South Africa

South Africa’s incredible founder CEOs – ranked by shareholder returns

CEO founders

South Africa has incredible entrepreneurs who created world-renowned companies like Discovery, Cartrack, Aspen, and Sygnia.

These companies offer exceptional services, changed their industries, and created tremendous shareholder value in the process.

Daily Investor looked at South Africa’s top entrepreneurs through the lens of shareholder returns, calculated by adding capital gains and dividends.

Cartrack founder Zak Calisto tops the list with total shareholder returns of 392% at an annualised return of 29%.

Calisto has a long entrepreneurial history. He was a member of Vehicle Tracking Services and Cell Communications, a company specialising in the distribution of telecommunication services.

After developing new technology in 2001, Calisto operated the business as a joint venture with Netstar.

However, it did not work out as planned, and in 2004 Cartrack went on its own. Today, it is a global powerhouse in tracking, data analytics, and business intelligence.

Another outstanding entrepreneur, which ranks second in shareholder returns, is Aspen founder Stephen Saad.

He started his career at Quickmed, a prescription drug distribution company in black townships during apartheid.

In 1997, he joined forces with Gus Attridge to start Aspen Pharmacare. Since its humble beginnings, it has become Africa’s largest producer of generic medicines.

Over the last 20 years, Aspen produced 3,294% in shareholder returns at an annualised rate of 18%.

Discovery founder Adrian Gore, which ranks third, is South African business royalty thanks to the incredible performance of his company.

He launched Discovery in 1992 after raising seed money from Laurie Dippenaar and other funders who founded Rand Merchant Bank (RMB).

Gore’s exceptional business acumen and drive saw Discovery and the Vitality insurance model expand to 28 countries, serving over 20 million members worldwide.

In the process, he created 1,124% in shareholder returns at an annualised rate of 12%.

South Africa’s top entrepreneurs ranked by shareholder returns

The table below shows the total shareholder returns – share price growth and dividends – under the leadership of top founder CEOs.

The start date for the analysis is 1 January 2001, and we calculated the performance until 31 August 2022.

Shareholder Returns
CEO Company Annualized Shareholder Returns
Zak Calisto Cartrack/Karooooo 29%
Stephen Saad Aspen 18%
Adrian Gore Discovery 12%
Werner de Jager Cashbuild 11%
Stefan Joselowitz Mix Telematics 10%
Stefano Marani Renergen 10%
Ivan Leon Saltzman Dis-Chem 10%
Magda Wierziecka Sygnia 8%
Jens Montanana Datatec 2%
Mark Levy Blue Label Telecoms 0%
Brett Levy Blue Label Telecoms 0%
Mark Blair Mr Price -4%
Terence Mark Dennison Trellidor -6%
Johan van Zyl ARC Investments -7%
Johan van der Merwe ARC Investments -7%