Every city has at least one attraction that stands apart from the rest. For the Brazilian city of Joao Pessoa, the capital of the state of Paraiba, it is undoubtedly the Manaira Shopping Mall. As noteworthy as the mall itself is, the story behind it is even more impressive. It wouldn’t exist at all without the hard work, dedication and vision of Roberto Santiago. Before he was even 30 years old, Santiago had laid the groundwork for the massive shopping complex. Today, it is the go-to spot for shopping, dining and entertainment in this bustling city of around 800,000 people.
How did Roberto Santiago come up with the idea for Manaira Shopping Mall–and how did he make it happen? First, it helps to understand that this astute businessman hit the ground running from a young age. Immediately after finishing secondary school, where he excelled in his studies, Roberto Santiago went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Pio X Marist College. Next, he went on to earn a degree in business administration from University Center of Joao Pessoa, which is otherwise known as UNIPE. With these educational credentials under his belt, he was ready to break into the world of business.
It all started with a position at Cafe Santa Rosa. Roberto Santiago was very good about being careful with his money from a young age, so he was able to save a lot during this time. Eventually, he earned enough to invest in a local carton company, which produces cardboard boxes and the like. Happily, the venture was a huge success, and Santiago made excellent returns on his investment. In fact, he did so well that he was able to purchase a huge, prime piece of commercial real estate right in the heart of downtown Joao Pessoa.
Of course, that plot of land is where the Manaira Shopping Mall now stands. Don’t let the name trick you, though; it’s far more than just a place to shop. In addition to offering more than 280 stores and restaurants, it boasts a fitness center, an 11-screen movie theater with stadium seating, a food court, a bowling alley and a game arcade called the Game Station. In 2009, a rooftop concert hall, Domus Hall, was added to the roof. It is now one of the largest in the country. What will Roberto Santiago come up with next? Only time will tell, but it will be interesting to see.