South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday paid tribute to the country’s fallen Businessman Richard Maponya, saying his government would set up an entrepreneurship academy in his honour.
According to Ramaphosa, the tycoon had requested the government to set up an academy for up-and-coming business people in the country.
“It is a wish I will endeavour to see fulfilled on his behalf,” the president said.
Delivering his eulogy at Maponya’s funeral held at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus, Ramaphosa described the fallen hero as a patriot who was dedicated to his people’s economic development.
“He was one of our most dedicated country’s patriots. He was a soldier, not on the battlefield, but on the frontline of the emancipation of economic freedom," Ramaphosa said.
He added: “He inspired a whole new generation of business people. He took them under his wing and they became people who stood on his shoulders.”
A lesson South Africans could learn from the late Maponya’s life was that a humble beginning was not a barrier to his success, the president said.
“He has forever changed the face of business in South Africa. His contributions will forever be remembered and cherished,” Ramaphosa, a multi-millionaire businessman himself, said.
Maponya, aged 99, died after a short illness last week. He leaves behind a huge business empire, including the first mall to be built by an African in the country, located in Soweto.