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Dr Lulu Gwagwa, chief operating officer of empowerment investment holding company Lereko Investments, is a petite powerhouse of a woman who looks 20 years younger than her age – even in her high heels and even though she’s almost 50.

“People are surprised and disappointed when they meet me”, she says. “They expect someone far more imposing.” Yet her diminutive stature has never stood in the way of her significant academic or professional achievements. Four years ago she joined fellow former strugglistas – former tourism and environmental affairs minister Valli Moosa, former North West premier Dr Popo Molefe and accountant Cedric Mapuru – as a partner in Lereko, and has not looked back. The recently appointed chairman of Tsebo Outsourcing, in which Absa Capital acquired a 49,9% stake earlier this year, says confidently: “I’m a shareholder in a company with people I like and get on with, and I’m content with myself”.

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