Innovator . Business

Based: Johannesburg

Robbie Brozin was born in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, in 1959. The family moved to Johannesburg and he attended high school at King David Linksfield, after which he obtained a BCom from Wits University and then worked for his father selling electronics.

In 1987, along with his friend Fernando Duarte, Brozin bought Chickenland, an out-of-the-way Portuguese restaurant in Rosettenville. It served everything from fried fish to boiled eggs but the chicken, Robbie said, was the best he’d ever tasted. And, so, Nando’s was born and, along with it, one of life’s great adventures. As chief executive of Nando’s until 2010, he used sheer creativity (and Portuguese-style peri-peri sauce) to take a little restaurant from Rosettenville to the world. Today, Nando’s is loved in America, Australia, the United Kingdom and 20 other countries as diverse as Fiji and Bangladesh. The 1 000-plus outlets are a mix of franchise and directly owned stores.

Besides his work on philanthropic projects such as Goodbye Malaria, which aims to eradicate malaria in Africa in our lifetimes, Nando’s is still very much a part of Brozin’s focus. He applies his considerable energy to shaping the culture of Nando’s, strengthening its brand, its soul and its reputation as a place for kind, fearless people who don’t take life too seriously. “It’s the people who make the chicken,” Robbie always says. That’s why so much of Nando’s culture comes from his conviction that life should be lived in a youthful, eternally optimistic way – and that it is actually possible to “change people’s lives, one chicken at a time”.