Africa’s Richest Woman Ventures Into Retail

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Angola’s – and Africa’s – richest woman, Isabel Dos Santos, 40, is partnering with Portugual’s largest retailer to launch a new chain of supermarkets, her first foray into retail, according to Reuters report.

The daughter of Angola’s president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Isabel has a net worth estimated at $3 billion, according to Forbes.

How an African “princess” amassed $3 billion in a country with a per capita income of $2 a day has been the subject of much discussion and several Forbes reports.

The first hypermarket is scheduled to open in 2015. Condis Angola, a retail investment company owned by Isabel, partnered with Sonae, Portugal’s dominant retailer.

Sonae has 400-plus retail stores spread across Portugual and is majority owned by Portuguese billionaire Belmiro de Azevedo. It operates in the food and non-food retail sectors, selling sporting goods, apparel, consumer electronics and appliances. Sonae is publicly traded on the Euronext and has more than 40,000 employees in 20-plus countries.

This is not Isabel’s first business venture with a Portuguese company. She has ties to other prominent Portuguese companies and business owners including Portuguese billionaire Americo Amorim, who is on the board of Banco Internacional de Credito (Banco BIC) in Angola with Isabel. She owns a large stake in ZON Multimedia, a listed cable TV company and Banco BPI, one of Portugal’s largest publicly traded banks.

A recent Forbes article said her fortune is largely the result of gifts of stakes in Angolan companies. In Angola, her assets include 25 percent of Unitel, one of Angola’s two mobile phone networks and 25 percent of Banco BIC.

“While Isabel is probably a savvy businesswoman in her own right, there are concerns that she is acting as a proxy for her father who has ruled the oil-rich country for the past 34 years,” the report said.