Updated: Jun 27, 2022
Max Mqadi is the wellknown businessman behind Max's Lifestyle Village, and he is considered one of Umlazi's 'own'.
Max's Lifestyle Village is known to locals as 'KwaMax'. The highly successful butchery, shisha nyama (braai area where customers can cook the meat they have purchased), VIP lounge, and function and conference centre have grown substantially from their origins as a one room shack butchery.
KwaMax is now frequented by local residents, celebrities, sportspersons and politicians as well as international tourists. The venue is a popular choice for year-end functions, weddings, baby showers and product launches. Diners enjoy the restaurant's traditional meals featuring braai meat with traditional side dishes such as umgxabhiso (tripe), amadombolo (dumplings)and ujeqe (steam bread). Many of the customers enjoy being entertained by the music of top DJs or relaxing in the VIP section.
Max's attributes his success to three principles - compromise, sacrifice and discipline. He grew up in impoverished conditions in Umlazi township and had to learn to fend for himself from an early age. Max's entrepreneurial spirit resulted in him leaving school in Grade 10. Says Max, "It was not that school did not like me but that I was not suited to the school environment." He explained that entrepreneurs are often lost in the system and that they need to build their own systems to achieve success. He added that entrepreneurs are needed in the South African economy because they understand the local business environment. Of his journey to success he says, "Life belongs to you, you can change your own life, but you have to have a vision to achieve. You have to have passion and you have to be forthright in driving the vision."
Max vision for his future success resulted in him 'hustling' to make a living by selling aprons on trains and running a tuckshop. These experiences taught him the business skills that he still uses today. Max's early success saw him establishing a small butchery in 1988 which soon grew to the establishment of seven butcheries around the Durban region. After identifying the potential in the Umlazi site he developed the butchery to include a braai area. Max says that he discovered his passion for the hospitality industry, and he became successful because he understands the needs of the market that he serves.
Despite some challenges, Max's Lifestyle Village has grown and has undergone ongoing development as well as increased its service offerings over the years of its existence. In 2019, Max's Lifestyle underwent a major refurbishment and was launched as Max's Lifestyle Village, which now comprises a butchery, restaurant, VIP lounge, conference venue, and car wash.
At the launch in November 2019, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said, "We are thrilled to be here to witness the next chapter in the growth story of Max's Lifestyle, an establishment that has, for many years now, come to stand as a bastion of entertainment and leisure in our province and the country." Premier Zikalala added that Max is known, "For paying attention to detail and for understanding what it takes to stay ahead and to cater for the individual needs of his discerning patrons." Certainly, the residents of Umlazi are very proud of Max's achievements and support the establishment, which also brings additional economic benefits to the township in terms of employment opportunities. Says Max, "I wanted to change the face of the township and I feel like saying I did it! Here blacks are benefitting.
An entrepreneur is running a successful establishment, which has participated in changing the perceptions of Umlazi. In this regard Max has been a pioneer and made it easy to market Umlazi as it has been put on the map. The township has also had to deal with misconceptions and fears in order to move forward as a tourist destination. Max's Lifestyle Village keeps dispelling such attitudes as having centres of excellence ensures that this job is easier. Said Max, "Max's Lifestyle is a disciplined space. I like to be an entrepreneur, but I also comply with all government requirements and legislation. I have a licence to operate.
The restaurant is a safe place to let loose and enjoy the township vibe. Part of developing townships is to fight crime, to ensure cleanliness and to provide proper services in order to promote the respect of people." Max encourages families to visit the restaurant to enjoy a meal in the restaurant. The general view is that more local tourists need to be encouraged to visit Max's Lifestyle. "Max's provide a platform to welcome all people to promote cultural exchanges and celebrate diversity, which brings our rainbow nation together."