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The Brian Joffe Portrait

Brian Joffe
Artist: Taf [Tafadzwa Mukwashi]
Oil on box canvas
610mm x 762mm

Brian Joffe, founder and chief executive of the JSE-listed Bidvest Group, is the entrepreneurial giant in the 33rd portrait by the artist Taf [Tafadzwa Mukwashi] of Facing a Century. His portrait is a textured, oil on box canvas, stylized grisaille painting in a paynes grey monochrome.

Born in Johannesburg in 1947, Brian Joffe was exposed to the world of entrepreneurship at an early age. He would earn his pocket money by packing birdseed for the small grain and milling business his father ran and by counting tablets in his uncle’s pharmacy. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1971 and his entrepreneurial career began in 1978 when he borrowed capital of R49 000 and bought half of a small pet food manufacturing company. A year later, he borrowed again, acquired full ownership of the business and expanded it. Using mostly discarded machinery on a makeshift production line, Brian Joffe grew the business so that within just six months, it held a 15% share of the South African canned dog food market. He then sold the company and subsequently made his first million at the age of 32.

After spending a brief period in the USA, Brian returned to South Africa and was employed in several senior executive positions before he founded Bid Corporation in 1988. During apartheid, Brian Joffe had faith that a democratic South Africa would ultimately emerge and that this South Africa would become part of the global economy. He saw an opportunity, and took it, and decided to buy when others were selling and disinvesting. From the R8-million in start-up capital from Investec and the first acquisition of Chipkins in 1988, Joffe built today’s successful international services, trading and distribution company that is the Bidvest Group.

Central to Brian Joffe’s global success has been his unique ability to see the value in failing companies. Time and time again, dying businesses that have been acquired by Bidvest have been transformed into industry leaders through an empowered business model driven by autonomous entrepreneurs.

Bidvest’s roots have remained proudly South African as the company has expanded to span four continents. Bidvest believes in ‘empowering people, building relationships and improving lives.’ Bidvest employs over 100 000 people worldwide and with about 90% of these jobs being held in South Africa, Bidvest is one of South Africa’s largest private sector employers.

The impact Brian Joffe has had on business and on communities in South Africa through Bidvest’s support of Shout SA and Rally to Read has not gone unrecognised. He received the Sunday Times’ Top 100 Lifetime Achiever award in 2011, was named South Africa’s Top Manager of the Year in 2002 by the Corporate Research Foundation, is a past recipient of the Jewish Business Achiever of the Year award and was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the 20 most powerful people in African business.

Thank you, Brian Joffe - one of the greatest South African entrepreneurs of the century, innovator, inspired leader and talented photographer – for lending your face to Facing a Century.
[Many thanks to Wendy Olivier!]

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