Ramaphosa challenges business people to fulfil Maponya's dream of an entrepreneurship academy
President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged business people to join hands in fulfilling the lifelong dream of businessperson Richard Maponya and open a “youth entrepreneur academy”.
In a statement by the presidency after news broke of the business mogul's death, Ramaphosa described the 99-year-old as “a pioneer, a trailblazer and a man of extraordinary fortitude, who paved the way for the racial transformation of the South African economy”.
“He has left behind a towering legacy and I call on businessmen and businesswomen to take up the baton and see fulfilled his long-nurtured dream to open a youth entrepreneurship academy.”
A family spokesperson confirmed that Maponya died on Monday after a short illness. He turned 99 on December 24.
In 2014, Maponya partnered the University of Johannesburg's (UJ's) Centre for Entrepreneurship in an effort to help entrepreneurs. This resulted in a series of annual think-tanks, the Dr Richard Maponya lecture and the annual Dr Richard Maponya Soweto conference.
UJ said on Monday it was saddened by Maponya's death.
“He was a lifelong servant of a democratic South Africa; his contribution to South African development of several business enterprises has been highly significant,” the university said in a statement.
“His selfless dedication to revitalising township entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship has resulted in many thriving youth start-ups in and around Soweto, and across greater Johannesburg. Through the partnership with UJ, Dr Maponya aimed to invest back in the Soweto business community and reignite the entrepreneurial fire in the upcoming generation.”
Ramaphosa said in spite of Maponya having started his career as a stock-taker, he penetrated the entrepreneurship space and became a force to be reckoned with.
“Dr Maponya’s life is a testament to resilience, determination and the power of vision: namely to see black business grow to assume its full role as the key participant and driver of our economy,” said the president.
The late businessperson and his wife, Marina, took advantage of a business opportunity when they opened a milk distribution company in Soweto. Together they expanded their business empire to include interests in retail, automotive, filling stations and property development.
The Maponya family now owns one of the biggest shopping malls in Soweto, Maponya Mall.
Gauteng premier David Makhura expressed his condolences to the bereaved family.
“He was indeed a walking monument of the township economy.
“He was the epitome of black business excellence and resilience, as well as a great inspiration to a generation of young black entrepreneurs. May his legacy live forever.”