What if South Africa’s richest men gave all their money away?

Bloomberg has created the Robin Hood Index, which looks at the richest men and women in 42 countries – and asks the question: how much could they improve the lives of the poor if they gave all their money away?

The index aims to draw comparisons between the super-rich and the sheer number of poor people found in their countries, which in turn serves as a basis of comparison between the billionaires themselves, and how they fit into their respective society.

“The index shows how the net worth of each country’s wealthiest person compares to the livelihood of his fellow countrymen by calculating the lump sum in dollars each person living in poverty would get if the assets of the richest citizen were liquidated and redistributed,” Bloomberg said.

Robin hood index
Robin hood index (click to enlarge)

The numbers are impacted by a number of factors, including population sizes, and varying poverty lines – and don’t take into account purchasing power parity.

As an example, India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has a net worth of $22 billion – yet with over 370 million people living in poverty in the country, this only translates to $59 per person.

In contrast, small population countries, like Cyprus and Sweden, where there are fewer poor citizens, the wealth distribution is more significant – $46,000 and $33,000 per person, respectively.

Even when looking at the net worth of the world’s richest man, Bill Gates – his wealth seems diminished, when his entire fortune would ‘only’ turn into a one-off payment of $1,736 if distributed to the neediest 15% of Americans.

The Index uses the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and the CIA World Factbook as reference points.

South Africa’s richest

According to Bloomberg’s data, there are approximately 19.2 million impoverished people in South Africa.

BusinessTech has taken the index a step further, and calculated what impact could be made if all of South Africa’s richest people had to give their wealth away – individually and collectively (using Forbes’ latest billionaire data).

# Billionaire Net worth ZAR Per person
1 Christo Wiese R92.96 billion R4 841.67
2 Nicky Oppenheimer R88.86 billion R4 628.13
3 Johann Rupert R87.49 billion R4 556.77
4 Koos Bekker R28.71 billion R1 495.31
5 Allan Grey R17.77 billion R925.52
6 Stephen Saad R17.77 billion R925.52
7 Patrice Motsepe R17.77 billion R925.52
Combined R351.33 billion R18 298.44

Currency exchange at 1 USD = 13.66 ZAR

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What if South Africa’s richest men gave all their money away?