On her political ambitions, spreading risk, and the true value of property.
At a glance: Basetsana Kumalo sits on numerous boards and has built up business interests in mining and property. She is the chairperson of Tswelopele Productions, which produces Top Billing and Pasella, and has launched her own clothing range, eyewear and cosmetic line. Basetsana has been listed as one of South Africa’s top personal brands in the Sunday Times Top Brands Survey.
How would you describe yourself? I would say I’m a serial entrepreneur with a portfolio career. My business interests range from media all the way through to mining.
On the personal front, being a mother is my highest calling. I am also the wife to a wonderful, supportive husband. Most importantly, I owe my spiritual being to a deep faith in and relationship with God.
What essential money lesson did you learn, and from whom? My parents believed in hard work and entrepreneurship, and so my siblings and I had our first lessons about money when we were very young.
On the weekends, we would make and sell sandwiches at local soccer matches to help keep the family afloat, and while other kids were out playing, I would sell eggs to make extra money. It was in doing each of these things when I was young that I realised the correlation between what we put into things and the benefits we reap.
What passion does money allow you to indulge? I enjoy travelling. It allows me to broaden my horizons and to have experiences. Life is about experiences and, in fact, travel does not need to be expensive at all. There are so many lovely places to explore within our borders.
Does private wealth equate with being happy – in what way? Money cannot buy happiness — it is just a means to an end. A wealthy person is one who has emotional and psychological balance, and lives their truth. That is far more valuable than anything else.
What’s your fundamental wealth-growth strategy? I’m an investor through and through, so my portfolio is shared between stocks, property and resources.
What wealth-management advice would you give your 20-year-old self and 60-year-old self, respectively? With every penny/rand you have, buy property. That’s what my mother taught us. I still stand by this because immovable property is also an investment in family and self.
What did you do with your first pay cheque? I took my late parents out for a meal.
With whom would you most like to have a one on one, and what would you ask? Michael Bloomberg: I would like to discuss the transition from business to politics.
Why would you hire yourself (or not)? Of course I would hire myself! I’m a strategist, visionary, hard working and very passionate about what I do.
What are your views regarding philanthropy? It’s what makes this world a better place and a way that each one of us can help make a difference. It is not about a person’s net worth, but about the willingness to give back, whether it’s time, talent or mentorship.
What gives you hope? The youth of our country.
What makes you happy? My husband and children.
Who or what inspires you? The teaching and legacy of my late parents. My father was a bus driver and my mother a teacher. They inspired me to do better, work harder and give back. Their spirit lives on.
What is your greatest failing? I tend to procrastinate at times. I think it was the actor Chris Parker who said, ‘procrastination is like a credit card — it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.’
Which of your qualities do you most appreciate? I’d like to believe I’m a good listener, and have patience.
Which of your qualities do you like least? I don’t suffer fools … and I’m very upfront about that kind of thing.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To have a faster metabolism, so I wouldn’t need to work so hard at gym.
If you were a superhero, who would you choose to be and what power would you most like to have? A genie in a bottle who could make dreams come true.
What have you learned from failure? It’s not final — tomorrow gives you another day to try again.
Which talent would you most like to have? I think I’m a frustrated muso — I sing in the shower.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being a mother to three beings, who are just delightful and look to me daily for guidance, love, care and nurturing. Trying to do just that is my greatest achievement.
What is your greatest ambition? I am blessed to wake up every day and live my dream.
What do you most value in a person? Integrity.
What possession do you treasure most? I recently gave away a lot of clothes. We come with nothing and will leave with nothing.
Have you achieved everything you want to achieve? Not by a long shot.
What do you still want to do with your life? Go into public office, and serve in education specifically.
What do you fear most? I’m not consumed by fear.
What is your single biggest regret? I honestly don’t live a life of regret. I choose to learn from my mistakes and take that as having paid my dues.
What book changed your life? The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma, a self-help book about building character and discipline.
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