Celebrating the first woman in SA to receive a PhD in Development Finance: Dr. Nthabiseng Moleko

Written by Staff Writer

Feb 9, 2021

By Charndré Emma Kippie

A woman of many talents, Dr. Nthabiseng Moleko is a poet, author, the Commissioner of the Commission for Gender Equality, and the Deputy Chairperson of the Ikaha TVET College Council. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Empowerment Fund, and is a former CEO of the Joe Gqabi Economic Development Agency in Eastern Cape. Nthabiseng has worked extensively in business education and economic development, and was designated by the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM) as a leading future African researcher in finance and economics. To date, Nthabiseng lectures in economics and statistics at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), where she completed her PhD in Development Finance, in 2019 ─ she is the first woman in SA to receive this qualification.

Despite having a huge career to maintain, alongside continuous research work, she is on a mission to lessen poverty and fight for the economic rights of women in South Africa. During a virtual Inclusive Economic Growth-Oversight Summit in November 2020, hosted by Parliament, she addressed the fact that gender barriers mean the detriment of South Africa, limiting the nation’s potential. “Accelerating women’s participation in South Africa’s economic reconstruction: maximising the growth potential of provinces, districts, and localities”, she says.

 Her journey in academia has been remarkable. In finding a research area that complements her passion, she has been able to make significant contributions to society through her publications and in-depth lectures:

 “Having completed a PhD, I have gained more in-depth knowledge and therefore have more authority and a voice in that area. I am able to influence thoughts and thinking in my field, which is great”, she says. “We are in need of solutions to the multiple problems and complex issues faced on the continent, be they economic, in healthcare, scientific, the built environment and all other spheres and disciplines…I am proud to be black, in academia, and in the quantitative and economic space, which is predominantly male-dominated. If doors could open for me, a girl from Umtata, it is possible for other girls too, no matter their background”.


  • Every woman to fulfil her economic destiny. Women are hardest hit by inequality, poverty, and unemployment. If we can improve those things, women’s livelihoods would be improved.
  • For women to enter into areas of critical and scarce skills — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • To see greater representation of women at the highest levels of decision-making, women who fill the space in both the public and private sector, at executive and senior management levels, as well as at board level.

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