Gloria Serobe 2021


Gloria Tomatoe Serobe was born in Guguletu, Cape Town on 20 September 1959. She obtained a BCom degree from the former University of Transkei and holds an MBA degree from Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA.

A well-respected businesswoman and a pioneer in the field of broad-based economic empowerment for women, she builds from the ground up, working extensively and inclusively with women from all walks of life, to create platforms for women’s economic participation.

She is best known for her role as one of four co-founders of Women Investment Portfolio Holdings (Wiphold) - the first women’s group established post-1994 to list on the JSE - and for her current role as CEO of Wipcapital, a subsidiary of Wiphold focusing on operational financial services. Wiphold has 1 200 direct beneficiaries and 18 000 indirect beneficiaries through the Wiphold Investment Trust. A further 200 000 women benefit through the Wiphold Non-Governmental Organisation Trust, making a substantial economic impact in South Africa.

Her socially entrepreneurial business acumen has been widely recognised in the banking, insurance and mineral & mining sectors, as well as in the tourism field. This has seen her serving with distinction in a long career in business, having held senior positions in companies such as Exxon Corporation (USA), Reinsurance Company of SA, the Premier Group and Transnet; and serving as a member of the Tourism Board.

Ms Serobe has made a unique and outstanding contribution to transformative social engagement by designing mass-based participative economic models. Recognising that the economic asset base of rural people is often communal and not recognised in traditional banking and insurance mechanisms, Ms Serobe sought to redefine economic value, for example to be inclusive of village-based live-stock, which could in turn be regarded as collateral and as insurable against loss.

Apart from her leadership role within WIPHOLD and Wipcapital, she serves on several boards of directors including Chairperson for Adcorp Holdings Limited (Employment Services), former Chairperson of the Board of the Independent Ports Regulator, as well as board membership of Old Mutual, Nedbank, Denel and Safin among others.

Ms Serobe is an honorary member of the Actuarial Society of South Africa and serves on the advisory council of the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants (SAICA). Globally, in 2005 she was instrumental in brokering a R7.2 billion empowerment deal for a 12.75% stake in the London-listed Old Mutual Group, of which Wiphold and other BEE consortiums were beneficiaries.

Her contributions as a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Committee and a member of the Presidential Working Group for Women have cemented her socially inclusive approach to economic growth and has resulted in her being a sought-after public intellectual, giving presentations and interviews across a range of platforms.

Acknowledging her astute resource stewardship, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Ms Serobe to head the Solidarity Fund in March 2020 to drive economic recovery, revival and revitalisation following the harrowing recessionary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her work has been rewarded with a number of accolades, including the Impumelelo Top 300 Award in 2003 for her contribution to transformation, job creation, the economy and as a BEE role model. In 2004 she received the ABSIP Pioneer of Empowerment Award and was winner of the Business category of the 2005 Top Women in Business and Government and was the 2006 winner of Businesswoman of the Year Award in the corporate category.

In 2006 she won the African Woman Chartered Accountants Woman of Substance Award and was a finalist, together with Wiphold CEO Louisa Mojela, in the SA chapter of the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Award.

As a resolute advocate of social equity, fairness, justice, and equality as well as for her fight against poverty, creating jobs, reducing unemployment and building a stronger economy, it is an honour for Nelson Mandela University to confer the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) on Gloria Tomatoe Serobe.