Shirley Gilbey

Group COO


I’m South African – by choice. There is nowhere else I would choose to live. I’ve backpacked across Africa, built two amazing Human Beings from scratch, and I’m an avid Gin-Junkie. I’m a patriot, an optimist and I believe in the power of the Human spirit.

My professional background is fairly diverse and I’ve worked in the field of human genetics, pharmaceuticals, banking, fintech, innovation, entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, start-up funding, business acceleration, and skills development. I’m excited to be part of The Click Foundation tackling South Africa’s early learning literacy problem. This feels like the most meaningful and important thing I could focus on for South Africa. My golden thread is doing good because I can, a passion for the potential for impact that technology brings, and simply to #makeSouthAfricabetter

I’m proud of launching the Barclays Digital Academy in Johannesburg, an organization driven to upskill motivated young Africans with a raw talent for Web and software development, for helping to establish and grow in Africa the largest global network of fintech entrepreneurs through the Rise community, and for co-founding Street Founders, an organization focused on starting businesses and creating wealth through the provision of practical opportunities for aspiring, high-potential South African entrepreneurs to build start-ups and gain real-world commercial business experience. I volunteer time as an advisor to social impact start-ups in the Healthcare sector as this is another space so needing positive disruption in South Africa.

If you could do one thing to change the world – make foundation phase education a key priority in every developing economy around the world.

My wish for the future South Africa – I wish for a safe, inclusive South Africa driven by a productive economy where our Gini co-efficient isn’t one of the highest in the world.

If I had an Extra hour a day I would – Drink gin, read or run. Perhaps not in that particular order.

Wise words I would hand down to the next generation – Life is a choice. All day, every day. Who we are, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It’s as simple and as complex as that. And as powerful.

My favorite things are – my kids, the smell of the Bush at dawn

The person I admire most is – every entrepreneurial founder who tries to disrupt their chosen sector. It’s an incredibly tough journey

The one place would love to visit and why – I’d love to see the blind pink dolphins while canoeing down the Amazon. I’m inspired by raw nature, untouched.