Dear Shareholder


Looking back on the past year I am extremely proud of African Equity Empowerment Investments Ltd’s (AEEI) accomplishments amid difficult times. As governments worldwide deal with the containment of the highly infectious, deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are witnessing global economic turmoil on a scale unlike anything we have ever experienced in history. The effects of COVID-19, the unstable political arena, the effects of global warming, as well as regular power outages on our already ailing South African economy, has all concerned.

Nevertheless, I am delighted to advise that AEEI remains cash generative and is financially sound, despite having to face a swathe of unprecedented challenges. We attribute this performance to the Group’s sustained focus on executing its strategy diligently while striving to make a meaningful difference in the communities in which we operate.

I am proud of the resilience, focus and diligence of our wonderful team of employees, who continue to safeguard the Group during these trying times. The Board and I congratulate the various teams on their rapid activation and implementation of a comprehensive response plan aimed at stabilising the various business units in the short term, while preparing for a strategic reset to ensure a sustainable Group during this unprecedented period.


AEEI’s resilience during uncertain times is testimony to its values and work ethic that has stood the test of time over the last 21 years since listing on the JSE in 1999.

The Group has come a long way since its listing on the JSE as Sekunjalo Investments Limited, along with a name change to AEEI during May 2015. AEEI’s asset base has increased significantly since its humble beginnings, with an initial investment of R250 000 to an asset base of more than R7.2bn. This remarkable growth would not have been possible without a vision, unwavering years of commitment, dedication, hard work and a team of great employees who never gave up on our vision to be one of the largest empowerment groups in the country.

With a key focus on transformation and the empowerment of previously-disadvantaged black South Africans, supporting the transformation agenda of the country and wealth creation for our shareholders and our employees, the Group has not wavered from its philosophy of growing the business through its value-creation and transformation process – for the people, by the people.

The face of AEEI has progressively transformed over the years, putting the Group in the hands of strong, highly qualified black women who fearlessly and unselfishly contribute to AEEI’s sustainability and value-creation for our shareholders. Refer to Our value- creating business model.

I wish to congratulate and celebrate the Group’s “Coming of Age” and hope that the “new normal” will permit us to celebrate this exceptional milestone soon!


A sound and experienced board of directors is critical for any business, more so during extremely challenging times. The Group announced a series of changes and additions to its Board of directors this year. The new appointments do not only reinforce the Group’s corporate governance credentials, but it also signals a fresh, new era of focused growth for the organisation as it looks to unlock its considerable balance sheet with a series of targeted investments, while safeguarding its existing businesses.


Mr Khalid Abdulla, after being at the helm of AEEI as chief executive officer for 11 years, has accepted the opportunity to steer the Group’s technology company, AYO Technology Solutions Limited (AYO), to greater heights. As AYO’s deputy executive chairman, Khalid now spearheads the technology division’s growth through a focused acquisition strategy to bolster the Group’s investments and increase stakeholder value. Under Khalid’s leadership, the Group successfully achieved the goals of AEEI’s Vision 2020 Vision strategy and was also responsible for the many awards which AEEI received. Join me in wishing Khalid well in his new role.

As Khalid steps down from his role as CEO of AEEI, the Board and I welcomed Mrs Valentine Dzvova as acting chief executive officer on 12 March 2020 after which she was appointed as CEO on 1 July 2020. Valentine’s appointment is one key example of AEEI’s application of gender equality and diversity in the workplace, an integral part of the transformation drive of the Group.

Valentine is already putting her mark on the Group as its first black female CEO. She has been tasked with steering AEEI from its operational management roots to that of a fully-fledged investment holding company. However, due to the current operating environment and the presence of the pandemic, this strategy has been placed on hold for the short-term. We are, however, feverishly working to preserve the Group, especially those divisions/subsidiaries that have been severely impacted by the global lockdown.

Valentine, a chartered accountant, is highly experienced and is committed to ensuring the sustainability of the Group. She has the Board and all our employees’ full support and we look forward to her leadership and guidance in steering the next phase of growth for AEEI. For more information refer to the CEO’s report

A special thank you is extended to Ms Chantelle Ah Sing who resigned as group chief financial officer (CFO) with effect 31 July 2020. Chantelle has been an integral member of the AEEI Group and executive management team for 11 years and has provided excellent leadership in her role as the Group CFO. Chantelle has chosen to pursue her higher education and other personal interests, and we wish her well in her future endeavours.

No stranger to AEEI, Mr Jowayne van Wyk, a qualified chartered accountant, was appointed as CFO of AEEI as of 1 August 2020 and comes with a wealth of experience both on the local and international fronts. Jowayne was an independent non-executive director of AEEI before taking up the role of Group CFO. The Board and I would like to assure him of our full support and cooperation in his execution of duties within the Group.


Messrs Bongikhaya Qama and Willem Raubenheimer were appointed as independent non-executive directors. We look forward to their fresh insights and contributions. As chairperson of the Board, I wish Bongikhaya and Willem well in their new positions and look forward to their contributions to the business.

Our gratitude for their service and advocacy to AEEI over the years are extended to Ms Chantelle Ah Sing, Advocate Dr Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Ms Moleboheng Mosia, who did not stand for re-election at the AGM held earlier this year. Refer to the section in Governance for more details on the Board.


This year we are proud to announce that we met the end of our five-year Vision 2020 Vision strategy launched in 2015 by concluding all our objectives. Refer to our Vision 2020 Vision .

Our growth strategy has laid a strong foundation for the next phase of AEEI’s evolution, which is earnestly being worked on. We now have a more diversified asset, investment and product base to reduce the exposure to risk and to secure access to distribution channels nationally and internationally. This will enable further value creation for our shareholders and stakeholders alike.

Enthusiastic about the next exciting phase for the Group, we are already considering our 2025 Vision strategy, which will be robust yet flexible. This will surely expand on the existing, solid business platform built to date. We hope to finalise the strategy going forward soon.


In my opinion, transformation, and the era of self-regulation in terms of changing the landscape of those in senior and executive levels in corporate South Africa, has been slow.

To us, transformation and inclusive economic growth is not a handout or a tick box. At AEEI we inculcate a unity of purpose and are inclusive in all our transactions – from the top, filtering all the way to all our employees.

AEEI addresses this issue through its detailed and active transformation drive, its corporate social responsibility programme, and its focus on empowerment in the true sense of the word.

I am pleased to inform you that AEEI has played a part in carving the way for our future nation through its skills development and corporate social responsibility programmes which are implemented in our businesses and the communities in which we operate.

At AEEI, we continue to drive the South African transformation agenda across our workforce and our value chain. I am happy to advise that the Group has been successful in providing equal opportunities and promoting our people through upskilling and succession planning.

Driving excellence and opportunities for all employees at AEEI is our focus on facilitating job creation, the employment of a diverse group of people, and our investment in training and development of our employees.

Investing in our employees and ensuring gender and race diversities are all key to driving excellence throughout the Group, thereby improving our ability to compete for business and deliver sustainable value to our shareholders, associates, partners, and other stakeholders.

To illustrate – not only has AEEI appointed the first black female CEO of the Group since its inception (as mentioned above), Mrs Rushaan Isaacs was appointed CEO of Premier Fishing and Brands Limited (PFB) on 1 February 2020 – a first for the country’s fishing industry, being the first black female CEO in the country. She has over 18 years of sales experience within the fishing industry, managing and developing strategy for global markets within the various fishing sectors Premier Fishing is involved in.

In addition to this, PFB’s subsidiary company, Premier Fishing SA (Pty) Ltd, one of the largest B-BBEE owned, managed and transformed fishing companies in South Africa announced post year-end, that it would be issuing shares to more than 900 employees in one of the largest transactions of its kind in the country and the fishing sector. Refer to our online sustainability report for a detailed breakdown of our B-BBEE representation.


The spirit of Ubuntu is strong at AEEI. With its meaning “I am because you are”, we apply that nebulous concept of common humanity – oneness. At AEEI we recognise that giving back is an imperative for any business, individual, or group.

As we continue to invest in our CSI programme with the aim of creating a sustained social impact in the impoverished communities within which we operate, a special focus is placed on previously-disadvantaged individuals and societies, to nurture and develop young people who represent the future of our country.

Having a physical presence in the communities has been a challenge this year, due to the restrictions placed during the COVID-19 lockdown regulations. This, however, did not prevent the Group from contributing and supporting its core focus areas which fall within the arts and culture, education, sports development, enterprise development, social development, and other adhoc requests.

Before the lockdown, and in the run-up to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, prior to it being cancelled due to lockdown, espAfrika managed to host a series of workshops ranging from the arts, music business, master classes, gigs for kids, and a free-community concert.

Our subsidiaries continue to assist its employees with bursaries and learnerships for their dependents’ further education, and AEEI continues to provide financial support for qualified ECD teachers’ salaries at “Where Rainbows Meet Training and Development”, a foundation based in the community of Vrygrond.

Various other CSI initiatives are also included in our drive for transformation and social upliftment in the areas in which we operate. For detailed information, refer to the online Sustainability Report.


At AEEI, we are cognisant of our sustainability focus areas and its impact on our stakeholders. Refer to our Sustainability section.

Stakeholder engagement at AEEI is supported by transparent and effective communication, mutually beneficial outcomes where possible, and inclusiveness and integrity. We participate in initiatives to inform and ensure a best practice approach in the areas of sustainability and social impact. We actively engage with our stakeholders to ensure the achievement of the best outcomes, while strictly adhering to good corporate governance practices.


As the custodians of governance, the Board serves as the focal point of good corporate governance, and with continued oversight while considering the Group’s strategic direction and purpose. The Board strives to ensure that everything we do is governed effectively, with integrity, transparency and in accordance with sound corporate governance practices. Our governance structures and processes are continuously reviewed to incorporate new developments, to facilitate effective leadership and to provide sustainable corporate citizenship in support of the Group’s strategy and to reflect national and international corporate governance standards, developments, and best practices. More about this can be read in Governance.


It is with sincere appreciation that I thank all our shareholders, associates, partners and stakeholders for their unwavering support and confidence in me as the non-executive chairperson of the Board. Not only do they have the utmost confidence in me, but also in the leadership teams who have remained steadfast in their implementation of our strategy of growth and value creation.

I would like to recognise the support and contribution of all my fellow Board colleagues, including our newest Board members, who have willingly and without prejudice, contributed their collective skills and experiences during the year.

On behalf of the Board, I extend my thanks and deep appreciation for the profound contributions of every employee during a critical and unprecedented period in world history. AEEI employees stepped up by diligently working from home during the lockdown period, and many sacrificed a part of their salaries in support of the Group’s sustainability. This, indeed, is evidenced by the spirit of our people.

I wish to acknowledge AEEI’s shareholders, partners, and stakeholders to thank them for their continued support and engagement throughout the years.

Lastly, it would be remiss of me not to, on behalf of the Board, extend my sincere condolences to those who lost their family, friends, and colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic.


As we mark AEEI’s 21st anniversary as a listed company, I take comfort from the Group’s resilience, although it is not taken for granted. The Board understands the extent of the work that is required to navigate successfully through the immediate macroeconomic storm, as well as the substantial changes that are required to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Group.

I look forward to chairing the Board through the next exciting growth phase of AEEI.




Non-executive chairperson