When black billionaire investor Robert F. Smith announced last month that he would pay off the student loan debt of each graduate of Morehouse College’s 2019 graduating class, the gesture was applauded by many.
Just weeks after this announcement, the well-known philanthropist and private equity fund CEO is showing his generosity again as he has launched an internship programme for ethnically underrepresented students.
The programme, called InternX, will guarantee 1,000 students from ethnically underrepresented groups a paid summer internship in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Rising sophomores with a 2.8 GPA or higher are eligible, Atlanta Black Star reports, adding that AT&T, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and CitiGroup are currently some of the companies that will take InternX candidates.
56-year-old Smith is the Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity company he founded in 2000. The company has carved a niche for itself, fixing up enterprise software outfits and today has a value of about $46 billion in assets. Forbes puts Smith’s net worth at an estimated $5 billion and he is currently ranked number three on its 2019 billionaires list.
The businessman and philanthropist with a bias for educational and entrepreneurship development has, at the moment, joined a growing number of high-net-worth black personalities who are using their wealth to improve society.
Here are some top black billionaires who have also become generous givers.
The Cement and commodities tycoon, who retained his title as the world’s richest black man this year, has been stepping up his philanthropy through his $1.25 billion Dangote Foundation. Over the years, the foundation has given tens of millions of dollars to support initiatives in education, health, arts and human relief, Forbes reports. In March 2018, it was reported that the Nigerian business tycoon had donated a $3.5 million building to the Bayero University, Kano in northern Nigeria. The building, which is named after the Nigerian billionaire, will be the premises of the newly established Dangote Business School. Dangote, that same year, donated 150 cars to Nigeria’s police administration and 200 housing units to Boko Haram victims, as well as, $800,000 to the University of Ibadan. Last November, he donated a $2.7 million hostel to the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria.
The Nigerian oil, banking and telecoms magnate has, over the years, donated millions of dollars to several educational and religious institutions in Nigeria and Ghana, as well as, to humanitarian relief and the arts, Forbes reports. The second richest black man recently received France’s highest national honour from President Emmanuel Macron “in recognition of his contribution to the development of French-Nigerian relations, his appreciation of the French culture and also for the advancement and betterment of humanity.” This was after Adenuga had spent several millions of dollars in constructing the new headquarters of the Alliance Française Lagos, which is located inside the Mike Adenuga Centre in Lagos.
One of the richest and most powerful women in the world, the media mogul has, over the years, made generous contributions to various causes across the world. In 2018, she reportedly donated $100,000 to the Time’s Up campaign that seeks to empower women. That same year, she announced a $500,000 donation to March For Our Lives made by George and Amal Clooney. These were marches that took place across the U.S. in support of stricter gun control laws. When Hurricane Katrina struck, causing destruction to the Gulf Coast, Winfrey committed $10 million of her own money to help residents rebuild their homes. Through The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, Winfrey spent an estimated $140 million over the past 10 years to keep the boarding school for underprivileged girls operational, she told Variety in 2017.
South African billionaire and founder of African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), has been working to help the impoverished in his country, funding initiatives in education, arts, women, among others. He has been doing this through his Motsepe Foundation. Motsepe took a vow to give at least half of his net worth to philanthropy, either during his lifetime or upon his death when he became the first African to join the Giving Pledge in 2013. Last December, the mining magnate pledged to donate $250 million towards advancing South Africa’s land reform programme.
Nigeria’s first female billionaire and founder of Famfa Oil has, through her Rose of Sharon Foundation, given grants to needy widows and orphans to ease some of their challenges. With a net worth of $1.1 billion, Akalija, in 2016, donated a $2.7 million building to the Ajayi Crowther University, in Oyo, Nigeria. In April 2017, she donated $700,000 to the University of Osun and has started building a pediatric hospital for the same institution, according to Forbes.
Zimbabwe’s richest man, who is the owner of Econet, the African mobile telecoms giant, has, over the years, funded scholarships for orphaned children in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi through his Higher Life Foundation set up in 1996 with his wife. The foundation also funds the construction of libraries and other resource centres across the country. Recently, the businessman pledged the sum of $100 million to establish a fund to invest in rural entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe. This month, he made headlines for his generosity again when he pledged to build a home and pay a $1000 lifetime monthly allowance to the elderly woman from Harare who walked miles from Mbare to Highlands to donate to survivors of Cyclone Idai even though she did not have much.