Roberto Santiago: Helping His Hometown Grow One Mall at a Time

Published on Author RM2000

The story of Rodrigo Santiago and his hometown of Joao Pessoa reads like a love story. He was born in the city 58 years ago and has spent much of his life there. When the time came to set up his first business, he chose his home city as his base thus helping sustain and grow the local economy. However, his greatest contribution to Joao Pessoa was developing the highly acclaimed Manaira shopping mall in the city. The beautiful mall is considered by many to be the jewel in Joao Pessoa’s crown, offering the city some bragging rights over larger cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

While he had always had the passion for it, Roberto Santiago’s start was not in entrepreneurship. After graduating from the University Center of Joao Pessoa, Santiago first worked at Café Santa Rosa. The company manufactured and sold décor products. While his job was highly rewarding, he soon realized that he would not be satisfied until he had a business of his own. Consequently, he quit and started his own company, Cartonnage. Like his previous employer, his company also produced decorative products but mainly concentrated on manufacturing cartons from cardboards. In 1987, he decided to expand his entrepreneurial by developing a mall, and thus the Manaira shopping mall was developed.

The Manaira shopping mall is among the largest in the country and undoubtedly the largest in the state of Paraiba. The 135,000 square-meter mall took two years to build and futures more than 150 shopping stores. Owing to its numerous amenities that include a gaming area, movie theaters, a fitness center and a fairly-priced food court, it is considered the go-to recreational spot for most Joao Pessoa residents. It is also home to the College of Higher Education of Paraiba. Further, recent changes to the mall in 2014 also significantly improved dining options within the mall, with a large gourmet space being opened.

A mention of the Manaira shopping mall cannot be complete without highlighting its famed Domus Hall. Located on the rooftop, the Domus Hall is a conference hall with cabins, bathrooms, and bars that can be used to host thousands of people at a time.

The Manaira shopping mall is not the only mall owned by Rodrigo Santiago. In 2013, he developed his second mall, the Mangeria Shopping Mall. Like Manaira, this second mall is also located in his home city of Joao Pessoa. The two are essential to the city’s economy as they employ hundreds of locals. Further, their presence in the city has increased its attractiveness as a business destination, with numerous company setting up base in the city. Inadvertently, the price of land in Joao Pessoa has also gone up since the two malls were built.