Ivor Ichikowitz is a South African-born industrialist, social entrepreneur, and philanthropist. New African magazine named him as one of Africa’s 100 most influential people in 2020. Ivor began his career during South Africa’s political transition in the early 1990s, working to support Nelson Mandela’s programme of democratisation, national reconciliation, economic and industrial normalisation and integration into the African Continent and the global economy.
For more than two decades he has built a number of successful businesses on four continents in energy, aviation, mining, retail, tourism, ICT, media and marketing, aerospace and technology, manufacturing and via his family foundation he has invested in environmental and wildlife conservation, education initiatives, responsible citizenship, and charitable activities.
Ivor is the Chairman of TransAfrica Capital (Pty) Ltd, a leading private equity group which actively funds scientific research and development projects in a bid to find innovative solutions for the continent, while incubating new businesses and reinvigorating legacy operations as well as developing infrastructure on the continent.
In keeping with his diversified business portfolio, Ichikowitz has interests in mining, renewable energy and mid-stream oil projects in various countries across Africa. He has also invested in creating a green economy in West Africa which includes eco-tourism, sustainable forestry, and agri-business.
Ivor is the Group Chairman of Paramount Group, the global aerospace and technology group, which is also the largest privately-owned business of its kind in Africa, and arguably the Southern Hemishere. The company employs several thousand people across 15 business units operating within the land, sea and air sectors. Through its unique portable manufacturing model, Paramount has helped industrialise client countries, providing new jobs and laying the foundations for sustainable indigenous and high- tech manufacturing sectors notably in South East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and soon several African countries too. The company is a trusted partner of more than 30 sovereign governments around the world.
He has a diversified real estate portfolio; prime residential, office and retail developments in South Africa, Europe and Australia, as well as numerous private equity investments across energy, media, banking, forestry, viticulture and art.
His passion for development and technology has meant that his companies have become leaders in the development and application of fourth industrial revolution technologies in digital design, digital prototyping, 3D printing and robotics. Ichikowitz has also made strategic investments into the development of wireless web access products and services as well as the development of a uniquely African search engine.
Ichikowitz is a firm believer in the African ethos of ubuntu; he exists because of others and it is this philosophy which underpins his commitment to philanthropy through the multiple award winning Ichikowitz Family Foundation, which he established in 2010.
The foundation’s ethos is to develop the next generation and the ones that come after, primarily through education to empower them to ultimately do it for themselves but also to ensure the preservation of the country’s natural treasures and the stories and histories of those who helped South Africa transition from the world’s pariah to an international beacon.
It is this which explains the establishment of the African Oral History Archive documenting the untold stories behind the key events that shaped Africa’s trajectory to liberation. In turn, #IAMCONSTITUTION was an acclaimed multi-media celebration of the 20th anniversary of the much-lauded South African constitution getting young and old to rediscover the document, to embrace it and to live its precepts. In 2020 Ivor’s foundation commissioned the most comprehensive survey of Africa’s youth, the African Youth Survey 2020, covering 14 African countries and interviewing over 4,000 youth. The purpose of this annual study is to provide a roadmap for governments, policymakers, investors and young people across the continent, who will be the world’s largest source of human capital, consumers, entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow.
The family has also been active in the war against poaching which has been decimating Africa’s natural resources. The foundation has funded a pioneering and unique anti-poaching academy where rangers are trained and equipped to tackle rhino, elephant and pangolin poaching. The foundation has donated aircraft and K9 units to South Africa’s Kruger Park and Gabon’s National Parks, setting up Gabon’s Anti-Poaching Rapid Reaction Force in the process to protect the endangered forest elephants.
Ichikowitz, who was an activist in the struggle against apartheid, experienced the challenges of a country in transition first-hand. He understands all too well the rigour and vigilance needed and the stability essential for developing nations – particularly African societies – to unlock their own potential and thrive for all who live in them.
It is this ethos that underpins the philanthropic interventions of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation. Three years after the establishment of the foundation, he became the first South African in the history of Switzerland’s prestigious Crans Montana Foundation, to receive its Prix de la Fondation award in recognition of his contribution to social and humanitarian development in Africa.
In building his businesses and his family foundation, Ivor Ichikowitz has been primarily motivated by an interest in finding solutions to problems faced by countries, communities, and individuals: from issues of economic development to industrialisation, national security, energy and the environment.