Billionaire Johann Rupert’s incredible charity work in South Africa

 ·30 May 2024

South Africa’s richest person, Johann Rupert, is behind hundreds of philanthropic and charitable causes, including giving land and houses to poor communities.

The latest Forbes and Bloomberg billionaire indexes estimate Rupert’s net wealth to be between R210 billion and R250 billion.

Most of his wealth comes from his family’s significant shareholding in the Switzerland-based luxury goods holding company Compagnie Financière Richemont.

Rupert founded Richemont in 1988. The company produces and sells jewellery, watches, leather goods, pens, firearms, clothing, and accessories.

As of 31 March 2024, Rupert was the only significant shareholder. He owns 10% of the company’s equity and controls 51% of the company’s voting rights.

Richemont owns many leading global luxury brands, such as Cartier, Montblanc, Dunhill, Chloé, Panerai, Delvaux, Van Cleef & Arpels, Vhernier, and Watchfinder & Co.

Under Rupert’s leadership, Richemont became the third-largest luxury goods company in the world after LVMH and Hermes.

Rupert also owns a large stake in the South African investment holding company Remgro, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

Remgro has a diversified investment portfolio that includes healthcare and finance, industrial companies, consumer products, and infrastructure.

Very few South Africans do not engage with a company linked to Rupert’s local investments every day.

Through Remgro, he has a stake in Mediclinic, Outsurance, Heineken, eMedia, RCL Foods, TotalEnergies, FirstRand, Discovery, Momentum, and Metropolitan.

Whether you dunk an Ouma rusk, put Selati sugar in your coffee, or feed your dog Epol, Bobtail, or Dogmor, it all forms part of Rupert’s portfolio.

Rupert is also a major shareholder in Reinet, an investment vehicle that holds the family’s interest in cigarette maker British American Tobacco.

Reinet also has other financial interests, including a shareholding in the Pension Insurance Corporation Group, private equity, specialist investment funds, and land developments.

Rupert has won many awards and distinctions, including being voted Most Influential Leader in South Africa an unprecedented three times.

He has also been named Business Leader of the Year on many occasions and was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow.

Rupert is well-known for promoting a healthy society and supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses.

He is a founding member of the Small Business Development Corporation, now called Business Partners, which has created over half a million jobs in South Africa.

Johann Rupert

While Rupert and his family are known for building a global business empire, they are also leaders in philanthropic and charitable endeavours.

Their charitable projects range from supporting educational institutions and educational programmes to environmental causes.

It started under Johann’s father, Anton Rupert.  He was a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Peace Parks Foundation.

Anton Rupert’s various endowments have secured his legacy in African and South African conservation.

The Rupert family has supported the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the SA College for Tourism, and Ikamva Labantu.

Johann Rupert’s Education Foundation supports numerous educational development initiatives in South Africa.

These initiatives have been instrumental in uplifting and supporting children and youth nationwide.

They support numerous projects aimed at developing and supporting teachers and provide academic, psycho-social, and other support for learners.

Rupert has a deep love for sport. He regularly comments on golf, rugby, and other sports under his X profile, Cutmaker.

He is using his wealth to advance sport in society and played a pivotal role in founding the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

The foundation uses the power of sports to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people worldwide.

He also co-founded the Sports Science Institute at the University of Cape Town. It includes a gym, personal training education centre, and sports performance centre.

He was inducted into the South African Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and the South African Golf Hall of Fame in 2009.

The Rupert Art Foundation, established in 1984, furthers the visual and applied arts in all their facets.

The family is also behind the Rupert Museum, Rupert Music Foundation, Rupert Nature Foundation, and Rupert Historical Homes.

They further support the South African Tourism College, Hospitality Training, Tracker Training, the Herding Academy, and Imibala Trust.

A project Johann Rupert and his wife are particularly passionate about is giving poor communities land and houses.

The Rupert family has sponsored thousands of title deeds in the Western Cape, including Stellenbosch and Graaf Reinet.

They support the Khaya Lam initiative, which helps underprivileged South Africans get title deeds for their houses.

The Free Market Foundation and First National Bank (FNB) launched the Khaya Lam Land Reform Project to give title deeds and create wealth in poor communities.

The project’s mission is to assist communities in converting their apartheid-era leasehold titles to freehold titles.

The Rupert family committed funding to housing and land projects in the Western and Eastern Cape and the Free State.

They have pledged over 10,000 titles through the Khaya Lam initiative, transforming families’ lives by giving them title deeds for their homes.

Owning the homes they live in gives people the ability to improve their value by investing in it, selling it, or passing it on to their children.

That means it will not only change these people’s lives but also help with economic growth. Homeownership is a core ingredient of any thriving economy.

In October 2023, Free Market Foundation CEO David Ansara announced that 10,000 title deeds had been transferred to the rightful homeowners.

“Thank you to Johann Rupert and the many others who helped to make the Khaya Lam initiative a success,” Ansara said.

“10,000 title deeds successfully transferred to homeowners across South Africa since 2013.”

Johann Rupert’s incredible philanthropic and charity work

To appreciate the full extent of Johann Rupert and his family’s charity and philanthropic work, BusinessTech has compiled a list of projects.

Rupert Family Donations
Rupert Education Foundation
Institution Description
Aanhou-wen Work and Care Centre Education of mentally challenged adults
Abraham Kriel Child Care Donation towards educational cost of orphans
Affie 100 Funds Education project Afrikaans Schools
Alta du Toit Aftercare Education of mentally challenged adults
Alta du Toit School Donation towards educational costs for mentally challenged children
Andrew Murray Children’s Home Contribution towards educational cost of orphans
Boland Landbou School Building project to expand curriculum to introduce CAT and EGD.
Breytenbach Centre Educational project
Christel House SA 30 children fed, clothed, medaid + matric study remedial programme
Community Keepers Providing therapy offices at four schools
Cotlands Mobile toy library
Dreamtree School Equipment for sensory room and Kwikspace unit for children with autism
Durbanville Child  Care Donation towards educational cost of orphans
Film 4 Offenders Educate youth offenders at Pollsmoor
Fisantekraal Centre of Development Training unemployed and youth
Franschhoek Hospitality Academy Training disadvantaged youth
Helpende Hand Study Trust Donation to enable needy students to study through interest-free study loans
Helpmekaar Trust Bursary Fund
Herberg Child Care Donation towards educational cost of orphans
Hillcrest Aids Centre Education programme
Holanathi Feeding scheme at schools
Hope Through Action Foundation Learning and development centre for Fhoek community
Huis Horison Funding of occupational therapists’ salaries
Imibala Trust Art education
Ingcambu Dealing Info Centre Skills development and training centre in Gugulethu
Inmed SA Aquaponics (garden – and -fish -project, Graaff-Reinet)
Institute for the Blind Education programme
Institute for the Deaf Education programme
Jakes Gerwel Technical School Building costs
Kerith Retreat Education of mentally challenged adults
Learn to Earn, Hermanus+Kyalitsha Skills training of unemployed individuals
Lunchbox Fund Feeding Scheme
Merryvale School for Specialised Education Groundwater supply project
Merweville Primary School Education project
Nazareth House Orphans education
Noluthando School for Deaf Educational project & extra classrooms
Op die Plaas Pre-School, S-Wes Education programme
Peninsula School Feeding Food schools (AF Louw; Idasvallei)
Poinier School Donation towards school fees of needy visually impaired learners
SA Business Resources Institute Education project (2nd hand furniture) in Blackheath
SA Child Welfare Educational programme to girls in disadvantaged areas and providing of sanitary products
SA Children’s Home Donation towards educational cost of orphans
SA College for Tourism Hospitality Programme, Learnership Programme, Wellness Academy, Herding Academy Programme, etc
SHARE Opleidingsentrum, S-Wes Educate unemployed individuals
Sibongile, Khayelitsha Diapers for adults
Sihamba Sonke Walking Together Education programme, Eastern Cape
Sonop Christelike Tehuis, Pretoria Bursary fund for needy students
Stellenbosch Voedingsaksie Feeding scheme
Struisbaai SOS Funding Trust Building costs (Technical school)
Tereo Project Educational programme for street children in Helderberg
The Dignity Campaign Life skills programmes and training of facilitators and raising of teens’ challenges
The Spring Foundation Donation Lentegeur Hospital (vegetable garden project)
Tomorrow Trust Educational support to bridge the gap in learning created by Covid 19
Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust Educate learner patients in hospital
Vuyani, Graaff-Reinet Teachers salary support
WC Firefighters Association Educational project
WC Primary Science Programme Education project for teachers in Western Cape schools
Rupert Nature Foundation
Cape Town Waterfund Conservancy project of Cape Nature to fight alien plant invasion
Endangered Wildlife Trust Karoo Vulture studies
FitzPatrick Institute Birdlife Atlas
Graaff-Reinet Waterfund Underground water studies
Hanani Permaculture Garden project at schools
SA Birdlife Salaries support of Estuaries Conservation Programme Manager
SANCCOB Detection of avian influenza and development of contingency plan for disease outbreak among seabirds
Rupert Art Foundation
Butterfly Art Project Art education to underprivileged children
Masifunde Siphuhlisa Umfundi NPC Skills development to children and youths of Walmer township
SA Art Association Art Galleries; Security system upgrade, etc
SAFCEI (SA Faith Communities Environment Institute) Exchange programme between Tsonga/Venda and San artists in the Karoo
Social Impact Arts Prize Community art projects involving development of local artists
The Darling Trust Art education to underprivileged children
The Durban African Art Centre Association Provide artists & crafters with platform to showcase and exhibit art and products
The Imibala Trust Art education to underprivileged children
The Sustainability Institute Creative Arts Barn
University of Stellenbosch Masked Matters
Rupert Historic Homes Foundation
Breytenbach Cultural Centre Restoration project
Cradock Wrought Iron Restoration of horse drinking trough
Elim Moravian Church Congregation Restoration project
Erfenisstigting Restoration projects
Graaff-Reinet Museum Restoration project
Herbert Baker House, Kenilworth Turf Club Restoration project
Jakes Gerwel Foundation Restoration of Somerset East House
Langenhoven Memorial Fund Arbeidsgenot restoration
Mostert’s Mill Restoration project after fire damage
NG Kerk Malmesbury Restoration projects
NG Kerk Murraysburg Restoration projects
NG Kerk Stellenbosch Restoration projects
Nieuwe Molen Mill Restoration projects
Reinet Museum Complex Restoration projects
The Parish of St James Graaff-Reinet (Graaff-Reinet Anglican) Maintenance of church, hall and rectory
Van Riebeeck Society: Centenary Fund Van Riebeeck Society: Centenary Fund
VGK Simondium Restoration projects
Voortrekker Monument Restoration projects
Wupperthal Restoration projects
Rupert Music Foundation
Anglican Cathedral of St Andrew & St Michael Restoration of organ
Apollo Music Classical Music Festival
Athlone Academy of Music Workshop during school holidays
Baroque 2000 Classical concerts
Beau Soleil Music Centre Music Education
Breytenbach Kultuursentrum Classical concerts
Camerata Tinta Barocca Classical concerts
Cape Chamber Mus Collective Chamber Music Concerts
Cape Philharmonic Orchestra Orchestral expenses; Classical concerts; CT Opera Orchestral costs
Cape Town Opera Orchestral costs
Con Spirito Philharmonic Orchestral costs
Concerts Connect Classical concerts
CT Concert Series Concerts
Da Cape’O Strings Orchestra Youth Orchestra
Darling Voorkamerfest Classical Music Festival
d-Piano Lab Music Education
Duet Endowment Trust Classical concerts
Durban Music School Music Education
Enlighten Youth Orchestra Youth Orchestra
Ettienne Rousseau Theatre Classical concerts
Frank Pietersen Music Centre Music Education
Franschhoek Chamber  Music Festival Classical Music Festival
Franschhoek Mountain Chamber  Music Workshop Classical Music workshop
Free State Arts Festival Classical Music Festival
Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra Orchestral costs
Gauteng Chamber Music Festival Classical Music Festival
George Music Society Classical concerts
Grahamstad Music Society Konserte
Greyton -Classics for all Classical Music Festival
Handevat Music Project Music Education
Hugo Lambrechts Music Trust Music Education
IMAD (Eluxolweni Khayelitha School) Music Instruments
Imibala Trust Music Education
Int Clarinet Extravanganza Accompanists’ costs
Jamestown Sounds Music Education
Jhb Youth Orchestra Co Orchestral costs
JSM Academy Music Instruments
Kaapse Afr Eisteddfod Music Competition
Keiskamma Music Academy Classical music education and instruments
Klein Karoo Klassique Classical Music Festival
Koepel Arts Centre Classical Music workshop and concerts
Kronendal Music Academy Classical music education and instruments
KZN Philharmonic Orchestra Orchestral costs
KZN Youth Orchestra Orchestral costs
KZN Youth Wind Band Concerts and musical instruments
La Motte Wine Estate Classical concerts
Mary Geldenhuys Congregational Church Restoration of organ
Michael Blake (univ Stbosch) Classical Music Festival
Morris Isaacson Centre for music (MICM) Music Education in Soweto
Muzukidz Violin training for children
Mzansi Makers Classical concerts
National Youth Music Foundation Concerts and competition
Nelson Mandela University Classical Music workshop and concerts
NewMusic SA Classical concerts
NG Gemeente Burgersdorp Restoration of organ
Noord-Wes Univ Classical concerts
Odeion School for Music (Univ Free State) Classical concerts
Odeion String Quartet Classical Music workshop
OFS Symphony Orchestra Orchestral costs
Oude Libertas Amphi Theatre Classical concerts
PE Music Society Classical concerts
Philharmonic Choir of Cape Town Orchestral costs
Pioneer School for the Blind,  Worcester Braille Music library
Pretoria Bach Choir Orchestral costs
SA Akademie vir Wetenskap & Kuns Prizemoney in competition
SA Early Music Trust / Stb Barok Classical concerts
SA Nat Youth Orchestra Foundation Orchestral costs
SA Strings Foundation Classical concerts
Salon Music Classical concerts
Songwriters Guild Classical concerts
St Thomas Anglican Church Restoration of organ
Symphonic Choir of Cape Town Orchestral costs
Thabang ka Mmino Music (TKM) Music Education in Soweto
The Rainbow Exchange Southern Cape Music Education project
Univ Kaapstad Accompanists’ costs
University of  Pretoria Huberte Rupert Music Bursary
University of Stellenbosch Accompanists’ costs; classical concerts; workshops; Classical Festival; bursaries
University of Witwatersrand Concerts and Huberte Rupert Music bursary
Wakkerstroom Music Festival Classical music education and instruments
West Coast Youth Orchestra Classical music education and instruments
Wynberg Boys’ High School Restoration of organ
Johann & Gaynor Rupert Foundation Educational Projects and Programmes 
Graaff-Reinet Schools Project
Intervention Aim of intervention
Foundation phase mathematics  programme Enhancing teachers’ teaching, learners’ learning, and parents’ understanding in  mathematics for Gr R learners
Foundation phase teachers assistants in-classroom support Providing teacher assistants for teacher shortages and enhancing  knowledge and skills to support reading, numeracy  and literacy in  primary schools
Digital curriculum teaching and learning material Equipping schools with  online  resources and material in all curriculum subjects  in primary schools
Internet connectivity and technology programmes Technology training for  teachers wrt technology integration into teaching  and learning
Internet connectivity to all schools to enhance online teaching, learning, administration  and communication in schools
Reinet Foundation
Feeding scheme Provisioning of nutritional meals  to support pre-school and schoolgoing learners attending school
Somerset West Schools Project
Intervention Aim of intervention
Principals, school management teams and teacher development Enhancing school management and teacher skills to manage school performances
Learner Science, Maths and Lifeskills  development Enhancing primary school teachers wrt mentorship in  knowledge and skills in Science, Mathematics and Life skills
Digital curriculum teaching and learning material Provisioning and development of online  resources and material in all curriculum subjects  in primary schools
Technology support Enhancing teachers’ skills in technology use in classrooms and  high school learners’ skills and usage of technology
ICT Hubs
Hawston Schools Project
Intervention Aim of intervention
Gr R-school readiness programme Enhancing Gr R learners’ basic literacy and numeracy skills through educational play and training of parents
Afrikaans Literacy Enhancing learners’ home language performance in primary school
Maths Curriculum Online programme Enhancing learners’ numeracy performance in intermediate phase
Drama and performance Enhancing learners’ knowledge and skills in arts subjects through drama and performance
ICT/Technology training  project Enhancing teachers’ knowledge and skills in teaching through technology, and learner’s skills and usage of technology in the classroom
Music development programme Enhancing learners’ knowledge and skills in arts subjects through music development
Arts project Enhancing learners’ knowledge and skills in arts subjects through design and art classes
Career guidance, life skills Enhancing learners’ life skills and career guidance knowledge and skills
Prieska Schools Project
Intervention Aim of intervention
ICT/Technology project Enhancing teachers’ knowledge, skills, hard- and software material for teaching through  technology, and support on how to integrate technology in classroom teaching
Foundation phase Mathematics preparation programme Enhancing teachers and learners’ teaching and learning in mathematics for Gr R,  learners and parents training
Parental support programme Enhancing parental involvement in children’s academic life and character building
Career guidance programme Enhancing learners’ life skills and career guidance knowledge and skills
Franschhoek Schools Project (Rupert Education Foundation Funded Schools Project)
Intervention Aim of intervention
Feeding scheme Provisioning of nutritional meals  to support schoolgoing learners attending school
Robotics, Coding, Technology Enhancing teachers’ and learners’ knowledge and skills in robotics and coding
Technology support Enhancing teachers’ skills in technology use in classrooms and high school learners’ skills and usage of technology
Learner technology hubs
Maths Curriculum Online programme Enhancing learners’ numeracy performance in intermediate phase
Digital curriculum teaching and learning material Provisioning and development of online  resources and material in all curriculum subjects  in primary schools
Subject choices programme Equipping Grade 9 learners with career guidance knowledge on relevant subjects for post-school training and education
Psycho-social and wellness support programme Enhancing teachers, learners and parents’ sense of school safety and wellness
School management teams development programme Enhancing leadership, management and teaching performance in schools
Jacobsdal Schools Project (Rupert Education Foundation Funded Schools Project)
Intervention Aim of intervention
Learner school equipment and stationary Ensuring that learners have necessary basic stationery, e.g. Calculators etc., to perform subjects like Maths etc.
Learner school transport Equip school with trustworthy learner transport to and from schools
Skills and career guidance support Eradicating early dropout of rural learners by equipping them with basic literacy and entrepreneurial skills
Technology hardware and curriculum software programme Training and enabling teachers to teach through the use of technology
Tertiary Study Bursary Programme
Bursary programme To effectively contribute to youth development and employment opportunities post-matric, the bursary programme aligned to the schools’ projects provides a pipeline approach of support to matriculants from the schools’ projects who successfully apply, and are approved at, a public higher education and training institution. Primary focus for recruitment is on technical, vocational and artisan courses and programmes aligned to the national skills shortage development plan. 95 university and  technical colleges students (Current registered students from first-year till post-graduate students) Trustees approve new intakes each year 103 Alumni receiving post-graduate support from bursary office and facilitation of mentor and tutor programmes between current bursary holders and alumni
After School Centres Programme Support for Employees-Children on Farms
After-school support School homework support by tracking learners results and follow up with parents Support learners by finding volunteers for extra subjects tutoring support; Support learners with  extramural programmes (like  life skills, arts, sport, music, drama etc.) Facilitate career guidance and post-matric study options applications in collaboration with the tertiary bursary programme office—150 children from Early childhood development centres, primary, secondary schools and post-matric young people.
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