Citation for Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe

10 December 2021 | Photo Je’nine May. Read time >10 min.
Mila Zibi, who will read the citation, is the President of UCT’s Student Representative Council (SRC).
Mila Zibi, who will read the citation, is the President of UCT’s Student Representative Council (SRC).

Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe is a philanthropist and an entrepreneur, and is recognised as one of the 50 most powerful women on the continent by Forbes Africa. Her philanthropic and business interests are intertwined, focusing on education, women, youth empowerment and the creative arts industries.

Dr Moloi-Motsepe began her career as a medical doctor (MBBCh, DCH from the University of the Witwatersrand), specialising in children’s health. She expanded her studies in medicine at the University of Virginia, United States where she worked in women’s health. Learning from the experience, she embarked on her post-graduate studies at Stellenbosch University where she focused on what was then a ground-breaking area, the mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

During her tenure as president of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) between 2002 and 2007, Dr Moloi-Motsepe promoted awareness for cervical, breast and prostate cancer, which are prevalent amongst African communities.

Through facilitated partnerships with the Department of Health and local community doctors, she brought cancer to the forefront of health interventions and led a national campaign for cancer screening in under-served communities. She received the Elizabeth Tshabalala Award from the Centre for Breast Health for her promotion of women’s health and cancer awareness in 2012.

In 2013, Dr Moloi-Motsepe and her husband, Dr Patrice Motsepe, joined the Giving Pledge – the first couple from the continent to join the initiative established by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. Together they committed to give half of their wealth to the poor and for philanthropic purposes during their lifetimes and beyond.


As Co-Founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation, Dr Moloi-Motsepe has grown the foundation into one of the largest philanthropic organisations on the continent. Established in 1999, its goal is to contribute towards eradicating poverty and to sustainably improve the living conditions and standards of living of poor, unemployed and marginalised people in South Africa, Africa and the world.

On behalf of the Motsepe Foundation, Dr Moloi-Motsepe committed R 1.5 billion at the Global Citizen Mandela 100 Concert in 2018 to advance the provision of quality education and reduce inequalities amongst the youth. To date, the Motsepe Foundation has awarded university bursaries to over 2 500 students studying at 27 South African academic institutions. At a basic education level, the Motsepe Foundation invests in schools infrastructure, including classrooms, computer labs, libraries and ablution facilities at under-resourced schools across the country.

For her work on women empowerment, Dr Moloi-Motsepe published The Precious Little Black Book in 2012, a resource guide for women and girls which provides pertinent introductory information on health, education, law and economics. That same year she also launched the Gender Equality, Wellness and Leadership (GEWAL) Unit within the Motsepe Foundation, through which she spearheaded the Gender Responsive Budgeting Initiative, contributing to cabinet adopting a gender responsive budgeting framework in 2019. The Shining Light Awards, another component of the unit’s work, has promoted women and girls who are breaking down barriers in their industry and has propelled them further into international industries for greater excellence. In 2014, Dr Moloi-Motsepe launched the Girls in STEM programme to build a critical mass of women in research and innovation.

Her youth empowerment initiatives are not only limited to girls as she believes in addressing social ills that hinder young people in general. It is for that reason that she also drives awareness campaigns on mental health targeted at the youth, with the Motsepe Foundation also partnering with the Department of Basic Education to run the Kay Motsepe Schools Football Cup - the largest schools football tournament on the continent. Together with the annual Kay Motsepe Schools Netball Cup and Eisteddfod, which have a combined total of 14 000 schools participating each year, Dr Moloi-Motsepe aims to encourage youth along their educational journey through healthy, competitive and fulfilling extra-curriculars in sport and music.

The Motsepe Foundation also builds networks across South African communities, working with traditional leaders and religious leaders to enable sustainable community development and inclusive co-operation. Following a commitment by the Motsepe Foundation of R 3.8 billion towards land reform, Dr Moloi-Motsepe is working in partnership with kings, queens, traditional leaders and commercial agricultural farmers and other stakeholders to contribute to the creation of sustainable and long-term agriculture and land reform partnerships in traditional communities and poor rural and urban communities across all nine provinces.

On the continent, Dr Moloi-Motsepe has assisted with emergency response relating to Ebola, cyclone Idai and COVID-19. The Motsepe Family, in partnership with companies and organisations that it is associated with, pledged R1 billion to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic and its related challenges that are confronting South Africa and the African Continent. These funds were used for, among others, the procurement of personal protective equipment and sanitisers for health-care workers in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout South Africa and the rest of the African continent. With this, Dr Moloi-Motsepe also ensured that the Motsepe Foundation had a gender-balanced procurement process to support women-owned businesses.

Building off the success of the Kay Motsepe Schools Cup in South Africa, the Motsepe Foundation has also initiated development support for schools football in the six Confederation of African Football (CAF) zones. This sponsorship will include the elevation of women’s football on the continent. 

Internationally, Dr Moloi-Motsepe is a member of the Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Council, where she works with global leaders to promote leadership through scholarships and research that informs policy. Her participation in the council has furthered the support for leaders based in Africa, while also bringing a more informed continental perspective to the agenda.

Dr Moloi-Motsepe has also partnered with Hilde Schwab, the chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship at the World Economic Forum (WEF), to direct greater support for social entrepreneurs operating on the continent. Through the programme and an additional partnership with the Harvard Business School for Executive Education, Dr Moloi-Motsepe has elevated Africa’s social entrepreneurs to global platforms where their impact is being scaled for sustainable development.

Following this, she took over the reins from Melinda Gates as co-chair of the global women’s philanthropic organisation Maverick Collective in 2018. Through Maverick Collective, Dr Moloi-Motsepe assisted in mobilizing R 900 million in resources for 800 000 girls and women to live healthier lives.

In 2021, the Milken-Motsepe prize was launched as a multimillion-Rand competition for entrepreneurs who are using Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to accelerate progress towards the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a spotlight on Africa. In its first year, it has attracted entrepreneurs and innovators from 68 countries in the world to solve Africa’s challenges relating to small-scale farming productivity, as well as food security. Through her leadership, the work of the Foundation has grown to become aligned to 12 of the 17 SDGs.


In 1993, Dr Moloi-Motsepe established one of the first women’s health clinics in Johannesburg, South Africa to focus on the unique and holistic healthcare needs of women, beyond reproductive health.

Dr Moloi-Motsepe has blended her passion for Africa with her entrepreneurial spirit to utilise the fashion and clothing industry as a pathway to women’s socioeconomic upliftment and African unity.

In 2007, Dr Moloi-Motsepe conceptualised African Fashion International (AFI) as a socially conscious platform to promote and propel pan-African designers to global platforms. Through AFI she has launched numerous designers into New York, Paris and London Fashion Weeks, who have since become household names.

If the fashion industry was a country, it would be the 5th largest country in the world with a value of R 45 trillion. Employing a majority of women along the supply chain, the clothing industry is recognised by the National Development Plan (NDP) as a driver of job creation.

Through her leadership, AFI has evolved using technology to become an industry aggregator for pan-African designers, customers and suppliers along the value chain. Since the introduction of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, the fashion industry is growing in appeal for more than its soft power and its ability to promote cultural exchange. By advocating for investment in continental fashion manufacturing, Dr Moloi-Motsepe is on a mission to boost economic growth, trade and job creation for the youth and women, with a focus on sustainable production, consumption and small-businesses.

Through incubator programmes for emerging designers, AFI invests in the business of fashion and “Made in Africa” campaigns. Dr Moloi-Motsepe has also broadened AFI’s scope to include pan-African creatives, facilitating cross-cultural and cross-industry partnerships with music, fine art and cuisine.

In 2017, Dr Moloi-Motsepe was the recipient of the inaugural Fashion 4 Development Franca Sozzani Award for her efforts in promoting African designers and empowering disadvantaged women.

She currently represents Africa at the Copenhagen Global Fashion Agenda as an advisor, highlighting continental perspectives among global efforts to improve sustainability.

Dr Moloi-Motsepe’s professional associations include:

  • Member of the Global University Leaders Forum at the World Economic Forum
  • Member of the Global Agenda Council at the World Economic Forum
  • Member of the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Leadership Board
  • Board Member at the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at Milken Institute.

Her other past and present philanthropic leadership responsibilities include:

  • Champion for Africa by UNAIDS, tasked with mobilising private-sector support on the continent to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in 2011
  • Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on population in 2014
  • Co-Founder and Steering Committee Member of the South African Universities Chancellors Forum (SAUCF), an initiative harnessing universities contributions to the greater good of society in 2020.

Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe was elected as chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) by an electoral college consisting of holders of UCT qualifications, academic and PASS (professional, administrative support and service) staff, and students on Friday, 30 August 2019.

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