Billionaire Michiel Le Roux ditched a career in law before founding Capitec

Billionaire Michiel Le Roux ditched a career in law before founding Capitec

Capitec is one of the most well known banks in the country and last year Forbes named it the best bank in Mzansi. However, not many people are aware who the man behind the bank is.

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Sometimes the roads we plan out for ourselves lead to a completely different destination than what we had in mind.

Michiel le Roux is an example of this - he planned to become a lawyer but soon found his dream was, well, boring! Despite getting his degree in law, Michiel did not practice law and instead went into banking.

His decision to follow his heart instead of what would have been expected of an LLB graduate ended up making him one of South Africa's dollar billionaires.

In 2001, Michiel le Roux founded Capitec bank and it has made him a very wealthy man despite only owning 11% shares today.

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Briefly News took a closer look at the man who established one of South Africa's favourite banks.

Money can exist without fame

In a world were people make money putting their private lives on display for everyone to see, the South African billionaire prefers keeping his family life out of the spotlight.

There is no arguing that Michiel is a major name in the business world, but he is definitely not the Kardashians of banking.

Although it is public knowledge that Michiel is happily married with children, not much is known about his private life.

The billionaire, whose full name is Michiel Scholtz du Pre Le Roux, was born on 20 May, 1949. Michiel went on to study towards an LLB degree in Stellenbosch, however, he never practiced law.

Speaking to Cape Talk, Michiel said he never worked as a lawyer because he found the field to be "very boring."

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During the same interview, Michiel gave South Africans a bit of insight on his missus, adding his wife doesn't allow him to talk business at parties.

Aside from his LLB degree, Michiel also has an honorary doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch.

He joined Adv Thuli Madonsela and Prof Neil Turok to be honoured with a doctorate at Stellenbosch's March graduation ceremony in 2015.

The University said on its website:

"Michiel le Roux received the degree Doctor of Commerce (DComm), honoris causa, for his revolutionary renewal of the South African banking industry by developing a unique banking system that addresses the needs of the lower income part of the population."
Billionaire Michiel Le Roux ditched a career in law before founding Capitec
Adv Thuli Madonsela, Prof Neil Turok and Michiel le Roux became honorary Maties on 26 March, 2015. Photo: Stellenbosch University / Facebook.
Source: Facebook

Like father, like son

Michiel le Roux Jr followed in his father's entrepreneurial footsteps. In 2010, Fin24 reported the then 26-year-old opened a salad bar in Sandton.

Before embarking on the "adventure" of owning his own business, Michiel Jr was unemployed and he wrote a book during that time titled The misadventures of a COPE Volunteer: My Crash Course in Politics.

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From Managing Director of Distillers Corp to Billionaire

After getting his LLB degree and deciding law isn't for him, Michiel landed a job at Distillers Corp. He worked as the managing director until the mid 90s. He then worked for Boland Bank Ltd for several years.

In 2001, Michiel founded Capitec bank. He served as the bank’s board chairman from 2007 to 2016, as still holds a seat on the board.

Today, Michiel holds only 11% of the stakes in Capitec. However, his success has seen him become a very wealthy man. He is one of South Africa's dollar billionaires. According to Forbes, Michiel is worth a whopping $1.3 billion - which is about R18.85 billion at the current exchange rate.

He has opened up about starting Capitec and revealed the people who first used the services were distillers and farmers.

Michiel was quoted saying:

"Most of the people who started Capitec Bank with me came from Distillers and Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery."

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Last year, global brand research group Brand Finance published its 2020 Global 500 Banking report, which ranks the most valuable banks in world.

Only eight of South Africa's banks were featured on the list. The reported also listed the world's 10 strongest banks and only two locals banks made the cut.

According to Business Tech, a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score out of 100 was used to determine which brands were the strongest.

Capitec came out on top in South Africa, having been ranked the strongest banking brand in the country.

Michiel's company also made the top three banking brands in the world, walking away with a bronze medal.

Capitec beath SA's oldest bank FNB with a brand strength score of 89.2 compared to 87.6 It also has more customers than any other South African bank,

While speaking to Cape Talk, Michiel assured loyal customers that the bank will continue to accommodate people from all walks of life.

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"We’ll keep it simple. In 10 years it’ll still be recognisable as the bank you see today," he said.

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Social media users' conspiracy theories about Michiel's political views

Several social media users have made assumptions about which political party Michiel le Roux backs.

In 2019, social media user Sentletse, who goes by the Twitter handle @Sentletse, said:

"Chairman of Capitec, Michiel le Roux, and Tony Leon say that the EFF in Joburg and Tshwane is not good for the 'DA brand', meaning pro-poor policies aren’t not good for whiteness.
"But poor black people’s money is good for Capitec, which seemingly funds the DA that’s anti-black."

In February 2020, City Press wrote an article about Helen Zille staying at a DA donor's home rent-free.

The article revealed Zille resided in Michiel's Cape Town home for three months. However, the former DA leader defended the stay, adding it was not a conflict of interest because it happened before she made a return to politics.

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The Capitec founder was reported one of three author of a review report that recommended Mmusi Maimane be sacked.

While some people dragged Zille and the DA benefactor, others said that her staying at Michiel's home wasn't a concern.

Unathi Kwaza, @Unathi_Kwaza, wrote:

"DA funder's house. Where's the scandal? Lazy journalism."

Another tweep, @debbieflorence, added:

"Remember Mmusi forgot to return a car, now Zille overstayed a weekend by a few months... Corrupt or just lazy? You may need MUCH more of a story to get Zille ousted. Try harder. Please."

However, Professor Nomboniso Gasa explained why Helen's little vacay at Michiel's home was seen as a scandal.

Gasa said: "Le Roux was in the Federal Commission that recommended Maimane’s sacking. It’s a terrible conflict of interest."

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Source: Briefly News

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