How long you’d have to work to become the richest person in South Africa

 ·13 Aug 2023

Johann Rupert is currently the richest man in South Africa – and it would take the average South African over six thousand lifetimes to reach what he and his family have amassed over generations.

As it stands on Forbes’ real-time Billionaires list, Rupert’s net worth is sitting around $11.1 billion as of 7 August 2023, which equates to around R206 billion.

According to Stats SA’s latest quarterly employment survey (QES), the average formally-employed non-agricultural worker in South Africa earns R25,304 per month or R304,000 annually.

While annual earnings and net worth – the value of all the assets a person owns minus the liabilities they owe – aren’t necessarily a level playing field in terms of comparison, it does give you a good understanding of just how much money the richest South African in the world has amassed.

To match Rupert’s current worth from nothing, the average working South African would have to work 6,776 centuries to reach his $11.1 billion fortune – working out to 677,631 years.

To put this into perspective, a recent study conducted by analysts estimated that South Africans earning the average salary in the country would have to work for at least 68 years just to become a dollar millionaire ($1 million).

Put another way, the Great Pyramids of Eygpt are estimated to have been constructed around 4,500 years ago, according to National Geographic – meaning you would still have 673,131 years to go if you started saving the average South African salary from when the pyramids were built.

How Rupert made his wealth

When considering the massive R206 billion amassed by Rupert, it’s not a simple matter of saving. In Rupert’s case, the billionaire has significant investments in a multitude of local companies and has contributed greatly to building businesses and creating jobs in South Africa.

According to Forbes, most of the world’s billionaires accumulated their wealth through finance and investments. This avenue accounts for the highest number of billionaires (372), with most finding their wealth through hedge funds, private equity, venture capitalism, and fintech.

This is also the case for Johann Rupert. His main source of wealth includes his significant holdings in Richemont, the Switzerland-based luxury holding company, as well as stakes in Remgro, an investment vehicle based in South Africa, Reinet Investments, and FirstRand.

Billionaire Johann Rupert.

Forbes estimates that the majority of Rupert’s $11.1 billion wealth can be attributed to his impressive estimated 9.14% stake in Richemont. This stake represents approximately 76% of his fortune.

Additionally, Rupert also possesses nearly 25% ownership of Reinet Investments, which is estimated to have a market value of $1.05 billion (R19.73 billion).

Another notable contributor to Rupert’s fortune is his stake in investment holdings company Remgro – which holds stakes in over 30 companies. The market value of Rupert’s stake in the company has now reached $370 million (R6.9 billion).

Rupert also holds a considerable stake in FirstRand – the largest financial services group in Africa in terms of market capitalisation – and his share is estimated to be valued at $136 million (R2.33 billion).

Rupert’s philanthropic efforts

Johann Rupert and his family are also known for their philanthropic efforts.

According to Daily Investor, The Rupert companies have employed thousands of people, and Johann Rupert has been the highest individual taxpayer in South Africa for the past 20 years.

The Rupert family has a rich tradition of backing educational institutions, programs, and environmental initiatives in South Africa. Johann’s father, Anton Rupert, played a key role in setting up the local operations of the World Wide Fund for Nature and was actively involved in the National Parks Trust of South Africa.

The Rupert family has extended their support towards organizations such as the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the SA College for Tourism, and Ikamva Labantu. Additionally, the Rupert Education Foundation is dedicated to promoting various educational development programs that aim to empower and uplift the children and youth of South Africa.

Additionally, Johann Rupert and his wife Gaynor are passionate about providing land and homes to those who are underprivileged. As a result, they have sponsored 2,000 title deeds in Stellenbosch and Graaff-Reinet.

Another interesting fact noted by Forbes is that Rupert donates all the wages he earns being a chairman or a board member at various companies to multiple charities.

Read: What the CEOs of South Africa’s 10 biggest companies get paid

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