Isaac Shongwe

Founder/Chairman Letsema Holdings

Business Involvement

Isaac is a founder and Chairman of Letsema Holdings and is focused on building a values-based, long term, buy and hold investment company. He was, until the end of May 2014, an Executive Director of Barloworld Limited, a leading global industrial company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; he remains a non-executive Director of the Company. Prior to that, he was the CEO of Barloworld Logistics, a subsidiary of Barloworld with global operations. He joined Barloworld in 2005 through a transaction involving the purchase of a 25% stake in Barloworld Logistics Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Isaac began his career at Barlow Rand before joining Monitor Company, the management consulting company founded by Michael Porter. Subsequently, he founded Letsema Consulting in 1996 which is now a leading black owned and managed management consulting company in South Africa. Off that platform, Isaac created an investment company that has built several successful companies of long standing. Isaac has a demonstrated ability to innovate and grow businesses in challenging economic circumstances. It was through one of these investments that he joined Barloworld ultimately to become their first black executive director. Isaac has worked extensively in several countries in Africa and has a widespread network across the continent.

Social Involvement

Isaac sees business as a catalyst for Social Change. He is engaged in many social activities principally focused on the development of values-based leaders throughout Africa. He is the co-founder of the African Leadership Initiative, which is part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, focusing on the development of effective, values-based leaders in Africa. To date, ALI has produced three hundred and thirty-nine Fellows from South, East, West Africa and Mozambique. In 2014, he founded the Young African Leadership Initiative concentrating on developing the younger generation of African leaders, aged twenty-five to thirty-five. His own passion for leadership began early in his career when he was made a 21st Century Trust Fellow and was named as a World Economic Forum Global Leader of Tomorrow, in 1996.

From 2000 to 2014 he served on the board of the Aspen Institute, where he is a Henry Crown Fellow. He serves as Chairman of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation for South Africa. He is the Chairman of the University of the Witwatersrand Business School Advisory Board and he also serves as Deputy Chair of Council, of the University of the Witwatersrand.

From 1994 until 2008, he served on the Selection Committee of Rhodes Scholars in South Africa and has been an active participant with the Mandela Rhodes Scholars.

Isaac was educated at Wesleyan University a liberal arts college in Connecticut USA and Oxford University in the UK where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar and obtained a M.Phil. in Management Studies from Christ Church.

Isaac is married to Khumo and they have six children.