Wonga South Africa appoints Brett van Aswegen as its new CEO

Online loans lender Wonga South Africa has appointed furniture retailer Lewis Group’s former credit risk director, Brett van Aswegen as its new CEO.

Well known payday lender Wonga.com SA (South Africa) has recently hired a new CEO named Brett van Aswegen from furnature retailer Lewis Group. He was their credit risk director, and on the subject of the appointment Mark Ruddock of Wonga said, “After an extensive search, we’re pleased to secure someone of Van Aswegen’s strong calibre to lead our South African arm of the business,” commented Mark Ruddock, international MD for the Wonga Group”.

The appointment of Van Aswegen comes after the resignation of Wonga SA CEO Kevin Hurwitz in October 2014, and was allegedly kept quiet as he followed co-founders of the company Errol Damelin and Jonty Hurwitz out of the door. This happened after Wonga came under scrutiny from regulators in Britain, South Africa, and other places across the world. The company had to write off R3.9 billion, and with something of that magnitude changes in staffing and management are not surprising.

But enough about the company, what of the man? I hear you ask… Van Aswegan will be starting his new job around April/May 2015, and a look at his LinkedIn page can shed some light on his character, experience and job history. It says that he hasn’t been working for a few months, since he left his role as a managing director at AFB, a consumer finance business, and after 3 months working as an operations director at HomeChoice. At AFB he was in charge of a team of 500 people who brought the first retail credit card operation to Kenya, where they were market leaders.

Brett Van Aswegen began his career in the credit division of the Edcon Group in 1994, after which he joined with retail banking division. 5 years after joining Edcon he joined Lewis Group, where he went on to transform their credit operations by implementing credit systems, direct marketing strategies and risk models. He remained at Lewis Group for over 12 years, and joined the company’s board in 2006 as a credit risk director.

“During his tenure at the company he implemented credit systems, risk models and direct marketing strategies to make Lewis the first furniture retailer in South Africa to offer customer-level revolving credit facilities,” Wonga said.

Van Aswegen stood as a chairperson of the Credit Providers Association at the time when the National Credit Act was first introduced in South Africa and he “helped guide the credit industry through the transformation required with the introduction of the Act”. 

If you want to look at African business in more detail, check out the BBC’s African business report .

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