Wendy Appelbaum: Philanthropist and the Richest Woman in South Africa


Wendy Appelbaum is a formidable force in South African business and philanthropy. She is one of the country’s wealthiest businesswomen. With a net worth of R. 2.6 billion, approximately $150 million US. She is the Chairperson of DeMorgenzon Wine Estate, with substantial stakes in Liberty Holdings Limited and Wiphold. Appelbaum has dedicated herself to philanthropy, notably contributing $23 million to establish the Gordon Institute of Business Science and the Donald Gordon Medical Centre. 2012 Forbes Top 10 female Millionaires to watch in Africa.

Early Life and Education

Wendy Donna Appelbaum, born in South Africa, is the only daughter of Sir Donald Gordon, founder of Liberty Group, and Peggy. Growing up in Johannesburg with brothers Richard and Graeme, Wendy developed a diverse skill set through various sports and games. This ultimately contributed to her success in business. She pursued Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand and later joined her father at the Liberty Group. Eventually, Wendy Donna Appelbaum became a director at Liberty Investors.
Family and Personal Life
Married to Hylton Appelbaum, Wendy is a proud mother of two sons, Nicholas and Matthew. Nicholas is a surgeon, while Matthew has pursued a career in banking. Hylton manages the wine garden and holds key positions in organizations such as the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Chairman of Mindset Network.

Professional Journey

Wendy Appelbaum’s early career saw her working within her father’s company, Liberty Group, where she became one of the company’s largest individual shareholders. In 1994, she co-founded Wiphold, a groundbreaking investment company empowering women from all walks of life. Wendy later sold her shares in both Liberty Holdings and Wiphold, embarking on a new venture in 2003. She started with the establishment of De Morgenzon Wine Estate, renowned for its award-winning Chenin Blanc.
Philanthropic Endeavors
Appelbaum’s philanthropic efforts include co-founding Wiphold in 1994, a pioneering investment company empowering women. In 2011, she founded the Wendy Appelbaum Institute for Women’s Health, dedicated to advancing comprehensive healthcare for women in South Africa.

Beyond this, Wendy has donated generously, contributing $23 million to establish the Gordon Institute of Business Science and the Donald Gordon Medical Centre.

She serves as a trustee for The Donald Gordon Foundation and founded the Wendy Appelbaum Foundation, focusing on health, education, and women’s empowerment.

Recognition and Leadership

Wendy’s influence extends globally, with memberships at Harvard University’s Women’s Leadership Board, the International Women’s Forum, and a board position at Synergos Africa. In 2012, Forbes recognized her among the Top 10 female millionaires to watch in Africa.


Passion defines Wendy Appelbaum’s journey, as she advises, “Whatever you do, best you be passionate about it.” Challenging expectations from a young age, she has become a prominent figure, arguably the richest woman in South Africa today.

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