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A Skateboard To Success

The idea came on a skateboard after a chat with a German judge. It led to an entrepreneur reviving one of Africa’s great cities.

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It is fitting that young entrepreneur Bheki Dube makes his money out of travelers. He has been on the move all his life. He spent years skateboarding and taking photographs in Johannesburg and Durban. It was on these rides that the backpacking idea was born two years ago.

Back then Dube, a Troyeville resident, in the east of Johannesburg, was a walking tour guide at the Maboneng Precinct, the trendy art and tourism hub of Johannesburg.

“During that period I worked really odd jobs like skate shops as a salesperson and as a cashier. Learning at a young age to cash-up, to manage stock, those are the qualities that I carry out today. I also worked at the Spaza Art Gallery and that exposed me to a lot of artists. I also worked at a call center for a month and I hated it, but I learned so much from it, I was calling people in homelands trying to sell cellphones. Those were skills and qualities that became significant,” he says.

In Maboneng, he met a German tourist who liked what he was doing and advised him to explore.

Soon after this encounter, Dube packed his camera and went backpacking for a week in Durban hostels. Fate led Dube to another German tourist who happened to be a judge and had been touring the world for 35 years. Dube said his acquaintance spoke passionately about Africa’s beauty and opportunities. In his dormitory, Dube met another traveler in the travel and export industry who had been there for over a year because she preferred backpacking to hotels.

Back in Johannesburg, Dube looked to build onto the walking tours. It was the brainchild of Dube and his partner Greg Solik, a businessman he met at Maboneng while they were trying to figure out the next big project. These tours became the foundation of their company, Curiocity Backpackers.

“It was a concept that encouraged people to discover Johannesburg because it was seen as a no go area, especially around our Jeppestown. So walking through the streets of Johannesburg and breaking away from the norms of tourist in buses and engaging with the space like the locals do,” Dube says.

On his return, Dube also met Jonathan Liebmann, the developer of the Maboneng Precinct. The two knew each other from Dube’s old job where he was a general worker at the independent cinema, The Bioscope. Dube sold tickets, set up the projector and swept floors. Liebmann had also been on Dube’s walking tours.

“I met him at the Bioscope while I was working there, Liebmann came in for a drink and one of the first things I said to him was ‘when I am your age, I wanna be greater than you’. He looked at me and laughed,” says Dube as he recalls their first meeting in 2012.

Dube sold his idea of backpacking to Liebmann. That was the birth of a business partnership and mentorship.

It didn’t take much convincing. Liebmann was a traveler himself and he immediately liked the idea of accommodation. So Curiocity Backpackers was formed and Liebmann helped to buy the property.

In early 2012, Dube found a derelict building owned by company called Pacific Press, in Jeppestown, Johannesburg. The premises had a political past, it used to be a place where pamphlets were printed for the Black Sash – a white liberal human rights organization.  It was also a hideout for political activists such as Nelson Mandela, Joe Slovo and Tokyo Sexwale.

Today, Curiocity Backpackers has grown to accommodate over 100 people per day and there are plans to expand to more luxurious and private sections.

“We have a guest by the name of Dwight who is from the USA. He has now invested in property in Maboneng and he was here about a year ago, stayed with us, fell in love with the space, fell in love with the lifestyle, fell in love with the culture,” says Dube

Almost half of Curiocity’s customers are international visitors, mostly from Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria, and Sweden. It has also seen a rise in people from South America and Australia. But there are fewer domestic travelers – at just 25% they are mainly students and rugby fans heading for nearby Ellis Park Stadium.

The notion that Jeppestown is crime-ridden has negatively impacted their bookings, says Dube.

Still they come to meet people and sleep soundly in the heart of the city.

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.

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