Wendy Appelbaum Biography
Wendy Appelbaum (Wendy Donna Appelbaum) is a South African entreprenuer. She is the owner and chair of De Morgenzen Wine Estate.
Wendy Appelbaum is a trustee of The Tribune Trust, an investment holding trust, and a director of Victory Strategic Services (Pty) Limited. She chairs De Morgenzon Estate, a wine farm and agricultural business in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and is a director of Sphere Holdings (Pty) Limited, a black empowerment company focused in the financial services and mining sectors. She was previously the Deputy Chairman of Womens’ Investment Portfolio Limited (Wiphold Limited), the first women-controlled company to list on the Johannesurg Stock Exchange with then assets in excess of R 1billion.
She is a director of the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (Pty) Limited, a post-graduate teaching hospital of the University of the Witwatersrand. She is a trustee of the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa.
Wendy serves on the board of Synergos Southern Africa. She is also a member of the President of Harvard University’s Global Advisory Board, Harvard University’s Women’s Leadership Board, and the International Women’s Forum.
In 2006, Wendy was named one of the The Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World, an organization that honors and promotes female entrepreneurial excellence. She has served as Deputy Chairman of Connection Group Holdings, an information technology firm and South Africa’s leading computer and technology retailer. Wendy was also a director of Liberty Investors Limited, the previously listed holding company of the Liberty Group.
Wendy Appelbaum Father
She is the daughter of Liberty Group mogul Sir Donald Gordon.
Wendy Appelbaum Children – Wendy Appelbaum Family
She is the daughter of Donald Gordon and Peggy Gordon.
Wendy Appelbaum Net Worth
She has an estimated Net worth of R2.6 Billion.
Wendy Appelbaum Husband
Her husband is Hylton. Together, they bought De Morgenzon (“the Morning Sun”), a wine estate in midst of the Stellenbosch winelands. Their maiden vintage, a 2005 Chenin Blanc, became the first wine ever to get five stars in South Africa’s leading wine guide John Platter.
Wendy Appelbaum Philanthropy
In 1990 she co founded Wiphold the company’s management team tutors women in townships and rural areas in basic finance and business skills, and also helps them form groups to buy shares.
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She formed the Wendy Appelbaum Foundation, which supports programs addressing the education concerns of South African women.
In 2011 she established the Wendy Appelbaum Institute for Women’s Health to ensure that appropriate health care attention is given to women across her country.
Wendy Appelbaum Membership
- Member of Global Philanthropists’ Circle
- Member of International Women’s Forum
- Member of Women Moving Millions
- Trustee of The Donald Gordon Foundation
- Trustee of The Helen Suzman Foundation
- Trustee of The Children’s Haemophilia & Oncology Clinic (CHOC)
- Trustee of The World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa
- Trustee of Redhill School Trust
- Director at The Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, a post-graduate teaching hospital
- Director at Sphere Holdings, a black empowerment company focused on the financial services and mining sectors
- Director at The Synergos Institute Southern Africa
- Former director of Business Arts South Africa (BASA), a non-profit organization administering a government grant for Arts and Culture programs.
Wendy Appelbaum Contact Details
The Donald Gordon Foundation
PO Box 8749
F: +27 11 408 4038
E: [email protected]
Why Give: Wendy Appelbaum, Trustee, The Donald Gordon Foundation
Wendy Appelbaum News
The Richest Woman In South Africa Shares Her Career Journey
Published on; 12 MARCH 2018
This week on Profit Point, a segment that airs on ‘CNN Marketplace Africa’, South Africa’s richest woman Wendy Appelbaum discusses how she started her own wine business due to her experiences of being in boardrooms.
Despite being the daughter of Donald Gordon, founder of the Liberty Group, Appelbaum says that her privileged start in life isn’t the only reason for her success: “I really did understand how to run a business and how to make money. A lot of people say I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, which to a degree I was, but I’ve certainly not relied on that to get on with my own business and do what I wanted to do.”
Appelbaum explains to host Eleni Giokos that she learnt a lot from her father but her work ethic was something she had to develop independently: “He certainly taught me a lot about business, but being a girl and growing up in the 1970s [meant] there was not much expectation [for] me to do anything. It was my choice to do something. So, I have always worked and I have always been busy.”
In 1994, her and 10 other women started Wiphold, an investment company that empowered women from all walks of life. Appelbaum reflects fondly on her time there: “Wiphold was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life… We empowered women that were technically completely disadvantaged, really empowered them to understand how to invest and take a little bit of money and make it a lot. There was an incredible amount of energy in that boardroom. I’ve never been in a boardroom that good ever since.”
It was her work with Wiphold that acted as the catalyst for Appelbaum to start her own business; she explains: “Once I realised that all this experience I was getting across the board, from financials to marketing to HR, I decided I was going to do it for myself and that was when we started De Morgenzon.”
Although starting a wine business was not like anything she had done before, Appelbaum tells the programme how she had always dreamed of doing something she felt passionate about: “I always wanted to farm. I always wanted to live in nature… This gave me the opportunity to do something that I would love.”
When Appelbaum started De Morgenzon, she trusted her gut instincts and it paid off: “I was extremely lucky. I had no idea how good the farm’s ground was. I knew Stellenbosch was the premier wine producing region of the country, but I had no idea that there was this gold in the ground here.”
Appelbaum took advice to keep the old Chenin vines at the farm, which proved to be a profitable decision: “[Chenin] is one of the noble grapes of South Africa. We kept the old vines, clipped them within an inch of their lives and we treated them with respect and care. I got hold of a winemaker, whose expertise was Chenin Blanc, and I said to him: ‘Throw whatever you have at it. I want you to make the very best wine you’ve ever made.’ And he did that.”
It’s not just luck that has made De Morgenzon successful; Appelbaum reveals the wine business’ quirky trade secret to the programme: “We play music to the plants and the barrels. Everything is made and played to music… If you grew up to beautiful music like this, wouldn’t you taste beautiful, too?”
Appelbaum outlines the size of their business to date and her hopes for the future of a company still in its early days: “We make about 750,000 bottles a year and we export about 75% [of that], mostly to the UK and the US… I think we’ve got potential for another 25% growth. I can’t make wine I can’t sell. So, I think one must keep increasing once the reputation is established. Remember, we only bought this farm in 2003, so it’s only 15 years old.”