Some people’s lives are so inspiring, it should actually be told as a story…
What could possibly be the link between a mining magnate, a political activist, the National Intelligence Agency, an entrepreneur and a fashion designer? These actually all refer to one person – Vanessa Gounden. And this is her story.
Vanessa Gounden, first female mining magnate and arguably the most successful and pioneering female entrepreneur of our country, was born in South Africa in 1961, making her a typical child of first generation South Africans. She grew up on a smallholding with her grandparents in a mixed racial area near Durban. Vanessa spent her childhood helping her family, cutting and preparing roses to sell to the florists in the district. They were 4 adults and 16 children living in a house with no electricity or hot water. At the age of 10, the apartheid state of South Africa forcibly removed her family to a dormitory township with minimal facilities. They were also cut off from their previous livelihood.
Then, as a teenager, Vanessa joined the ANC, where she met her future husband. She combined her activism with getting a university degree and, later on, became a primary school teacher. After the ANC government came to power in 1994, she helped rebuild a new South Africa on personal request by late President Nelson Mandela. She served in the Mandela administration and became actively involved in the trade union movement, before becoming the director of change management in the police.
Later on, under President Thabo Mbeki, Vanessa headed up human resources for the National Intelligence Agency, recruiting the country’s top spies. But when her husband, who was then appointed director general of public enterprises, lost his job, she decided to join him in starting their own business together – something that would give new direction to her life and be the beginning of so many exciting opportunities.
HolGoun Investment Holdings was born – a South African investment holding company which was built from humble beginnings into an extremely successful multi-divisional company.
Today, Vanessa Gounden’s business interest spans healthcare services, financial services as well as lifestyle and leisure.
She is known as a fashion designer and is now also the owner of a recently launched flagship store on Conduit Street – the epicentre of London’s luxury shopping – making her the first South African designer to own and open a freestanding store in the United Kingdom. Her exquisite and unique clothing range, Vanessa G (which was first launched in London in 2011), has been seen worn by women like Yasmin Le Bon, Jade Jagger, Poppy Delevigne and Natalia Vodianova – all of whom reflect Vanessa’s ideals of strong women that have an appreciation of the arts and dressing in a considered manner.
To read the rest of Vanessa Gounden’s story follow this link.