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“The key components for women in business are focus and tenacity.”

Daphne Mashile-Nkosi does not understand the concept of giving up. As irrefutable proof, she owns a mine that took 10 years to build in an unforgiving Northern Cape landscape that is practically a desert. A mine, as it happens, that is said to become the largest producer of manganese, probably not only in South Africa, but in the world. As if it needed any further accolades, the mine – Kalagadi Manganese – also proudly ranks as one of the most eco-friendly manganese producers in the world.

The fact that Mashile-Nkosi accomplished this awe-inspiring feat whilst operating in South Africa’s white male dominated mining industry, is testament to not only her tenacity, but her considerable abilities to hyper focus on the outcome that she is pursuing.  

In 2014 she won the coveted title of CEO of the Year at the African CEO Forum, competing against the likes of Nigerian business magnate Aliko Dangote. In addition to being the founder of Kalahari Resources, the holding company for the Kalagadi Manganese Mine, she is Chairperson of Women’s Development Bank Investment Holdings and occupies numerous other board positions.

However, her list of accomplishments are all the more inspiring and impressive, when one discovers how and where she grew up; in a household that supported 30 children with meagre resources, in a rural environment where she had to brave crocodiles to get to a school that was 8 miles away, and in a culture where women have no status, other than that of virtual labourers for their absent husbands.

In this Quick Insight, extracted from a no-holds-barred, full length interview, the powerhouse that is Mashile-Nkosi shares valuable lessons for women in business as she discusses her early life and the beginnings of her long journey to being a mining magnate.

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