Antonio Iozzo, CEO of Insurance Underwriting Managers, has become a household name
in Johannesburg business circles in recent years. His meteoric rise as an
entrepreneur has attracted substantial media attention: features in various
publications, front-page exposure in Entrepreneur magazine, an interview on
BusinessDay TV, and coverage on Standard Bank’s BizConnect site. It has also earned
him recognition in the business world: he was the 2013 recipient of the
Italian-South African Chamber of Trade & Industry’s FNB Business Excellence
Award, and has recently been nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the
Year 2020 Award.
But, despite the media coverage, Antonio has remained fundamentally true to his
roots. Based in Bedfordview, no great distance from where he had his modest
upbringing, his unassuming nature and even-tempered personality seem to belie his
stature in the business world and the publicity generated by his success story.
The Antonio Iozzo story is a classic “rags to riches” tale, involving his ascent
from inauspicious beginnings via business and personal travails to the heights of
commercial success. When Antonio was 15 years old, his father was diagnosed with
multiple sclerosis, which rendered him unable to continue working. With the family’s
income severely reduced, Antonio found a job as a pizzaman at a local Italian
restaurant to assist his mother in covering the household expenses. Eventually he
left school in grade 11, determined to establish a career in the hospitality trade.
He made his own way through hotel school before investing, together with his mother
and brother, all of the family’s meagre resources in an ill-fated restaurant. The
venture ultimately proved unduly ambitious, and it failed, leaving the family