2014 Speakers

Brian Joffe

Founder & CEO Bidvest Group

Founder and CEO of the Bidvest Group, Brian Joffe is recognised as a South African entrepreneurial legend. He graduated as a chartered accountant from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 1971, and completed his articles at Levitt Kirson Gross.

Joffe’s inspiring entrepreneurial career began in 1978, when he borrowed capital to buy an interest in a small pet food manufacturing business. One year later, he acquired full ownership of the company and focused his efforts on expansion. Two years later, he sold his company to a major industrial group and became a millionaire at the age of 32. 

After spending some time in the United States, Joffe returned to South Africa and held several senior executive positions before launching the Bidvest Group in 1988. Committed to South Africa’s growth and development, he established a uniquely-empowered business model driven by autonomous entrepreneurs, each responsible for growing their own operations. Today, the company is globally recognised as an international services, trading and distribution giant, operating across five continents and employing more than 137 000 people.

In 2013, Bidvest was celebrated as one of the World’s 40 Best Companies – a list compiled by BusinessWeek in the United States. The Group is one of five South African-based companies on the Boston Consulting Group’s Global Challenger List, and is a constituent of the JSE Social Responsibility Investment Index.

Bidvest is also committed to making sustained contributions to various communities and causes. One the Group’s many high-profile local community efforts is the Rally to Read initiative. Every year the rally delivers books and teaching aids to under-resourced rural schools in South Africa. In 2013, the programme reached 1 358 teachers and engaged with 40 581 pupils over 10 rallies.

Joffe has received numerous accolades in recognition of his contribution to business, society and leadership. In 2007, he was voted by the Sunday Times as Businessman of the Year. A year later, he received an honorary doctorate in Commerce from the University of South Africa (Unisa). In 2010, Wits Business School Journal named him one of South Africa’s top 25 business leaders in recognition of his significant impact on business in South Africa over the preceding five years. Joffe also received the Sunday Times Lifetime Achiever Award in 2011, and one year later he was named by Forbes as one of the 20 most influential people in Africa.

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