Trailblazing black economic empowerment pioneer, Leetile Benjamin Mophatlane, has died. Mophatlane, with his twin brother Isaac, co-founded in 1996 what was then known as Business Connection – later renamed Business Connexion, and which subsequently merged with Seattle Solutions in 2001.
“We were savvy enough to take advantage of the opportunities that came to us as a result of political change in the country, and to leverage the innovative new technology that was coming to the fore. It was a perfect combination of circumstances. But we were also smart enough to deliver,” Mophatlane told Entrepreneur magazine at the time.
Benjamin served as managing director until the company merged with Comparex Africa in 2004 and was renamed Business Connexion, with the ‘X’. He served as deputy chief executiveofficer until 2007 when he became CEO. From his vision back in 1996, Business Connexion is now a company of just over 6 700 people across Africa, the UK and Dubai.
Benjamin was the twin son of the late Ramaloka Isaac Mophatlane and Mmasefudi Dorothy Mophatlane. Benjamin and Isaac were born in Pretoria at the Holy Cross Hospital on 12 May 1973. The year Benjamin and Isaac were born the extended family was blessed with six pairs of twins. He started his schooling in 1979 at Ikangeng Primary School in Ga- Rankuwa and attended high school at Tsogo High School in Mmakau Village.
In 1986 Benjamin and Isaac attended Christian Brothers College in Kimberley, and Benjamin went on to study accounting at the University of Pretoria. He won an SAB scholarship to train as an accountant and he was six months into his articles with KPMG when the Connection Group, who had taken a shine to the twins, gave them seed capital to start an offshoot, selling technology to businesses and government, and Ben said “I’m out of here”. And so began his entrepreneurial journey.
Mophatlane was well known within the information and communication technology industry and has received numerous accolades. He was a member of the Black Management Forum, the Electronic Industries Federation of South Africa, the Black Information Technology Forum, the Global Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Board and the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency.
In 1999 he was honoured with the Black Information Technology Forum Black Achievers Award; in 2000 he was voted one of the Junior Chamber of South Africa’s Four Outstanding Young South Africans; in 2002 he received the IT Personality of the year by the Computer Society of South Africa; in 2004 he received the TuksAlumni Laureate Award; in 2009 he received the ICT Legend Award by State Information Technology Agency (SITA); he was awarded the Top Black Businessman Award at the 9th Annual Metropolitan Oliver Empowerment in 2010 and just recently, Ben was nominated for the Titans Building Nations Awards.
In a statement, Business Connexion said Mophatlane was “an inspirational leader, son and brother. Benjamin will be remembered for his undeniable entrepreneurial spirit, enthusiasm, and exceptionally warm personality. His deep humanity shone through in the way he interacted with people, be it colleagues, staff, business associates, family and friends. And no one will refute that Ben was at his happiest when he was with his family and his faith. He has left behind him a legacy that will make his children proud. He has made the impossible, possible and he will live on in the memory of everyone who knew him”.
Mophatlane is survived by his wife Abenasaah, his three children Leruo, Karabo and Botshelo, his mother Mmasefudi Dorothy, sister Motshabi and twin brother Isaac. In addition he leaves behind his mother in law Nthobi Angel and his sister in law Mpumi Mophatlane.
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