Jump to content

Magda Wierzycka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Magda Wierzycka
Magdalena Franciszka Wierzycka

1969 (age 54–55)
Nationality South Africa
Alma materUniversity of Cape Town
Occupation(s)entrepreneur, actuary, anti-corruption activist
Employer(s)Sygnia Ltd., Coronation Fund Managers, Alexander Forbes Group Holdings
SpouseSimon Peile
Children2 sons

Magdalena Franciszka Wierzycka[1] (born 1969 in Gliwice, Poland[2]) is a Polish-South African billionaire businesswoman.[3] She is the co-founder and CEO of Sygnia Ltd, a financial services company.[4][5] She is the richest woman in South Africa,[6] and is also known for her anti-corruption activism.[7][8] In 2020, the magazine Forbes listed her among "Africa's 50 Most Powerful Women".[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Wierzycka grew up in Jastrzębie-Zdrój, Poland[2] where she shared a 2 bedroom flat with her sister, brother, grandmother and parents who were medical doctors.[10][11] Wierzycka’s Jewish grandmother was a Holocaust survivor.[12][13] With the gradual economic collapse of Poland due to political sanctions and the subsequent imposition of martial law, Wierzycka moved with her family in 1982 to Austria where they lived for a year in the Polish refugee camp at Traiskirchen. Her parents were forced to dig ditches to earn a living.[14] Her family moved to South Africa in 1983 when she was just thirteen years old, with only USD500 in their bank account.[10] The family settled in Sunnyside, Pretoria, where she attended Pretoria High School for Girls.[15] Wierzycka had to learn English and Afrikaans swiftly because they are the primary media of instruction in South African schools and she spoke neither of the languages.[16] She then attended the University of Cape Town where she graduated with a Bachelor of Business Science and a Postgraduate diploma in actuarial science in 1993[17] because it was the only degree for which she could receive a bursary.[18]


While in high school Wierzycka worked at a supermarket selling cheese and cold meats.[19] Wierzycka’s career in the financial services industry began in 1993 when she became a product development and investment actuary at the Southern Life Association for Mutual Life and Accident Insurance (now part of MMI Holdings Limited). While at Southern Life, she paid back her bursary then spent two years building an asset consulting division as an investment consultant for the retirement fund clients of Alexander Forbes.[20] She joined Coronation Fund Managers, a third-party fund management company based in Cape Town, in 1997 as a director and Head of Institutional Business. At Coronation, she played a pivotal role in making the company one of the largest asset management firms in South Africa.[21]

After her stint at Coronation, Wierzycka became the CEO of the African Harvest Group in 2003. In 2006, she negotiated the sale of Metallon Corporation’s African Harvest Fund Managers, a R18 billion asset management company, to Cadiz Asset Management[6][22] She then led the management acquisition of the remainder of the group, which culminated in the establishment of Sygnia Asset Management, a financial technology company. Wierzycka became the company’s CEO in 2006. In a decade, she grew the company’s assets from R2 billion to R162 billion which resulted in Sygnia becoming the second largest multi-management company in the country.[23] On 14 October 2015, Sygnia was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.[24] Wierzycka serves on the Africa Advisory Board of Harvard University’s Center for African Studies.[25]

Anti-corruption activism[edit]

Wierzycka has taken strong positions against various instances of corruption in the public and business sector, notably addressing state capture by the Gupta family and their associates; KPMG; Steinhoff International; and other corruption scandals.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35]

Personal life[edit]

Wierzycka lives in Cape Town and is married to Simon Peile, who co-founded Sygnia with her. They have two sons.[36]


  1. ^ MarketScreener. "Magdalena Franciszka Wierzycka - Biography". www.marketscreener.com. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b Rębała, Monika (19 March 2020). "Polka najbogatszą kobietą w RPA. "Stworzyłam własną firmę, by mówić to, co chcę"". www.wysokieobcasy.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Billionaire Magda Wierzycka bids Twitter farewell after her cyber-lynching". The Citizen. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Magda Franciszka Wierzycka - Biography". www.4-traders.com. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Magdalena Franciszka Wierzycka: Executive Profile & Biography - Bloomberg". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  6. ^ a b "The Wealthiest Woman in South Africa Shares Her Tips for Success". Marieclaire.co.za. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  7. ^ Watson, Amanda (22 January 2018). "Gigaba the catalyst behind a multibillion-rand civil claim against Eskom, Zuma, Guptas". The Citizen. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Eskom lawsuit: We have a strong case - Magda Wierzycka - CNBC Africa". CNBC Africa. 15 December 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  9. ^ Africa, Forbes (6 March 2020). "Africa's 50 Most Powerful Women". Forbes Africa. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Magda Wierzycka: When it comes to your money, trust no one". The Disruptors. 25 April 2017. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Connecting People Through News". Sunday Times. 21 January 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018 – via PressReader.com.
  12. ^ "Getting to know the head of Sygnia : Magda Wierzycka | IOL Business Report". Iol.co.za. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Backstory: Sygnia's Magda Wierzycka". Business Live. 28 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Under The Skin : In conversation with Magda Wierzycka, CEO at Sygnia Asset Management Part 2 of 3". Enca.com. 1 March 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  15. ^ Grant-Marshall, Sue (30 April 2017). "Winning women: Queen of disruption". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  16. ^ "EVENT - Magda Wierzycka: The Story Of An Extraordinary Entrepreneur — Heavy Chef". Heavychef.com. 24 July 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Magda Wierzycka - Advisory Excellence". Advisory Excellence. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  18. ^ "EVENT - Magda Wierzycka: The Story Of An Extraordinary Entrepreneur — Heavy Chef". Heavychef.com. 24 July 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  19. ^ "Backstory: Sygnia's Magda Wierzycka". Financial Mail. businesslive.co.za. 28 November 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  20. ^ Sue Grant-Marshall (30 April 2017). "Winning women: Queen of disruption". Fin24. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  21. ^ "Wealthy SA female entrepreneur Magda Wierzycka: 3 secrets to success". BizNews.com. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  22. ^ "Mzi backing R2bn gold listing". Fin24.com. 19 May 2004. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  23. ^ "Magda Wierzycka: My Journey From Polish Refugee To Business Powerhouse In Africa — Heavy Chef". Heavychef.com. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  24. ^ Neo Khanyile (14 October 2015). "Sygnia stock surges as money manager debuts on JSE". Moneyweb. Bloomberg. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  25. ^ "Africa Advisory Board | Harvard University Center for African Studies". Africa.harvard.edu. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  26. ^ "Sygnia supports anti-corruption organisations with new unit trust mechanism". Corruption Watch. 22 June 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  27. ^ "Corruption-fighter Sygnia seeking law and order for SA | IOL Business Report". Iol.co.za. 13 December 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  28. ^ Caroline Wambui (8 July 2018). "Corruption in SA a destructive spiral". Moneyweb. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  29. ^ Gosebo Mathope (11 October 2017). "The private sector perpetuates corruption and not held to account, says Sygnia CEO". The Citizen. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  30. ^ Liesl Peyper (30 October 2017). "Business as complicit as state in corruption, says Wierzycka". Fin24. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  31. ^ Thamm, Marianne (15 December 2017). "State Capture: Helen Suzman Foundation and Magda Wierzycka sue President Zuma and 74 others". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Magda Wierzycka on SA economy, Ajay Gupta, corruption". Fin24. 4 July 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  33. ^ "Exposed! Magda Wierzycka unpacks fresh evidence linking KPMG to dirty Gupta deals". Biznews.com. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  34. ^ "Magda Wierzycka on KPMG: I wouldn't rush to them tomorrow | Fin24". Fin24.com. 16 September 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  35. ^ "Magda Wierzycka asks hard questions about Steinhoff and asset managers | Fin24". Fin24.com. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  36. ^ Ardé, Angelique (25 August 2017). "Money habits of highly successful people | IOL Personal Finance". Independent Online. Retrieved 19 March 2018.

External links[edit]