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The Olympic Dreamer With His Head In The Clouds

Max Hussmann spent a large part of his childhood flying between Africa and Europe. The aspiring Olympian now has his own stake in the aviation industry.



Max Hussmann was just an 18-year-old when he realized he wanted to make his own money. He would do this through Elegance Group, a company in the business aviation industry. While doing this, Hussmann is also swimming laps in the pool in the hope of competing for Germany in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Born in Accra, Ghana, Hussmann completed his schooling in Germany and spent most of his time flying between Africa and Europe.

At the time, his parents worked in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea and the young Hussmann learnt to speak French, Portuguese, German and English. When Hussmann was about to turn eight, his mother took him to a school in Germany. He stayed there until he completed a degree in international relations and finance.

“My holidays were always spent catching a plane and flying down to Africa to see my dad. And then I always went back and forth,” he says.

Once his degree was completed, he spent a summer working in Greece and forgot about a career in international relations and finance.

“I always wanted to become a pilot. Aviation was always my big dream,” says Hussmann.

After a few chats between father and son, it was agreed that the family would pay half the cost of a pilot course in Germany and Hussmann would pay the rest. His father would pay the other half back to him when he completed the course.

But when an opportunity arose to work for Brazil’s largest carrier, TAM Airlines, Hussmann didn’t think twice. He packed his bags and moved to Brazil without finishing the course.

After two and a half years in Sao Paulo , Hussmann had dinner with the former vice president of TAM Airlines, Fernando Sporleder. The dinner was a brainstorming meeting on aviation. It was over starters that he realized he wanted to make it on his own. There were a lot of decisions made by TAM Airlines’ management that he would have done differently. He realized the airlines were doing things he could do himself.

Business aviation was a tough industry and needed a lot of capital to break into. It was a market that was growing incredibly fast in Latin America and Europe.

But his idea for Elegance was an unrealistic one. It was a dream based on risk.

At the same time, he felt the need to finally finish the pilot course at the Gryphon Flight Academy in South Africa, where it was most affordable.

“Having my heart and spirit set on the African continent was for me the point of a very simple decision that I’m going to South Africa. I moved to Cape Town initially. Obviously as a foreigner in South Africa your dream is to be in Cape Town. I stayed in Cape Town for a year and very quickly realized that Cape Town wasn’t the place for this industry I want to get into,” says Hussmann.

He moved to Johannesburg a year later where he finished the course. Elegance moved to South Africa just before the soccer World Cup in 2010 and Hussmann thought that the business would be able to play a role in the biggest sporting event in the world.

He had grown up speaking four languages and this was his opportunity to use them.

But he quickly learnt that it wasn’t going to be easy and Elegance had no chance in the market at that stage.

He says many governments still take aviation for granted. It is an overly regulated industry that lags on associated infrastructure investment and it is difficult for newcomers to cut their teeth in the industry.

“I realized there are big competitors here who have established successful companies. But, my goal was always from the word go, to one day turn around and be the bigger one and it still is. I want to be the bigger one, not through monopoly in the country and not through hierarchy, but through innovative and creative ways of business,” says Hussmann.

Elegance survived and thrived. Hussmann started Elegance Group which now has different targets and divisions that he hopes will help him attain his goal of becoming the industry’s leading aviation specialist. The divisions include a concierge and charter service called Elegance Air, a sport consulting division and Aviation Consulting which, since 2012, has a footprint in Germany, Hong Kong, South Africa and Brazil.

Hussmann says he is the first business aviation company in Southern Africa to offer the hour package flying principle.

“Companies are able to buy bulk hours of 25 or 50 hours and utilize them to their own flexibility. And it brings huge flexibility to companies, it brings a certain ownership to your hours, and huge tax benefits. Again, a concept that comes from Europe and hasn’t been implemented here,” he says.

One of the reasons it is not in Africa yet is that companies are worried that selling hourly packages is a huge risk in a country where the aviation sector is not yet stable.

But why have such a versatile company that combines sport and aviation?

“They’re both driven industries. I myself have been heavily involved in sports on the swimming side. It is both a future orientated and innovative industry. You can draw a lot of goals and focus from sport into business. Being versatile comes from something I’ve learned from Virgin Group. That’s exactly where Elegance Group is going. Not being rigid in one industry,” he says.

As for expanding the business and becoming an industry leader in the business aviation trade, Hussmann considers moving into countries similar to those that his parents have worked in.

Maybe Hussmann can win a gold medal in both African aviation and the Olympic Games. It never hurts to dream.


From The Arab World To Africa



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




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



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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