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Entrepreneur of the Year® competition honours Dr Richard Maponya

The Lifetime Achiever Award is the highest accolade in the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS and it is never up for competition. The deeds and achievements of the person who receives the award speak for themselves.

The Lifetime Achiever Award is conferred on an established entrepreneur who has made great strides in business over many years. In our 30 year history, we have only ever given this award once in 2015 to Ms Margaret Hirsch, co-founder of Hirsch’s.

Our 2018 Lifetime Achiever Awardee is Ntate Dr Richard JP Maponya, Chairman of Maponya Holdings. Dr Maponya is a living legend and his family name is synonymous with entrepreneurship in South Africa. He is an outstanding role model for entrepreneurs across all genders and races and an excellent mentor.

He was awarded the South African National Order, the Grand Counsellor of the Baobab (GCOB), in April 2007 and his contributions to the South African economy cannot be overstated. As the Entrepreneur of the Year® committee, we are honoured that he granted us permission to celebrate him.

Dr Maponya is an epitome of an entrepreneur.

  • Born in Thlabine, a small village near Lenyenye, Tzaneen, in what we now know as Limpopo, Dr Maponya was trained as a teacher which is not surprising that he mentors other entrepreneurs.
  • He became an entrepreneur around the age of 24 in an era when black entrepreneurs faced many obstacles that prevented them from being successful.
  • From clothing to milk delivery service to cars, retail and property development, he persevered and made a success of business.
  • Dr Maponya is a visionary. In 1979 he secured land in Soweto, first on a 100-year lease and then, in 1994, after several attempts, he acquired it outright. This is the land on which Maponya Mall, one of the largest shopping centres in the country, was built and opened in 2007.
  • He was part of South Africa’s power couple and part of his success is attributable to the beautiful partnership with his late wife, Marina Maponya. Together they raised entrepreneurial children, successful in their own right.
  • Dr Maponya is an activist and was the Founder and President of NAFCOC (the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in 1965.
  • Dr Maponya is a community builder and since SA is celebrating 100 years of Nelson Mandela, it is worth noting that Dr Maponya is Founder and Trustee of Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He is also the man who drove President Mandela on the day he was released from jail and he also provided the fleet of vehicles used on that special day.
  • Dr Maponya has built a formidable business empire in the democratic South Africa, which should remain for generations to come.


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