Leon Louw is a well-known South African personality who, for over a generation, has been active in diverse aspects of public life.  He is credited with having had a significant impact on the course of events in South Africa, especially regarding the extensive economic reforms that took place during the last two decades of apartheid.  He has received numerous international awards, and, with his wife, Frances Kendall, has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Presently he is the Executive Director of the Free Market Foundation (FMF) and of the Law Review Project (LRP).

Leon co-authored South Africa: The Solution and Let the People Govern – both of which had a significant impact on the constitutional process.  SA: The Solution has been republished in various countries, including the USA and Canada, as After Apartheid, the Solution for the South Africa.  Many of the authors’ specific proposals for the post-apartheid constitution were incorporated in South Africa’s new constitution, despite having been almost uniformly dismissed at the time of publication.

Leon has spoken and lectured in 30 countries, and has been a guest speaker for many of the world’s most prestigious organisations.  He has given guest lectures or debated with scholarly opponents at all of South Africa’s universities, and has been consulted by many corporations, political parties and governments (directly or through the FMF, he has been consulted by various governments including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia, Russia (Yakut), China, Hong Kong, Malta, Malawi and Swaziland; he also assisted government advisors informally in Ghana, Hungary, Mauritius, Surinam and former Czechoslovakia).  Leon has also played a key role in the establishment of half a dozen of South Africa’s most respected institutes and NGOs.

Small and micro business, and black economic empowerment, have been Leon’s principle interest throughout his public life.  He has been intimately involved with and a prominent activist for organised and informal SMMEs, starting with the fledgling National African Federation of Chambers of Commerce (NAFCOC) and Johannesburg Street Vendors in the late 1960s.  Much of his life presently is spent with grassroots black communities in tribal areas and inner cities, fighting for their right to trade freely and own the land they occupy.

Leon is married to Frances Kendall, author and artist, and has three daughters, Justine, Camilla and Kate.

  • He loves classical music, especially Beethoven, travel (including to Vanuatu and Roratonga), nature, jogging and hiking.
  • He is a storehouse of worthless information, being fascinated by anything curious, weird or bizarre.
  • He is a contrarian who loves playing devil’s advocate.
  • He has recently ghost written a novel based in India.