Born to do business

Madoda Milazi

Madoda Milazi

Spanish artist and painter Pablo Picasso once said he'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money.

But anyone with serious money will attest to the fact that it's near impossible to avoid the finer things in life if you have oodles of cash.

Take Patrick Banda for instance, a multimillionaire from Alexandra, near Johannesburg, who has managed to avoid the media limelight since becoming rich in 1998. It took one simple purchase to thrust him into the media glare, a Maserati Quatroporte worth R1,4million.

"I try to avoid media attention, but I really wanted to drive a Maserati. There is no point in making money if you don't enjoy it," he said.

Banda is executive chairman and 50percent owner of utility group of companies Powerhouse Utilities.

He has not always been rich. He was raised by a single hustler father, who sold anything and everything from offal to detergents just to make a buck.

"I also used to sell peanuts, fruit and sweets at school to help him out," said Banda.

His father died when the young Banda was only 13. He says he "lived between relatives" and put himself through school selling peanuts and other goodies.

"I got interested in business while attending Bible school. Our preacher used to tell us that we should learn about business as black people if we wanted to be successful. He said the reason blacks were poor was because they were happy just working for someone else," said Banda.

Since then he attended every business course on offer that he could afford. In 1996 he tried forming a consortium with his friends, but it never worked out. "I learnt that friends and business don't mix," said Banda.

His first break came in 1998 when a consortium he was in won a debt collection tender with Johannesburg City Power. They made between R25million and R30million a year. "I was suddenly earning R100000 a month, which was way above what I got in my previous jobs," said Banda.

"Nothing beats making money for yourself, because you determine what you get. When you work for someone, it does not matter how hard you work, you still get the same pay every month. If you own a business, the harder you work the more money you make," he said.