Port Elizabeth – The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) today conferred the degree of Doctor of Commerce (honoris causa) on Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Co-Founder and Chief Executive. Chancellor of the NMMU, Santie Botha said, ‘’It is an honour for NMMU to confer this honorary degree on Stephen Saad. His vision and drive in the world of business is inspiring and as NMMU we acknowledge the turn-around he orchestrated in a Port Elizabeth-based company that provides jobs to people in an economically struggling province’’.
In his address Stephen Saad said, “I am deeply honoured to receive this recognition from the NMMU. What has made the award even more personally meaningful, is that it has been bestowed on me in the same city that Aspen has chosen as the centre of our global operations. Port Elizabeth is the centre of our universe.”
“However, in accepting this honour, I do so on behalf of the entire Aspen team, without whom no award would have been possible. I thank the NMMU for recognising our enterprise, drive and courage, but most importantly, our commitment that we in South Africa need not aspire to mediocrity. We have the capability to be a global player in whichever field we choose. It just requires a vision that recognises the realities and which is then executed with both discipline and focus.”
Mr Saad paid special tribute to his wife and four daughters, acknowledging them for partnering him and for having driven balance in his life. He also extended his gratitude to his mother and late father, who instilled a competitive but compassionate value system in their family environment.
Stephen, who was inducted into the international Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame in 2005 and who was recognized as the 2012 Sunday Times Business Man of the Year, said that if he could share one piece of advice it is this: “Try to do something you enjoy, that you can do with pride and which rewards you beyond financial considerations. From a start-up operation with no revenue, Aspen now has a market capitalisation in excess of R120 billion and will have over 70% of its sales from abroad.”
“Aspen’s Port Elizabeth-based manufacturing site is the largest operation of its kind in the Southern hemisphere. It is the backbone and the engine room not only of our global operations, but it is also the source for most of the one in four medicines that Aspen provides to both the South African Public and Private sectors. It provides for the health of the nation, meeting the highest global quality standards but doing so affordably. In Port Elizabeth, the United States Food and Drug Administration tentatively approved the first generic anti-retroviral (ARV), which was developed by Aspen, and from these beginnings Aspen has been at the forefront of trying to combat this pandemic on the African continent”, said Saad.