The grandfather of South African black business Dr Richard Maponya, who died in the early hours of yesterday morning, has left big shoes to be filled, according to local entrepreneurs who were following in his footsteps.
Maponya, who was a pioneering entrepreneur and rose above the restrictive laws under apartheid to become a household name, will be best remembered for building the Maponya Mall in Soweto that opened in 2007.
“He set the tone and laid the foundation for the next generation of black entrepreneurs so those are very big shoes to fill,” said Chris Joko from Sakhumzi Restaurant, which is one of Soweto’s most popular eating spots.
Joko said he remembered Maponya to be a patient man who was always willing to assist young people and his broader community so he will be remembered fondly by people of Soweto.
“Young entrepreneurs need to understand that a business requires a lot of patience. Dr Maponya was one of those men who was very patient. I will always remember him for his patience and resilience,” said Joko during an interview with The Citizen.
One of the people who paid tribute to Maponya was Monalisa Sam, who was hired by Maponya to be the first centre manager of Maponya Mall at the age of 26.
“He shared the greatest stories and….. oh his hearty laugh, I could sit for hours listening to him, taking it all in, learning, asking and being inspired by him.
“He was authentically generous with the idea of passing on success and blessing and that in essence was what is his retail story and will forever be his legacy,” said Sam.
The Economic Freedom Fighters said in order to honour Maponya’s legacy properly, the government must establish a state-owned bank that will prioritise investment in young African entrepreneurs.
“To truly honour Maponya is to believe that African people can be enterprising, innovative and creative, that there are many like him in our country and continent but lack the financial investment and support for their businesses.”
“This is truly the key solution to dealing with the massive African unemployment, a bank that believes in them,” said Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, the national spokesperson.
President Cyril Ramaphosa also expressed his condolences to the family of the business pioneer.
Ramaphosa said Maponya’s success was the combination of natural business acumen and sheer hard work, which encouraged countless black businessmen and businesswomen to take up opportunities even in the face of difficulties.
“We have lost a pioneer, a trailblazer and a man of extraordinary fortitude who paved the way for the racial transformation of the South African economy,” said Ramaphosa.
He said Maponya’s life was a testament to resilience, determination and the power of vision to see black business grow and become a driver of our economy.
Family spokesperson Mandla Sibeko said Maponya died after a short illness and funeral arrangements would be announced in due course.