Businesswoman extraordinaire and CEO of billion-dollar South African investment holding company the Shanduka group, Phuti Mahanyele has placed as priority for the acceleration of business partnerships and investments in Africa, the education and empowerment of the continent’s teeming youths.

She was responding to the question of former US president Bill Clinton who was the moderator of a panel on expanding opportunities in Africa at the just concluded US-Africa Business Forum sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce In Washington DC.

Clinton had asked the 2009 Financial Services’ “Most Influential Woman in Government and Business” on what could be done to boost business and create jobs in Africa; Phuti pointed to the stats, “Fifteen to 25-year-olds in Africa make up 60 percent of the population of the continent (Africa) today”.

The key issue, she added, was making sure that this outstanding segment of the Africa society gets the education they need to be able to contribute towards the continued growth of Africa’s economy. To achieve this, the 43 year old black female CEO averred, African companies have to seek and go into international business partnerships that would have a direct and positive impact on their youths, exampled by her company- Shanduka’s partnership with McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

“With McDonald’s today we employ 11,300 people in South Africa. And what we’ve done is to focus on educating and employing young people coming into our business. And so, what we do is we have a significant focus on that” .

An active World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and mentor to young Africans, Ms Mahanyele makes the case for Africa’s business perspective to be focused on education and empowerment of young people thus ensuring that the continent, going forward, has the resources to keep economic growth and development moving forward. It is from this perspective, she enthuses, “that we (Africans) will then have the capability to be able to continue to grow our economies in a manner that we need to do”.

One of the most respected figures in the corporate world, Phuti Mahanyele joined Shanduka group in 2004 as the Managing Director of Shanduka Energy prior to which she was the head of the Project Finance South Africa business unit at the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

Reportedly headhunted by business mogul Cyril Ramaphosa, Phuti was, after serving as the group’s MD for a number of years, appointed Shanduka’s CEO. She is also a member of the boards of a number of Shanduka Group investee companies. The company owns the controlling stake in McDonalds SA and is also in partnership with Coca-Cola.

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