This paper seeks to provide a coherent definition of BEE, which has the empowerment of the people as its prime objective. In the first section, I examine how the concept of empowerment has been used in the field of development. In section two, I introduce and critique the minimalist approach that emphasises individual empowerment especially through the creation of a filthy rich black business class without addressing the extreme poverty experienced by majority of the black population. In section three, I discuss the maximalist approach, which emphasises collective empowerment, that is, uplifting the living conditions of the majority of the black population. In section four, I analyse one of the government initiatives to promote BEE with a view of highlighting which of the two approaches have dominated the state policy.