Koos Bekker is a businessman and south African self-made billionaire. Before assuming the role of chairmanship of Naspers Limited in 2015, he was the company’s CEO from 1997 to 2014.
Bekker is one of the co-founders of the M-Net/Multichoice pay-television business in 1986. He is among the founding directors of MTN, the mobile communication company in south Africa, created in 1994.
Koos Bekker is renowned for transforming Naspers into an e-commerce investor and cable TV powerhouse from a South African newspaper publisher. According to Forbes, he is one of the African billionaires.
Koos Bekker Background
Jacobus Petrus “Koos” Bekker was born on December 14, 1952, in Potchefstroom, South Africa. He attended Hoer Volkskool Heidelberg in South Africa. Bekker spends most of his early childhood as a farm boy in Heidelberg, Gauteng Province in South Africa.
Later, he enrolled in Stellenbosch University and graduated with degrees in Literature and Law in 1972 and 1975. Afterward, he enrolled at Wits University to pursue Law Studies. In 1978, he bagged an LLB from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. Bekker later pursued an MBA degree from the Columbia Business Administration in 1984.
Koos Bekker is married to Karen Roos, to whom they are blessed with two children.
Koos Early Career
Koos Bekker noticed the growing Cable TV market while pursuing his degree at the Columbia Business School. In 1986, he led the founding of M-Net, a pay television service, after returning home. M-Net became the first pay television well-known outside the United States.
Bekker has contributed to many successful companies that are still operational to date. Currently, M-Net is serving over 7 million people in 48 countries. In 1994, Bekker was part of the directors that established the cellular telephony group MTN. By 2015, it was the 8th largest mobile operator globally and currently still the largest in Africa. Brand Finance, a leading independent brand valuation consultancy, awarded MTN the most valuable telecom brand in Africa in their recent annual report.
In 1998, when internet business and technology were not significant in South Africa, Bekker invested in the internet business via Naspers. He created Fin24 and News24, which have remained to be premier news websites in SA. The market capitalization of Naspers grew by $43.8 billion during his tenure.
- The Life of The First Female Ugandan Aeronautical Engineer
- The Life of JJ Rawlings and His Political Contribution to Ghana
From 1997 through 2014, Bekker became the chief executive of Naspers before Bob Dijk took over. He took over from Vosloo as the chairman of Naspers in 2015.
Naspers operates in 130 countries. It is listed on the Johannesburg and the London Stock Exchanges. Naspers conducts business in Africa, Latin America, India, Europe, Russia, and China. It operates mainly on internet communication, e-commerce, entertainment, and gaming.
Courtesy of Naspers, Koos Bekker made several investments. In 2001, he led Naspers to invest in the Chinese internet and media firm, Tencent. As of 2018, Naspers was the largest shareholder with an approximate 31% stake in Tencent. The investment played a significant role in boosting Nasper’s stock price over time to become the most successful venture capital investments. Naspers invested $1 billion in India’s foodtech giant, Swiggy, in December 2018.
Naspers owns several brands that include; Media 24, Emag, City Press, Buscape, Movile, Fin24, Prosus, Multiply, OLX, Property24, among others.
Koos Awards and Recognition
- World Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame- World Entrepreneur Awards
- Lifetime Achievement Award- Business Times
- Honorary Doctorate in Commerce- University of Stellenbosch
- Best Entrepreneur- Ernst & Young/Rand Merchant Bank
- Appointed Member of Board- University of Stellenbosch, 2000 – present
- 1008 wealthiest person in the world – 2019 Forbes Rich List
- 4 Wealthiest South African with a fortune of US$2.3 billion, 2019 Forbes
- 11 Africa’s billionaire – 2020 Forbes
What Can We Learn from Koos Bekker’s Entrepreneurial Journey?
If there is a lesson one could gladly get away with from Bekker’s journey, it could be the retaliation that ‘every experience is a training.’ He narrated his childhood life as a farm boy and how that experience prepared him for business.
In farming, some elements must complement each other to get the desired goal (the harvest). There always exists a part of interference, you plant the seed and wait for the rain, and through good preparation, you get yield. This is what the business world also depicts. You do certain things only for the environment to throw specific issues at you. Your work is trying and solve them.
If you thought that those difficult moments are a waste of your time, you must rethink again. Take every stubble block as a training ground to prepare you for better opportunities to come.