston Churchill’s well-known quote “never let a good crisis go to waste” holds true, then Sakhumnotho have had their fair share of crises to harness.
The secret to their success lies in the fact that they are built for change. “A business can’t be built for success,” explains Prof. Mseleku, “unless it is first built for change. This is our advantage in an agile economy. We have created a diverse business so sound in its values, purpose and mission that it has engineered a solid foundation for agility and quick thinking. We are able to twist and pivot at a moment’s notice without losing focus.”
Above all else, Prof. Mseleku stresses the company’s lifelong commitment to good corporate governance and business ethics. “Our Board of Directors works very hard to ensure legal compliance every step of the way, and we are continually monitoring the company’s performance against our values which guide how we conduct business and interact with our stakeholders.”
So, what about the next 10 years? According to Prof Mseleku, Sakhumnotho has ambitious plans to grow in Africa and globally. “In the next decade, we aim to diversify our sectors, our markets and our regions.”
The sustainability of the Group depends on the ongoing seeking out of new opportunities, investment in bigger, more profitable businesses, and the continuous creation of impact in the lives of people, particularly in the communities where they operate. This includes villages, rural areas, townships and remote areas where solutions are needed most. As Prof. Mseleku puts it, “The potential in Africa is limitless. Our aim as a business is to grow that potential and create prosperity for stakeholders and the continent as a whole.”