The CEO of Sygnia and anti-corruption activist, Magda Wierzycka, is one of the wealthiest women in the country. She was recently interviewed by Radio 702 and opened up about her path to riches.
Magda said that even though she had a tough childhood, she considers herself very lucky.
She arrived in South Africa as a 13-year-old refugee from Communist Poland and rose to the very top of the male-dominated world of finance.
"I spent about a year in a refugee camp - very much like the pictures you see of Syrian refugees. I arrived in South Africa not speaking the language and with no money whatsoever."
When Magda was still at school in Pretoria, she worked at a supermarket to help her family. She struggled with English, but excelled in maths and science, and earned herself a bursary to study actuarial science.
She co-founded Sygnia Group and became its CEO in 2006. Sygnia is a leader among asset managers in South Africa when it comes to the provision of low-cost, passively-managed investments.
"South Africa has been very good to me and I am a proud South African rather than being a very proud Polish person, which I'm not."
Magda says that she doesn't think about money but likes nice clothes and online shopping.
"I don’t have a huge attachment to material things… We live in an apartment."
She agrees that money is a great enabler as she has travelled the world because of it.
When asked if she has ever wasted money, she responded:
"Bitcoin! Bitcoin! Bitcoin! Bitcoin! I bought my first Bitcoin at $4 000 and my last Bitcoin at $18 000… I was completely caught up... I’ve lost so much money!"
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