Published 31 March 2017 by Business Report, Kabeo Khumalo

Cape Town – African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) group chief executive Khalid Abdulla was on Thursday named as the top empowered business leader of the year at the 16th Oliver Empowerment Awards held in Johannesburg.Abdulla said he was humbled by the award and credited AEEI’s board and his management team for continuing to implement the group’s 2020 strategic vision for growth and transformation.

“Since its inception, AEEI undertook to focus on growing the business and to provide the platform for empowerment of others, especially the empowerment of those disadvantaged individuals who are driven to succeed with us,” he said.

AEEI chief executive Khalid Abdulla was named as the top empowered business leader of the year at the 16th Oliver Empowerment Awards. Picture: Independent Media

AEEI, which was formerly called Sekunjalo Investments, invests in the fishing, information technology, financial services, food and healthcare industries. The Oliver Empowerment Awards are the country’s foremost awards recognising leadership and innovation in empowerment.

The awards are rigorously assessed and independently assured and provide recognition for companies that are integrating empowering business practice and delivering positive impacts in the marketplace, in the workplace and in the communities they operate.

Abdulla said the group’s success was due to its highly skilled empowerment management team, which put the company on the front foot for future growth.

“We are deeply honoured to have been recognised for our efforts with these awards, testament to our commitment to broad-based black economic empowerment, enterprise development and delivering strong financial performance with a holistic and sustainable business model,” Abdulla said.

The group has been on a spending spree in the past few years, particularly making significant acquisitions in the information technology space.

In 2015, it increased its stake in security and defence specialist company Saab Grintek Defence to 25percent – the deal was valued at R120million.

Aside from the Saab investment, the company has secured equity partnership with consumer brands group Pioneer Foods and fund management group Sygnia, for which it paid R10m.

The group last year acquired a 57percent stake in Midrand-based information technology company Puleng Technologies for an undisclosed amount. The award bestowed on Abdulla is one of the numerous given to the company in the course of last year.

In July last year, the Financial Mail announced AEEI as the top performer on the JSE, after it had demonstrated continued and consistent financial growth.

This followed recognition by Empowerdex on October 6, 2016, in its annual benchmark of JSE-listed companies as the Most Empowered Company under the amended codes as well as the Most Empowered Management Control.

Abdulla said that the work done in implanting the group’s 2020 vision and growing up in a racially divided South Africa had steered him and the company in the right direction.

“Where we have come from and what we experienced in years gone by has given me a different perspective on life and business.

“I see that echoed in many of my co-workers. What sets AEEI apart, and I believe has made us this solid and successful entity, is how we identify opportunities and our approach in taking these prospects forward to fruition.”

Full article here.