Thebe Ikalafeng

Founder, Brand Leadership

Thebe Ikalafeng is the pre-eminent global African authority in branding in Africa and the foremost advocate for a brand-led African renaissance. In a distinguished corporate career that started at Colgate Palmolive in New York, USA after being awarded the Marquette University American Marketing Association award for marketing excellence in 1992 and concluded in a lauded tenure as chief marketing officer for NIKE for Africa in 2002, he won over 75 industry awards globally. He is the founder of Brand Leadership, the award-winning Africa-focused branding advisory firm inducted into the New York based REBRAND “Hall of Fame” for excellence in branding in 2015; Brand Africa, a brand-led initiative to re-imagine Africa’s image and competitiveness; Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands, the widely referenced survey and ranking of brands in Africa, and Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA), to build the capacity and talent for Africa-focused brand leadership.

He has since been named one of the ‘100 Most Influential Africans’ by New African Magazine in 2013 and 2015 and one of the 100 Most Influential Creative People of African Descent in support of the United Nations ‘International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development’ in 2021. He has been honoured with the Financial Mail AdFocus Lifetime Achievement award in 2021 and the Public Relations Institute of SA Lifetime Achievement award in 2022 for his contributions to marketing, branding and communications.

A Chartered Marketer (SA), Ikalafeng holds BSc and MBA degrees specializing in marketing from Marquette University in the USA and a Master of Laws (LLM) in Intellectual Property from the University of Turin in Italy in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. He has also completed executive education at Wits Business School and Harvard Business School.


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