If SA’s broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) firms are to survive for five decades to a century, perhaps their bosses could pick up a lesson or two from the business histories of “SA native merchants”, such as the 19th-century wealthy hotelier and retailer, Paul Xiniwe, in the Eastern Cape.

There are global examples of social behaviour that include the flamboyant man known universally as “Mr Selfridge” who rose from rags to riches and then fell from riches to almost rags...

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