10 Inspiring Family Businesses in South Africa  – Tharawat Magazine

10 Inspiring Family Businesses in South Africa  - Tharawat Magazine

South Africa’s business landscape is vast, dynamic, and inspiring. The achievements of the country’s family-owned multi-generational enterprises and its emerging ventures underscore an entrepreneurial spirit that runs deep within the nation. 

Family businesses play a vital role in developing South Africa’s economy. Around 60% of the companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were founded or are still run by families, and it’s estimated that family businesses make up as much as 70% of all South African businesses. The country’s oldest family business is fruit producer and exporter Boplaas 1743, whose original farmyard was named a National Monument by South Africa in 1973.  

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Here are 10 Inspiring Family Businesses in South Africa: 

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Family Owners: Vackier 

Process engineer turned interior and furniture designer Mpho Vackier first launched her African culture-inspired brand in 2017. Mpho’s award-winning furniture designs seek to connect people through shared storytelling while also offering beauty and functionality. Her design company, TheUrbanative, applies a unique contemporary take on form and function to furniture and accessories for both home and office. 

Based in Johannesburg, all TheUrbanative products are designed and manufactured in South Africa using materials and processes that strive to be sustainable and eco-friendly. In 2019, Mpho was awarded the “100% Design SA” Designer of the Year award for TheUrbanative’s Nenzima desk. 

Tile Making
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Family Owners: Ravazzotti 

After emigrating to Johannesburg from Italy, Giovanni Ravazzotti saw an opportunity for affordable flooring products in South Africa’s growing urban areas. In 1969, he founded Italtile to import and sell tiles and ceramics. A decade later, the company pivoted to manufacturing ceramic tiles domestically. Italtile was listed on the JSE in 1992 and now operates a network of 214 locations. The group’s retail brands include South African household names, CTM, Top T, and innovative retail lighting chain, U-Light. Giovanni Ravazzotti continues to oversee the business he founded as its non-executive chair. Daughter, Luciana Ravazzotti Langenhoven serves as Italtile’s non-executive deputy chair. 

Retail Store
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Family Owners: Choene 

Launched in the mid-1980s, the Obriani retail chain was one of South Africa’s first black-owned, township-based fashion boutiques. By the early 1990s, the company had grown from a single location in Pretoria to a chain of eight stores across two provinces. Personal financial difficulties forced owner and founder, Aubrey Choene to close the retail company near the decade’s end. 

Driven by a desire to leave a legacy for their children, the Choene family reopened their business in the early 2000s after a nine-year absence. Today, the boutique fashion chain operates four retail locations in the province of Gauteng. Daughter Tshiamo leads the company’s efforts to appeal to the young female market. 

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Blue Label Telecoms  

Family Owners: Levy 

Founded in 2001 by brothers Mark and Brett Levy, Blue Label Telecoms has become one of South Africa’s most successful technology companies, offering innovative products and solutions for mobile commerce. The Johannesburg-based firm is an emerging market leader in secure FinTech products and the electronic distribution of virtual merchandise. A significant pillar of Blue Label’s mission is creating financial inclusion for under-banked customers who desire low-risk transnational services. 

The brothers launched their business after winning a tender from telecommunications supplier Telkom to supply prepaid phones across South Africa. After developing an electronic top-up pin system, the company applied their prepaid platform to new industries and services, including electricity and water vouchers, starter packs, prepaid data, ticketing, and financial services. Mark and Brett Levy serve as Blue Label Telecom’s joint chief executive officers. 

Inside a Mine
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African Rainbow Minerals (ARM)  

Family Owners: Motsepe 

African Rainbow Minerals was founded by entrepreneur Patrice Motsepe as “Future Mining” in 1994. After several years of expansion and growth, in 1997, Motsepe formed ARM Gold and eventually claimed African Rainbow Minerals through the 2003 merger with mining companies Avmin and Harmony Gold. Today, African Rainbow Minerals is one of South Africa’s leading diversified mining and minerals companies with operations in South Africa and Malaysia. The company is listed on the JSE, and Patrice Motsepe continues to oversee and develop his mining interests as African Rainbow’s executive chair. 

Recycled Plastic
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Ramtsilo Manufacturing & Construction  

Family Owners: Tsiloane 

On a mission to solve the plastic waste problem while providing a sustainable housing solution, sisters Kedibone Refilwe Tsiloane and Kekeletso Pulane Tsiloane founded Ramtsilo Manufacturing & Construction in 2013. They began producing the company’s first-of-their-kind plastic bricks in 2016. The sisters grew up in a construction household and were exposed to their father’s general building and civil engineering business from a young age. Today, Ramtsilo Manufacturing & Construction is the first South African eco-friendly plastic brick company and has created a circular green economy in the plastic recycling and building material industry. 

Ramtsilo’s construction projects range from low-cost housing to paved roads using the company’s durable, fire-retardant PlastiBricks. The company’s manufacturing process also creates direct and indirect employment for many in the community. 

plant growing
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Peotona Group Holdings  

Family Owners: Carolus, Orleyn, Lucas-Bull, Mogkatle 

Peotona Group Holdings (PGH) is a majority-black, women-owned investment company launched in 2005. The company’s four women founders, Cheryl Carolus, Thandi Orleyn, Wendy Lucas-Bull, and Dolly Mogkatle, established PGH with the belief that to ensure the sustainability of any business, social responsibility is just as important as fiscal profits. PGH operates with the guiding principle that true long-term commercial success requires that employees and communities also benefit. The company hopes to transform business strategy models throughout South Africa. 

Peotona Group Holdings chooses South African partners for their investment portfolios that share their ethics and social impact values. The company also operates a not-for-profit segment that manages employee and community-based trusts. 

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Deep Medical Therapeutics  

Family Owners: Lioma, Epstein 

Scientific engineer Dineo Lioma co-founded Deep Medical Therapeutics in 2018 to establish pathology labs across Africa that are more accessible and economical. The MedTech firm provides access to more affordable diagnostics and healthcare solutions for Africans while also serving as scalable channels to increase the continent’s pool of health data. Deep Medical Therapeutics provides medical testing options that are 20–60% cheaper than the industry standard. The company also contributes its anonymised health data to Africa’s researchers to support therapeutics discovery. The company aims to be Africa’s largest repository for health data. 

Mugg & Bean
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Famous Brands  

Family Owners: Halamandres 

George Halmandres began building Famous Brands in the early 1960s with the launch of his modest family business, Steers. Today, the JSE-listed company is Africa’s leading branded food services franchisor, with activities spanning three continents, operating 2824 restaurants, nine logistics sights, and ten manufacturing facilities. The group’s portfolio of 17 popular restaurant brands includes Steers, Debonairs Pizza, Fishaways, Mugg & Bean, Wimpy, and Milky Lane. 

Nikolas Halamandaris, nephew of the founder, and George Halmandres’ youngest son, John Halamandaris, represent the family’s interests as non-executive directors. 

pigs eating grass
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Dreamland Piggery & Abbatoir  

Family Owners: Phosa 

Considered one of South Africa’s new “agripreneurs” in the country’s agricultural sector, Anna Phosa began her business with just four pigs in 2004 while also working in the family hardware store. Her company’s big break came four years later with a contract to supply pigs to South African grocer Pick n Pay. Anna expanded Dreamland Piggery & Abbatoir, acquiring a 350-hectare property that houses over 5,000 pigs and employs a staff of 50. Anna’s husband and daughter, who has a degree in animal production, help run the family business that also provides abattoir services and grows its own maise for livestock. 

A two-time winner of the Department of Agriculture’s Female Farmer of the Year, Anna strives to give back to the community by purchasing pigs from emerging pig farmers in the region. 

Source: https://www.tharawat-magazine.com/facts/inspiring-family-businesses-south-africa/