Imbizo Shisanyama is proud to announce its venue at the Mall of Thembisa, opened during hard lockdown in November 2020, has won the Restaurant Design category in the SA Council of Shopping Centre’s Retail Design & Development Awards.

These awards annually recognise exceptional shopping centre design as decided by industry leaders in the design and development of retail centres. In the same awards, the Mall of Thembisa won the 2021/2022 International Best Retail Design in the New Developments category on the continent.

Founder of BUSY CORNER Imbizo Shisanyama and author of Conquering the Poverty of the Mind, Rita Zwane, more affectionately known as MaZwane, says seeing Africa’s Ultimate Braai Experience in a mall setting is a dream come true. “But to receive an award through MDS Architecture is the cherry on top. All of this happening while dealing with the devastating effect of the pandemic is like a rainbow of hope.”

Moving into the Mall of Thembisa was ground-breaking in many ways. The Imbizo Shisanyama there – the group’s fourth venue – shows how this township-grown dream is finally recognised in the global food and beverage sector. “This outlet delivers an authentic African experience that celebrates our culture and heritage while still keeping close to our roots in cultivating a local value chain – Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu,” adds MaZwane.

The design celebrates the authentic African culture and heritage of the open ‘braai’ and creates a stunning experience where customers can watch whilst their special cuts of quality meat are being braaied over a traditional coal fire. The interior spaces are arranged over three floors with the rooftop and glass elevator providing a premium experience for the restaurant’s well-known legends and Afropolitans.

The entire concept is an authentic celebration of the great African lifestyle and identity and the design at the mall embodies the brand’s promise to patrons which offers the Ultimate Expression of the Experience. The open fires of the braais and their stainless-steel roof canopy deliver an innovative and experiential focus for the customer and to this remarkable restaurant which, whilst located in a township, would not be out of place in any city of the world, hence many call it New York in Thembisa.

Developer Jason McCormick, MD of McCormick Property Development (MPD), says that while the township economy may not have reached its full potential, innovative entrepreneurs like MaZwane have become the backbone of this economy and can provide other aspiring entrepreneurs with valuable lessons.

This recognition of a homegrown township dream that began on a dusty street corner in Ivory Park, Gauteng, underscores MaZwane’s belief that while South Africa is still in the storm economically, a positive mindset will help us through it.

“Covid has shown us flames and I feel that it is now more critical than ever to teach survival skills. I am doing this under the MaZwane Foundation, a registered NPO, in partnership with Youth Leadership Entrepreneurship and Development (YLED), and the private sector to build a world-class Entrepreneurship Skills Development Centre in the heart of the township, as we need more innovative and business-minded young people,” she explains.

Steven Zwane, founder and chairperson of the Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development NPO and faculty lecturer at University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) business school, believes we can learn a lot from MaZwane, and others like her. “And hopefully, we can inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs who will take the baton from them and build corporations whose roots can be traced back to townships,” he says.

Her advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs in this climate is to remember that entrepreneurship is a journey. “A vision gives you purpose. Have a vision that will live long after you are gone; a vision that when you think of giving up will remind you why you started, that will help you to weather any kind of storm because it will keep your mind focused on your North Star,” MaZwane concludes.

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