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The Fear That Made A Fortune

Millionaire Venancio Matusse will never forget December 4, 1997—the day he got the fright of his life, that changed his life.

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It was fear more than ambition that drove Venancio Matusse to become one of Mozambique’s richest people. Terror swept through the mind of Matusse as he stood helplessly watching his baby son fight for breath on a December morning in 1997.

The diagnosis from the doctor was grim. Little Venancio Junior needed heart surgery and that meant an expensive mercy trip across the border to South Africa. The doctors who could save the child’s life were at the private Sunninghill Hospital, in Johannesburg, a seven-hour drive away.

“I had to try to find money for the surgery. My friends in private business lent me the money, but when I came back I realized l could not pay for the health of my kids; my job did not provide for that, so it set me thinking,” he says.

Until then 48-year-old Matusse, who was born in the wilds of Gaza Province, lived a quiet life in academia at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, where he lectured in engineering.

“My training as an engineer and teaching at university gave me a way of looking into opportunities. For me, an opportunity is a challenge.”

The first challenge for Matusse was to set up in business before he left the security of a university post. As an engineer, his skills were in demand, as the economy of Mozambique began to stir after decades of stagnation. There were consultancy jobs on offer in Maputo and Matusse worked on everything from quarries to roads and railways.

“I decided in those early days that the result of my consultancy was going to be shares instead of money. I needed capital more than I needed cash,” he says.

The breakthrough came when Matusse became one of 42 shareholders who make up an elite group of consultants called Mozambique Gestores, specializing in big projects like ports.

Since then, Matusse has built up an impressive portfolio of interests in companies employing 300 people and turning over tens of millions of dollars. Among them: Paper Soft, an IT solutions company; engineering company BMG; a 45% stake in management system solutions companies Socarto and Ambisig; and a partnership with a Portuguese consulting company.

“I have a problem with routine. I acquire companies and let my partners run them,” he says.

It was another glorious Maputo morning when we met at the Polana Hotel, perched on a cliff overlooking the deep blue Indian Ocean.

The Polana, with its wrought-iron staircases, large chandeliers and white pillars, always puts me in mind of the Titanic. It is the hotel where the deals are done these days. With a glance around the luxurious lounge, you can pick out the tables where business people from Mozambique are cutting deals with foreign investors.

Matusse is fresh from a memorable Friday night out in Maputo. For a good night out in Africa, the capital

of Mozambique must be at the top

of the list.

“I work hard and I play hard,” he says with a smile.

We sit down around the marble table. Matusse comes across as unassuming, softly spoken and keen to tell his story—a man bold enough to talk of his connections with President Armando Guebuza.

“You will find him in my companies, but from long before he was president,” he says breezily.

Fernando Lima, a journalist based in Maputo, believes President Guebuza is encouraging a new breed of entrepreneurs like Matusse in Mozambique.

“The president likes smart people and young people with ideas. What we are seeing is the emergence of an educated and committed black elite,” says Lima.

Another journalist, who asked not to be named, says: “Matusse is close to the president, has influence and can open doors for people.”

Matusse himself is concentrating on business and looking to the future. In 2002, he launched his own investment and consultancy company, Mutxisso, named after his great-grandfather. The company concentrates on attracting investment and supplying skills in projects for what is arguably Mozambique’s greatest need.

“We need infrastructure. The weak points in Mozambique are infrastructure and training.

It hasn’t always been plain sailing,” he says.

“I have made mistakes in choosing people. I always try to retrain people if I can, which is not always the best option.

“I have also made mistakes in projects. Once I had to turn around two factories, both making spare parts for locomotives. The factories had only one customer: CFM, the national freight railway company of Mozambique. That proved a problem to have all our eggs in one basket… I think all of this has taught me perseverance; you have to be focused on what you want.”

Matusse is reputed to be one of the richest people in Mozambique. He says he doesn’t know what he is worth; merely that he doesn’t owe anyone anything.

And what of young Venancio Junior, the sickly son who set off his father’s remarkable entrepreneurial career?

He is now 15 years old, healthy, a footballer and as strong as a horse.

“One day he says he wants to be an engineer, and the next day he comes to me and says he wants to be a footballer,” chuckles Matusse.

“He is going to be an engineer; I just haven’t told him yet!”

Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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Entrepreneurs

Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.

The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.

Watch below:

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