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The Capitalist: Meet South Africa's Phuti Mahanyele, Head of Sigma Capital

Updated: Mar 24, 2019

Phuti Mahanyele is the Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital an investment holding


Phuti Mahanyele. Credit:

Born March 15, 1971, in Dobsonville, Soweto South Africa, Phuti Mahanyele has had the distinction of being listed in the Wall Street Journal's list of “Top 50 Women In The World To Watch in 2008”. In addition to being a South African business executive, Mahanyele also serves as the chief executive officer of Sigma Capital and is the former CEO of the Shanduka Group.

Although her father died in 2012, as well as her mother passing when Mahanyele was only seventeen, in a 2013 interview, she spoke of how her parents committed themselves to provide her and her sister with the best education possible.

With the death of her mother at only forty-two years of age, Mahanyele stated that she saw it as a lesson to simply not take time for granted, and added that when she sees others wasting time, that she just can't seem to understand it.

At the tender age of seventeen, Mahanyele left South Africa to attend college in the States. It was at Douglass College, in New Brunswick, NJ, that she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 1993, followed up by her MBA in 1996, studying the impact on international trade on black economic power, at De Montfort University, in the United Kingdom.

Mahanyele has had a very active, one would say whirlwind, career. Upon graduation, she joined the Fieldstone Private Capital Group in New York City. She worked her way up to the position of vice president of the New York branch, before transferring back home with the company’s branch in South Africa.

When asked about how many would think that transferring back to South Africa, after having achieved what she had in the States, wouldn’t idea of a good move she simply replied: “where else in the world would it make sense for a black woman to be?”

After a few years back home, Mahanyele joined Shanduka Group in 2004, securing such major accounts as Coca-Cola and McDonalds, as the managing director and eventually worked her way up to the companies position of chief executive officer.

In 2016, feeling she needed a change, Mahanyele resigned from the Shanduka Group and pursued her own dreams of a company and developed her Sigman Group.

In 2012 Mahanyele spoke at a women's leadership conference, where she emphasized that women should play a much larger role in business because they have specific skills that if they are permitted to use can help solve many of the current day world challenges.

Also in 2014, at the US-Africa’s Leader Summit held in Washington D.C., Mahanyele had the honor of being the only African woman on the panel “Expanding Opportunites: The New Era For Business In Africa,” that was hosted by former US president Bill Clinton.

Experiencing multiple health symptoms led her in 2013 to seek out medical advice. It was then that she learned that she had had a stroke, and again she found herself reminded of the importance of not taking time for granted, as she was with her mother’s passing.

Earlier in her career, she had a moment when she thought she would leave it all behind, and simply become a housewife. She had friends who were doing just that, and they seemed happy.

However, she realized she wasn’t ready to give up on her dream of having her own business, so at that time it never came to pass. However, in December 2015 she told that she felt she was ready to be a wife again.

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