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Father & Fire

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Richard Maponya was trained as a teacher that never taught but he has enough students in business to fill a stadium. In the 1950s, a young Maponya did everything, from selling clothes door-to-door, meat to butchers, BMWs and property to the wise and wealthy. He endured oppressive apartheid laws and was shunned at every turn. Despite this, he has built an empire that is an inspiration to budding entrepreneurs.

In his retirement, Maponya, 88, still finds time to do business on his computer in the comfort of his home in Hyde Park, a suburb north of Johannesburg. In this winter’s afternoon, we met him settled in his study suited and booted. Around him, myriad photographs with prominent people, from Nelson Mandela to Richard Branson, tell his story. Amid these pictures are the Order of the Baobab, an honor from government for his contribution to entrepreneurship and the economy.

It is some minutes before Chichi walks in, for the father and daughter catch-up, from a meeting with a Nigerian delegation for Brand South Africa.

Together, they reminisce about their struggles from a small shop in Dube, Soweto, to what is today the Maponya Group.

“People often remarked that this girl Chichi, had she been a boy, she would be just like me. But I don’t see a difference… I am very happy with her personal development. It is so pleasing when a parent sees a child stepping into her father’s or mother’s field when one is still alive. I am witnessing what Chichi is doing, representing South Africa. She’s now an asset of a nation,” says Maponya.

Maponya’s remarks go down well with his devoted daughter.

“She was a very humble and loving child when she was growing up. I knew there was something in her because she would do things that reflected some intelligence in her. I knew then she was going to be somebody. Now the evidence is before us. We can see what she has become,” says Maponya.

Chichi beams, hearing this. She could have been 12 again.

“I thank the foundation my parents made not only for me but for every South African. So many black people looked at my dad and said, wow, if he could start from such humble beginnings and make such an impact in the economy and their communities under such harsh and difficult conditions. And here I am, I have better opportunities now and there’s access to capital. Why would I want to fail? So a black child looks at it in that perspective. And then you have a different narrative. There are white people who say he’s such an inspiration because against those odds, being a black person, having everything against you, and you succeed. What would stop me as a white South African with everything going for me, not to succeed? Either side sees this as our South African legacy. We dare not fail,” says Chichi.

Maponya interjects to instruct Chichi to fetch a printout of an email on a mahogany desk.

“Absolutely, on that point, can you read this to prove what you just said?” he says.

“Dear Dr Maponya, I trust all is well. I am a big follower of you and respect you greatly. You are my role model and it would be a great honor to meet with you and help us and advise us in business. It would be a dream come true to meet with you in person and listen to how you started and where you are right now. Myself and my son have a fairly new business…,” reads the email.

Maponya says these frequent messages keep him going.

“For people to recognize what I have achieved during the difficult times in South Africa, I am humbled. During apartheid, black people were not meant to be businessmen. When I first came to Johannesburg, I wanted to be a businessman. But white government said no, you are here to sell your labor, if you want to be a businessman, you must go back to your homeland,” says Maponya.

Maponya acknowledged the influence of the Brazilians. He took Chichi with him to Brazil, in 2010, for business. Brazil once had an unemployment rate of 40%. Within 10 years, the country managed to reduce the number to 5%, he says.

Maponya sent Chichi to meetings when she was still at school.

“I was very fortunate to be mentored, the word mentoring didn’t exist at the time but when I reflect now I realize that was mentoring. Being taken under the wing, with my mom, we sat down and did books; going to meetings and negotiating business on behalf of family. That was mentoring,” says Chichi.

With Chichi in the driver’s seat, the Maponya legacy is guaranteed to live on. Like her father, Chichi has roped in her daughter Palesa Mabuse. Palesa is managing Chichi’s side business in outdoor media called Nalesa Media. Chichi also has Maponya Medical Solutions, which supplies medical equipment to hospitals.

“When you look at our history, there are not too many South African black businesses that succeeded the second generation. Most of them die with the founders. There’s that responsibility in me now that says I need to change the curve. I need to make sure that in my own little space, what was taught to me by my parents, I am able to pass on to my children. Hence when my daughter showed interest to work with me, I embraced it. I am nurturing her,” says Chichi.

“That was my teaching. When they went to school I would ask what other children carry at school. If they say it’s 20 cents, I would give her 20 cents. When she asked for more, I would say alright, when you come back you must come to the store and earn it. There was never money for nothing,” says the older Maponya.

After obtaining a BCom degree in economics management and marketing from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Chichi worked in a project management company; Black Like Me; South African Institute of Civil Engineering (SAICE) and Kwezi Asset Management, for more than a decade. She then returned to work with her father and their first project was Maponya Mall, her father’s holy grail, valued at R650 million ($52 million).

“When I finished my tenure at Kwezi, I went back to my dad and said I am back now. I had known they had always wanted to build a mall but they had not succeeded in doing it. I said let’s start now. You are the brains, you are the experience. Here is the fire now,” she says.

It took Maponya almost three decades and a string of lawsuits to carve out the first shopping mall in bustling Soweto, a township south of Johannesburg. In 2007, the former President Nelson Mandela launched the mall.

“I always knew that I will go back and work in the family business and take over and run it. I worked in the family business since I was in school. I would come from school and do my homework, go to the shop and the garage…

I left the comfort and the cocoon of the family business. Papa and Mama were very strict. I guess they were trying to protect us from being complacent,” says Chichi.

Maponya Mall has caught the attention of investors abroad.

“This last week I entertained a Venda chief. They say to me please, come and build a Maponya Mall in Venda. The same plea came from South Sudan, Ghana and Nigeria,”

says Maponya.

Beside family business, Chichi is leveraging her name with Brand South Africa on the continent. In 2012, she was appointed chairperson of Brand South Africa after she served as a trustee since 2009. The tenure will run until March. In 2008, she was voted ‘woman of the year’ by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa.

“In 2009, when we were appointed, Brand South Africa didn’t have a domestic mandate. So the domestic mandate was established that year. We changed the name from International Marketing Council to the current name. One of the attributes of a brand is its people, especially when it’s a national brand,” says Chichi.

They have a huge mandate, therefore, it calls for collaborations with other government departments and private sector to get the work done, she says.

Chichi is concerned that the attacks on foreign nationals in the country can taint relations with other nationalities. But she says these are isolated incidents that could be challenged by creating employment for the youth.

“In adversity, we rise stronger and more united. This has unified us as African people. It has brought us so close together. When you look at migration across the continent, people are looking for better opportunities and prospects… We don’t have Africa that’s in crisis. We don’t have Africa that is in war. Gone are those days. Africa is moving forward,” says Chichi.

Father and the fire – no one can ever put them out.

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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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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