She elegantly exudes beauty, glamour and high fashion, but as a member of the Global Philanthropists Circle-a network of leading international philanthropists dedicated to eliminating poverty and increasing equality worldwide--Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe is a woman warmly committed to improving the lives of disadvantaged communities in her native South Africa.
This was best exemplified in June 2007 when she and her husband, the renowned businessman Patrice Motsepe, took philanthropy to a new level through their Motsepe Family Foundation, donating $107,000 in support of UNICEF South Africa's child survival programme, becoming the first black couple in the country's history to give such an unprecedented amount to charity.
The Foundation, which Dr Moloi-Motsepe heads, aims at promoting the social development of young people and women, and runs various projects and ventures, ranging from health and education to the nurturing of young talent in the fields of music, sport and fashion, throughout South Africa.
This erudite businesswoman and humanitarian is a medical doctor who specialised in gynaecology, a career that has brought her heart close to issues that affect women's health.
Although her involvement in medicine is now only limited to educating and advising women on health issues and working with NGOs, she believes the medical field helped her to be the person she is today. "Passion, hard work, honesty and respect for others is something I carry with me wherever I go ... and women's health is still one of my big passions," she says.
Today, Dr Moloi-Motsepe is becoming a formidable force in the Western-dominated world of fashion to which she was drawn when her family bought a controlling stake in African Fashion International (AFI), the company which is passionate about the promotion of African fashion brands and African fashion initiatives. AFI hosts and owns South Africa's Fashion Weeks, that is: the Virgin Mobile Cape Town Fashion Week, MTN Durban Fashion Week (50% ownership), Audi Johannesburg Fashion Week (autumn/winter) and the Johannesburg Fashion Week (spring/summer).
"I am inspired by the talent of South African artists and designers. I believe that it is only a matter of time before we have a few South African designers exporting to big fashion houses overseas. Their unique designs set them apart and make them stand out. The world of fashion is always looking for new talent," she says. (See New African Woman October 2008 to see some of this talent's work.)
When she was recently asked in a magazine interview if it is hard being a black woman working in the fashion industry, Dr Moloi-Motsepe does not mince her words: "It is probably hard being a black woman in any industry. But I think if you believe in what you are doing and people see that you are committed to what you are doing, and you are honest about your shortcomings and strengths, you will make it. When I started the [medical] clinic in Morningside people said, 'You'll never have white patients here. These madams can pay to see any gynaecologist!' And I promise you, my practice was full of white patients because they knew they would get the service they were looking for. It was good quality. Excellence is very important. When you are committed, people will support you." She was speaking in South Africa's True Love magazine.
As chairperson of African Fashion International, Dr Moloi-Motsepe has taken a keen and passionate interest in the advancement of African designers both in South Africa and beyond. At the 2007 World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Cape Town, the issue of African fashion was put on its agenda for the first time and Dr Moloi-Motsepe's AFI played a key role in hosting discussions about the future of fashion in Africa and how to make it globally competitive.
Indeed, not only is AFI on the forefront of promoting the fashion and creative industries in Africa. …