Francois van Niekerk is a successful entrepreneur and award winning philanthropist. He is the founder of the Mertech Group and the co-founder of Atterbury Property. He is also a committee member of the Mertech Group and the Chairman of Atterbury Investment Holdings.
Besides work engagements van Niekerk serves as trustee of the Foundation of Children with Hearing Loss, as council member of University of South Africa (UNISA) and is the Director of Sabinet Online. He also founded Mergon Foundation and is the Chairman of the foundation. This is where his philanthropic activities are mainly conducted.
Van Niekerk is a UNISA MBA graduate and gold medalist.
Philanthropy and Sponsorship
Francois van Niekerk was 40 years old when he started an IT company and named it Infotech. After running for around nine months, his capital was exhausted and the company was about to become bankrupt. At this point in his life van Niekerk came to the realisation that he needed help with dealing with this crisis. He turned to religion and made a vow to God that he would donate 30% of his earnings towards philanthropic work if he became successful in his business endeavours. This happened in 1980 and was a turning point in van Niekerk’s life and in the viability of his business.
Infotech rapidly grew to become a successful international corporation, and was renamed the Mertech Group. After achieving this success van Niekerk honoured his vow and established a charitable foundation called Mergon Foundation Trust. The name Mergon was derived from two Greek words, ‘nome’ and ‘ergon’ – ‘nome’ meaning area where a flock grazes, and ‘ergon’ meaning effectiveness. He subsequently started transferring 30% of the company’s shares to the foundation’s trust, and this percentage was increased for some time to 70%, before being somewhat diluted with an investment in 2008. Every project that the Mergon Foundation is involved with is directly funded by profits gained from shares in the Mertech group of companies.
Through Mergon, Francois van Niekerk helps to fund several ministries for up to three years at a time. The foundation funds projects that include training and equipping ministries, transforming communities, youth ministries and scripture, and media.