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It Hurts Seeing My Country Becoming The Most Corrupt Nation

Richard Maponya and Monalisa Sam are generations apart but they share a belief that black economic empowerment is hurting young entrepreneurs.

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“You must keep going, don’t let go,” replies the teacher.

A moment across a table as an African trailblazer in business uses his lessons in life to help shape a young entrepreneur.

The teacher is 86-year-old Richard Maponya; his pupil is 32-year-old Monalisa Sam. They grew up worlds apart with the same aim.

Maponya, a trained teacher who never taught, joined a company in the 1950s to sell clothing to miners. This job spurred him on to become an entrepreneur.

For more than 50 years, Maponya did everything. He sold clothes door-to-door, meat to butchers, BMWs to the rich and property to the wise. Most came in oppressive apartheid days when Maponya was shunned at every turn.

Maponya Mall is his holy grail. It took Maponya $62.8 million, 28 years and a string of lawsuits to carve out the first shopping mall in the bustling Soweto.

“It was like a war, I don’t know how many times I had been turned down by the apartheid government,” Maponya says.

 

Former president Nelson Mandela opened the mall in late 2007. In 1957, Mandela, then a young lawyer, assisted Maponya when the businessman was trying to obtain a license to open a retail clothing store.

By contrast, Sam is the daughter of a former headmaster, who had it easier. Her father, Gideon Sam, is now the South African Sports Confederations and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) president. Sam was part of the first generation of black children to enrol in formerly whites only schools. She has a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting degree from the University of Cape Town and was employed by Old Mutual Properties.

Their paths crossed when Sam was a general manager for Maponya Mall Property Trust in 2007. A friendship was forged in the two years she worked there, before she left to co-found Tungwa Retail Holdings in 2011, a company run by black women.

“When we interviewed Monalisa for the job, there were many others but she was the star. We grabbed her with both hands. And we were not disappointed by our decision. She’s very talented and confident. I know she will go very far,” says Maponya.

To this day, Maponya, albeit frail, hasn’t lost his hunger for business, nor his dress sense that made him a snappy salesman a lifetime ago.

The mentor and protégé meet at Maponya’s house in Hyde Park to catch up and assess how the young entrepreneur is faring.

“The business is coming on well, Papa, but as any entrepreneurial project it takes time with a lot of challenges. But we are grounded on what we want to do. We will keep going,” Sam tells Maponya.

Maponya surprises his protégé with talk of a new business.

“I have been very busy with a little challenge. I have ventured into the chicken industry. It has been monopolized by Afrikaaners and I just felt I had to have a crack at it and see if I can make a difference and see if I can encourage some of the black folks to join in. It is not an easy industry,” he says.

“If you want to succeed in this industry you must own everything. Don’t depend on other people,” Maponya advises his student.

The talk veers towards the government’s black economic empowerment (BEE) policy aimed at wealth redistribution. They both feel it has failed.

Maponya criticizes the BEE policy and tender system which the government uses to give contracts to the public.

“They came up with something they themselves cannot control. The white men saw opportunity in the BEE. It has created so many white millionaires as it made it possible for them to just pick a black person and say this is my BEE partner,” says Maponya.

“As the black partner you never get access to finances, you don’t know what’s going on with money, you are not empowered, you are just a token,” Sam interjects.

They agree BEE has failed to spread wealth. It is benefiting the few with political connections.

“The other thing it does Papa, it encourages a sense of entitlement among black people. There’s this idea you don’t have to work, you don’t have to understand anything. If you are just there as a black person, you are going to get something,” adds Sam.

Sam says the deals are out of most people’s reach.

“It has done a lot of harm, it has killed the youth initiatives,” says Maponya.

“Tendering is the worst thing that has ever been created. It has become a monster that has corrupted people from right at the top of government to the bottom of the ladder,” says Maponya.

“The idea is that you will never get a tender if you have not done something unscrupulous. Some say by the time it comes out in the papers it is too late. Newspaper advertisement is just a formality to say we are transparent,” says Sam.

Maponya says the government must scrap the tendering policy.

“It hurts me seeing the country becoming the most corrupt nation in the continent,” says Maponya.

The National Empowerment Fund (NEF), the government funding agent, argues that it is doing its job with distinction and merit.

“The relevance of the National Empowerment Fund is far beyond question. There’s no other (funding) entity that does what we do, no bank that does it. NEF is run with absolute integrity,” says Moemise Motsepe, the marketing and communications manager of NEF.

On average the NEF receives more than 300 applications a month. Those that are not successful are considered for a business mentorship program that runs over six months, says Motsepe.

“To date the National Empowerment Fund has funded over 500 black businesses which have created over 44,000 jobs. Over 20% of the beneficiaries are women,” he adds.

Despite these problems, Sam is far from discouraged.

“If you listened to Papa’s story when he started, the times were different but the business principles are the same of saying take the opportunity, understand where the gap is and how you service that gap,” she says.

“For many years, Papa nurtured his dream of building and owning a world-class shopping center in Soweto. In my time at Maponya, I learnt so much from him. But the most important thing he has taught me is humility and patience.”

It is evident in the conversation that the duo’s problems are different but the suffering is the same.

Like his clan totem elephant, which is the emblem on his business and tie, Maponya remains a heavyweight in business who is far from ready to give up his title.

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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Entertainment

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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