“Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.”

From Nelson Mandela: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Kagiso Mamabolo



Organisation / Company

Parliamentary Budget Office of South Africa


Kagiso Mamabolo, 35, is an economic analyst at the Parliamentary Budget Office of South Africa. Here, she has the responsibility of informing MPs about the economy, state of public finances and the government’s performance. Her job requires her to have a deep understanding of the socio-economic elements that underpin the South African economy. She is also required to advise on fiscal framework amendments and policy proposals that will affect the country’s coffers. In addition to high-level insights, Kagiso ensures fiscal policies balance financial responsibility with social welfare so the interests of vulnerable people are protected. At its core, her work is a combination of her specialised knowledge and her commitment to social justice to promote policies that foster inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. Coming from the private sector and into the public sector, one of her key achievements was facilitating a major investment that created hundreds of jobs. This experience, she says, taught her that it takes refined and special skills and tools to deal with the prevalent social issues including unemployment, inequality and poverty. “I learned to be fearless in negotiations and to always strive for more, primarily when it benefits society,” she says.


Master of Commerce in Economics, University of Pretoria
Master of Science, Three Continent Masters of Global Management, Fordham University, Antwerp Management School & Xavier Institute of Management
Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Economics, University of Pretoria
National Diploma in Accounting, Tshwane University of Technology


I am most proud of my work at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, where I successfully translated South Africa’s trade policy developmental agenda into tangible outcomes. One notable achievement involved a South African company specialising in wood products, which initially applied for a government incentive to construct a mega plant, committing R1.4 billion and 51 new jobs. By working closely with a colleague, we negotiated additional commitments from the company, resulting in an increased investment of R1.8 billion and the creation of an additional 99 jobs by 2024

Overall, I facilitated investment projects to the sum of over R7 billion, creating more than 400 jobs. Transitioning from the private sector, I quickly realised that conventional approaches would not suffice to address the pressing issues of unemployment, inequality, and poverty in our country. This experience taught me the importance of leveraging the limited tools we have effectively and never accepting “no” for an answer when opportunities to address the country’s challenges arise.

I learned to be fearless in negotiations and to always strive for more, primarily when it benefits society. This project underscored the impact of determination and innovative thinking in achieving significant economic and social outcomes.


My journey has been primarily shaped by my own experiences rather than by mentorship or role models. As the first in my nuclear family to achieve many milestones, I have navigated uncharted territories: I am the first to earn both a university and a master’s degrees, the first to study abroad, and the first to forge a career like the one I am building now. Growing up in Soweto, I was constantly surrounded by adversities—poverty, overcrowded living conditions, unintended pregnancies, and limited resources. This environment lacked tangible examples of realised dreams, leaving me no blueprint to follow. Driven by a fierce determination to break the cycle of struggle that I experienced and witnessed daily, my path has been pioneering. Each step forward has been motivated by the desire to serve as a living testament to what is possible for my family and my community. While I did not have traditional mentors or role models, the challenges I faced instilled in me the resilience and ambition that have guided my decisions and accomplishments. My journey stands as proof to those who follow that overcoming obstacles and achieving success is possible, even in the face of significant barriers.