Thabi Nkosi, 37, is chairperson of the board of directors at the Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa. She is one of the country’s few female agricultural economists in a sector still dominated by men.
At the end of 2021, she was appointed the first woman chairperson in the organisation’s 110-year history and was also the youngest person to hold this position. During her tenure, she and her team have been able to restore the entity to profitability and to strengthen governance and operational capacity, repositioning the bank for long-term sustainability and ensuring it services the needs of all South African farmers.
Thabi started her career at the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy and the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, before joining Santam Agriculture Insurance. She later joined Agri SA as lead economist, and then led the agricultural investment desk at the Public Investment Corporation.
In this role, Thabi was also a FutureGrowth (Old Mutual) AgriFund investment committee member and served on the board of poultry producer Daybreak Farms. Thabi then joined AFGRI Group Holdings as executive director of group investments.
She later founded African Green Alpha, a food and agribusiness investment vehicle. She also chaired the Mintirho Foundation, an investment vehicle set up by the Coca-Cola Bottlers of Southern Africa to provide capital to emerging farmers.
Thabi uses her role as mentor to unlock the potential of women as a transformative force in society.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Be kind to others but don’t forget to also be kind to yourself.
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
Beyond mentoring young women and helping them to navigate the challenging spaces in which I have often found myself, I believe in tangibly empowering women through providing them with opportunities to lead and supporting them to succeed in those roles. I do this by being a vocal advocate of women in the workplace and fostering an environment of inclusion in the organisations I work with and the teams that I lead. I also ensure that this commitment to equality comes across the work that I do. For example, the Land Bank places specific emphasis on the funding of women farmers. This is a deliverable that is tracked and measured in a tangible way.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
For every young person in South Africa to have access to employment and growth opportunities and to be boundless in the fulfilment of their potential. I believe that the young people of South Africa are dynamic and extremely hardworking. It saddens me deeply that the lack of opportunities in our country does not allow them to fully step into their light and to contribute to making this country an even better place to live.