FOUNDER | CEO - NANDO'S
Rob – or Robbie, as almost everyone calls him – is a founder of Nando’s and ran the company for almost 25 years.
In 1987, along with his friend Fernando Duarte, he bought Chickenland, an out-of-the-way Portuguese restaurant in Rosettenville. It served everything from fried fish to boiled eggs, but the chicken, Robbie thought, was the best he’d ever tasted. Nando’s was born – and, along with it, one of life’s great adventures. As CEO of Nando’s until 2010, Robbie used sheer creativity (and PERi-PERi) to take Nando’s from Rosettenville to the world. Today, Nando’s is loved in America, Australia and more than 20 countries in between.
Chicken is very important, Robbie will tell you, but it’s not the most important thing in life. That’s why much of his time is now spent on projects like Goodbye Malaria, which Robbie started with a few of his Nando’s colleagues (‘Nandocas’, if you’re in the know). Goodbye Malaria is an organisation with an entirely achievable goal: to eradicate malaria in Africa within our lifetimes.
Back in Johannesburg, Robbie works with Harambe, which targets unemployment to improve the lives of some of the city’s poorest citizens. And he is involved in the Nando’s Art Initiative, which showcases the work of talented but disadvantaged Southern African artists in Nando’s restaurants all over the world.
But Nando’s is never far from Robbie’s heart. Today he applies his considerable energy to keep shaping the culture of Nando’s, much of which comes from Robbie’s conviction that life should be lived in a youthful, eternally optimistic way – and that it is actually possible to change the world, one chicken at a time.