How A Former South African Rugby Player Made Over A Billion Dollars In Pharmaceutical

Biography & Success Story Of Stephen Saad: Founder Of Aspen Pharma
Biography & Success Story Of Stephen Saad: Founder Of Aspen Pharma

Versatility & diversity is a key component of survival in life and in the ever-competitive business world. With versatility, it’s an attribute that all who find tremendous success possess, and one that while thought to be innate, can be honed, groomed, and developed over a long period of time. And for diversity, you need to be dogged, determined, and be bold enough to cover new areas, skills, locations, and chart courses that very few have ever been able to scale through.

One person who is a great example of these attributes is South African billionaire businessman, Stephen Saad, an individual who in the course of his journey to greatness has been able to conquer more grounds than a lot of his competitors in the pharmaceutical world, and in the process, built a multibillion-dollar business with Aspen Pharmacare; the largest manufacturer of generic medicine on the African continent.

See Also: How A South African Geologist Built A Mining Business Worth Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars

Here’s how he did it:


Early Life & Education Of Stephen Saad

Stephen Bradley Saad was born on the 23rd of June 1964 in Durban South Africa. After completing his secondary education at Durban high school, he went on to study at the University of Natal where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, before further becoming a Chartered Accountant

Before venturing into pharmaceuticals Stephen played Rugby briefly in Ireland in his early years. Due to his outstanding entrepreneurial and leadership credentials, Stephen was honoured with the prestigious Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Award for South Africa in 2004. Later in November 2012, he was honoured by Sunday Times as the business leader of the year.


Journey Into Entrepreneurship

Stephen Saad started out his career at a South African prescription drug distribution company called Quickmed, during the apartheid era. The company was operational in black townships across the nation, and while Stephen spent his time there, he gained valuable knowledge in the pharmaceutical industry; an experience that would later prove instrumental in the establishment of his company.

See Also: How A Lawyer Built One Of South Africa’s Largest Banks


Foray Into Entrepreneurship & Start Of Aspen Pharmacare

After QuickMed, Stephen Saad went on to co-found a company called Covan Zurich and after a while at the age of 29, in 1993, sold his shares in the company for $3 million and became a millionaire for the first time.

Four years later in the year 1997, Stephen Saad, in collaboration with a business partner, Michael Gus Attridge, established Aspen Pharmacare, a Limited Liability company that would eventually grow to trade under the Johannesburg stock exchange through the reverse listing of Medhold Limited.


His Rise To CEO Position & Other Wins

In 1999 Stephen Saad assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer at Aspen Group, a position which granted him the privilege of overseeing the company’s strategy and global affairs, while the deputy CEO’s position was occupied by his partner Gus Attridge.

During his time as CEO, the company grew to become the largest producer of generic medicines in Africa.

After tasting relative success in the pharmaceutical world, Stephen Saad went on to become the chairman of South Africa’s Rugby team based in Durban, the Sharks, in 2012. He is also a member of the board of trustees of Durban high school, which he attended as a boy.

See Also: How The Son Of a Former Governor Built A Billion Dollar Business


Aspen Pharmacare Today

As a multinational pharmaceutical group based in South Africa, Aspen Pharmacare is today the largest pharmaceutical company on the African continent. The firm produces most types of drugs and has grown to become a pharmaceutical powerhouse with operations in 6 continents around the world.

Aspen is the largest producer of generic medicines on the African continent and the 9th largest producer of generic medicine in the world. The company’s major pharmaceutical products are injectables, liquid, tablets, capsules, sterils, active ingredients, biologicals, nutritional products, pharmaceuticals and much more.

Aspen has over the years formed an alliance and integrated its business activities with other international pharmaceutical and distribution companies, a move which has led to a rapid increase in its distribution capacity.

The company currently has over 10,000 employees asides agents across the world. 


Aspen Pharmacare Subsidiaries

  • Aspen Pharma Industria Farmaceutica Ltda
  • Aspen Asia Pacific Pty Ltd
  • Brimpharm SA (Pty) Ltd
  • Aspen Asia Company Limited
  • Aspen USA, Inc
  • Aspen Pharmacare Ireland Limited
  • Aspen Europe GmbH
  • Shelys Pharmaceuticals Limited
  • Aspen Philippines Incorporated
  • Aspen Global Incorporated
  • New Zealand New Milk Ltd
  • Triomed (Pty) Ltd
  • Aspen Healthcare Taiwan Limited
  • Aspen Australia Pty. Ltd
  • Beta Healthcare Uganda Limited
  • Aspen Healthcare FZ LLC
  • Aspen Argentina S.A.
  • Shelys Africa Ltd
  • Aspen Nutritionals Pty Ltd
  • Aspen Pharma Mexicana S. de R.L. de C.V.
  • Wyeth, S de E.L. de C.V
  • Aspen Netherlands B.V.
  • Shelys Pharmaceuticals International Limited
  • KAMA Industries Limited
  • Aspen Notre Dame de Bondeville SAS
  • Aspen Pharmacare Australia Ltd
  • Formula Naturelle (Pty) Ltd
  • Aspen Labs S.A. de C.V.
  • Aspen API Incorporated
  • Aspen Nutritionals Australia (Pty) Ltd
  • Fine Chemicals Corporation (Pty) Ltd
  • Aspen Pharmacare Resources Ltd
  • Aspen Finance (Pty) Limited
  • Beta Healthcare International Ltd
  • Pharmacare Limited
  • MSD NL 8 B.V
  • Aspen Nutritionals Hong Kong Limited
  • Aspen Pharmacare Nigeria Ltd
  • Aspen Polska Spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzial
  • Pharmalatina Holdings Limited
  • Aspen Italia srl
  • Aspen Medical Products Malaysia Sdn Bhd

See Also: How This Nigerian Entrepreneur Built A Business Worth Over $5 Million Dollars


Impact On Society

In April 2012 Stephen Saad took up an initiative to raise funds for children healthcare, a trust fund that would be responsible for building and maintaining pediatric healthcare facilities across South Africa.

In an attempt to garner sponsorship and donations for The Sifiso Nxasana Pediatric trust for the children of Africa, Stephen Saad took part in a 240 km mountain Transkaroo mountain bike challenge from Ceres to Sutherland; a challenge which has successfully raised over  R10 million in funds which would be used for the enhancement of children hospitals.

Part of Stephen’s intention for the establishment of the trust fund is also to show the support of local and international businesses towards taking care of children who have been denied access to professional and specialist medical services in the past.

According to Stephen, his desire to set up the trust fund was born out of a zeal to see all children that are rich or poor have access to professional and sound healthcare.

See Also: How A South African Farm Boy Built A Famous Multi-Billion Dollar Conglomerate With Operations In Nigeria, South Africa & Many Other Countries



Tenacity of purpose is supreme, and if what you do adds meaning and value to your life, and can be done in an industry with a high economic value, you too could someday grow a million-dollar or billion-dollar business.


What are your thoughts on this success story of Stephen Saad? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Stan Edom
Stan Edom
I'm an entrepreneur with expertise in supply chain management, international trade, small business development, e-commerce, internet startups, renewable energy, and agriculture. I'm also a network engineer, I.T security expert, and computer programmer. In my spare time when I'm not working out at the gym, I try to solve problems people face in their everyday lives with whatever means necessary.

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