Robert Brozin
South Africa
Robert Brozin
  • Co-Founder, Nando's (Restaurants; Fast Food Franchises)
Born Middelburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa, 1959. B.Com, Witwatersrand University (1984).
“As an entrepreneur, your attitude actually can be the difference between success and failure.”

Summary

Robert Brozin is Co-Founder of Nando’s, a South African restaurant chain specializing in Portuguese food, especially peri-peri style chicken, which now operates over 1,000 restaurants in 35 countries. After graduating from Witwatersrand University in 1984, Brozin joined his father’s business, Teltron, which was an agent for Sanyo Electronics, but he left three years later in order to pursue an entrepreneurial career. In this interview, Brozin describes befriending Mozambique-born Fernando Duarte at Teltron, who would become his business partner and Nando’s co-founder. Together they purchased a 67% stake in a Portuguese take out restaurant business called Chickenland, which was where they frequently had lunch. In 1990, they bought Chickenland entirely, rebranded it as Nando’s, and brought in other partners including the Enthoven family who acquired a 30% stake. Brozin describes his experience learning about the restaurant business, building a brand, and creating a corporate culture. For Brozin, this meant giving his brand a personality. He sought to make the business “much more than about chicken,” but also about “about pride, passion, courage, integrity, family.” He introduced humor and intellectual controversy to his marketing and advertising strategies, emphasized the importance of diversity, and showcased South African art in the restaurants. Brozin describes the challenges he faced running a business during the apartheid era, which included issues such as getting employees to arrive at work, working around boycotts, and issues getting chicken delivered. Brozin explains that they were able to quickly expand Nando’s internationally by understanding that the product was a demand in the global market, especially initially from South Africans who had immigrated. Brozin discusses taking Nando’s public on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1997, delisting in 2003, and how the difficulties faced during this time led to the adoption of a franchise model. By 2009 Brozin had lost his interest in active management of the business, and the decision was made to recruit professional management. Brozin stepped away from Nando’s in 2010 and became involved in social impact projects. In 2009, Brozin joined the United Against Malaria campaign. After the campaign left Africa after the World Cup, Brozin started his own campaign: Goodbye Malaria. Primarily working in Mozambique, Goodbye Malaria uses Indoor Residual Spraying to combat Malaria and operated mobile testing clinics. Another project that Brozin started was the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, which was supported by Nando’s. This program looks to help lower South Africa’s high youth unemployment rate through training, gauging work-readiness, increasing retention rates, and a pathways platform. The program has begun to expand into other countries such as Rwanda, and in 2019, it won the Skoll Award for social impact.

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Robert Brozin is Co-Founder of Nando’s, a South African restaurant chain specializing in Portuguese food, especially peri-peri style chicken, which now operates over 1,000 restaurants in 35 countries. After graduating from Witwatersrand University in 1984, Brozin joined his father’s business, Teltron, which was an agent for Sanyo Electronics, but he left three years later in order to pursue an entrepreneurial career. In this interview, Brozin describes befriending Mozambique-born Fernando Duarte at Teltron, who would become his business partner and Nando’s co-founder. Together they purchased a 67% stake in a Portuguese take out restaurant business called Chickenland, which was where they frequently had lunch. In 1990, they bought Chickenland entirely, rebranded it as Nando’s, and brought in other partners including the Enthoven family who acquired a 30% stake. Brozin describes his experience learning about the restaurant business, building a brand, and creating a corporate culture. For Brozin, this meant giving his brand a personality. He sought to make the business “much more than about chicken,” but also about “about pride, passion, courage, integrity, family.” He introduced humor and intellectual controversy to his marketing and advertising strategies, emphasized the importance of diversity, and showcased South African art in the restaurants. Brozin describes the challenges he faced running a business during the apartheid era, which included issues such as getting employees to arrive at work, working around boycotts, and issues getting chicken delivered. Brozin explains that they were able to quickly expand Nando’s internationally by understanding that the product was a demand in the global market, especially initially from South Africans who had immigrated. Brozin discusses taking Nando’s public on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1997, delisting in 2003, and how the difficulties faced during this time led to the adoption of a franchise model. By 2009 Brozin had lost his interest in active management of the business, and the decision was made to recruit professional management. Brozin stepped away from Nando’s in 2010 and became involved in social impact projects. In 2009, Brozin joined the United Against Malaria campaign. After the campaign left Africa after the World Cup, Brozin started his own campaign: Goodbye Malaria. Primarily working in Mozambique, Goodbye Malaria uses Indoor Residual Spraying to combat Malaria and operated mobile testing clinics. Another project that Brozin started was the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, which was supported by Nando’s. This program looks to help lower South Africa’s high youth unemployment rate through training, gauging work-readiness, increasing retention rates, and a pathways platform. The program has begun to expand into other countries such as Rwanda, and in 2019, it won the Skoll Award for social impact.
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Video Clips by Topic

Start-up

Robert Brozin, the co-Founder of Nando’s, a South African-based restaurant chain specializing in Portuguese food, discusses how he started the business with Fernando Duarte, after tiring of being an auditor and while working in his father’s electronics business. 



Responding to Crises

Robert Brozin, the co-Founder of Nando’s, a South African-based restaurant chain specializing in Portuguese food, discusses the challenges of starting his business during the apartheid regime before 1994, and how his brand sought to make consumers laugh in the face of turbulence.



Social Impact

Robert Brozin, the co-Founder of Nando’s, a South African-based restaurant chain specializing in Portuguese food, discusses how after building his business he sought a greater purpose, and found this purpose in campaigning against malaria in Mozambique.



Corporate Culture

Robert Brozin, the co-Founder of Nando’s, a South African-based restaurant chain specializing in Portuguese food, describes the distinctive corporate culture based on diversity, respect and fun.



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Additional Resources

Interview Citation Format

Interview with Robert Brozin, interviewed by Nien-hê Hsieh, Johannesburg, South Africa, Septmber 23, 2019, Creating Emerging Markets Oral History Collection, Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School.