Nathan Kirsh 101: The Billionaire with a Global Footprint
Zatrun Published at May 29, 2024

In the vast landscape of billionaire businessmen, Nathan Kirsh stands out as a figure whose influence stretches far and wide. Hailing from South Africa, this Liswati entrepreneur has left an indelible mark on various industries across the globe. His story, as unraveled by, paints a portrait of a man who ventured beyond borders and built an empire.

Early Life and Education: The Foundations of a Visionary

Nathan “Natie” Kirsh was born on January 6, 1932, in South Africa. Growing up in a Jewish family in Potchefstroom, he embarked on his educational journey, culminating in his graduation from Potchefstroom Boys High in 1949.

Nathan Kirsh’s pursuit of knowledge led him to the University of the Witwatersrand, where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce in 1952. His commitment to education also earned him an honorary doctorate from the University of Swaziland.

A Journey of Entrepreneurship: From Malt to Multinational

Nathan Kirsh’s entrepreneurial spirit ignited early on when he began assisting his mother with his father’s malt factory in Potchefstroom in 1952. Later, in 1958, he took his first major step in the world of business by establishing a corn milling and malt business in Eswatini. This move marked the beginning of a journey that would see him play a pivotal role in the evolution of several industries.

Upon his return to South Africa in 1968, Kirsh made a significant acquisition by taking over Moshal Gevisser, a South African wholesale food distributor. It was in 1970 that he began to utilize Moshal Gevisser to supply goods to black shopkeepers, a move driven by the apartheid government’s restrictions on white business owners operating in black townships.

As a cash and carry business, Moshal Gevisser soon became a dominant food retailer in South Africa, a testament to Kirsh’s visionary approach. In June 1976, he took his expertise to the international stage by founding Jetro, a cash and carry store in Brooklyn, New York.

His expansion continued with the acquisition of Restaurant Depot in 1994, leading to the establishment of Jetro Holdings. These two entities, Jetro and Restaurant Depot, began operating as sister businesses under Jetro Holdings, solidifying Kirsh’s presence in the United States.

Navigating the intricacies of business and international markets, Nathan Kirsh encountered both challenges and opportunities. In 2003, an attempted collaboration with Warren Buffett to purchase a minority share of Jetro Holdings ultimately reached an impasse due to differing terms. Nevertheless, as of August 2018, Kirsh retained 75 percent ownership of Jetro Holdings, overseeing approximately 115 Jetro Cash & Carry and Restaurant Depot stores in the United States.

Kirsh’s business acumen extended beyond the food industry. In the late 1970s, he added Magal Security Systems to his portfolio, a company he listed on Nasdaq in 1993. His interests in Magal Security Systems continued, with him holding a 24.2 percent stake in 2009. However, the company’s involvement in providing fences in Israel stirred controversy. In 2014, Kirsh decided to sell his 40 percent stake in Magal to FIMI.

His journey led him away from South Africa in 1986, following the sale of a significant portion of Kirsh Industries to Sanlam. Over the years, his holdings have included companies like Mira Mag, Ki Corporation, and Minerva, showcasing his diverse range of business interests. As of early 2018, Nathan Kirsh maintained retail and property investments not only in South Africa but also in Britain, the United States, Australia, and Swaziland, illustrating his global vision.

The Family Man and Philanthropist: A Multifaceted Life

Beyond the world of business, Nathan Kirsh finds balance in his personal life. He is married to Frances Herr, and the couple shares three children, including their son, Philip Kirsh. Their home is in Ezulwini, Eswatini, a reflection of Kirsh’s deep-rooted ties to the region where he has also claimed citizenship.

Kirsh’s philanthropic endeavors are as extensive as his business ventures. He established the Kirsh Foundation, an international charitable organization committed to various projects, including microfinance initiatives in collaboration with Swazi chiefs.

These projects aim to provide affordable loans and financial literacy training to Swazi women. As of 2010, his seed fund, Inhlanyelo, had financed over 5,500 successful small businesses, significantly impacting the local economy. By 2015, around 20,000 people were employed by small-scale businesses initiated through the fund.

In a remarkable act of humanitarianism, Nathan Kirsh funded a mission in 2021 for the humanitarian NGO IsraAID to support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Eswatini, a testament to his commitment to the well-being of his adopted homeland.

Nathan Kirsh: A Visionary with a Global Impact

Nathan Kirsh’s journey is a testament to the power of vision, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. From his early days in South Africa to becoming a global business magnate and philanthropist, Kirsh’s story is a reflection of a life dedicated to creating opportunities, embracing diversity, and making a difference on a global scale. His legacy continues to inspire individuals from all walks of life, proving that with determination and vision, anything is possible.

Follow the developments in the crypto world. What would you like us to inform you about?