Home » 11 African beverage tycoons you should know

11 African beverage tycoons you should know

by Mfonobong Nsehe

Meet 11 extremely successful African tycoons, who have built multimillion-dollar fortunes by manufacturing alcoholic beverages.

1. Ola Rosiji

Country: Nigeria

Ola Rosiji is the chairman of Lexcel group, a Nigerian conglomerate that owns Nigeria Distilleries Limited (NDL). His late father, Ayo Rosiji, founded NDL in 1973 to import distilled spirits. After creating its own research and development department, NDL started developing its own formulation and processes for a variety of alcoholic drinks such as schnapps and gin. In 1999, NDL started manufacturing its own beverages. Today, NDL is the largest indigenous producer of wines and spirits in Nigeria. The company manufactures popular Nigerian alcoholic brands like Seaman Schnapps, Bacchus Tonic wine, Calypso Coconut Liquor, Dark sailor sum, Regal and Lords’ Dry Gin.

2. Said Boujbel

Country: Tunisia

Tunisian businessman Said Boujbel made his fortune distributing alcoholic beverages in his home country and developing hotels. In 2006, his beverage distribution company, Societe de Production et de Distribution des Boissons SA (SPDB), partnered with Heineken NV to construct a brewery to manufacture the Heineken brand in Tunisia. The brewery commenced operations in 2008 and became a raving success. In 2018, Boujbel sold his controlling stake in the brewery to Heineken.

3. Tabitha Karanja

Country: Kenya

In 1997, Tabitha Karanja and her husband founded Keroche Industries to produce fortified wines for low-income earning rural farmers. The company has since grown into the second largest alcoholic beverages producer in Kenya – just after Diageo-controlled East African Breweries Limited. The company produces beers, ready-to-drink vodkas, wines and spirits.

4. Alan Murungi

Country: Kenya

Alan Murungi’s father was Wilfred Murungi, a storied Kenyan multimillionaire businessman who made his fortune in the tobacco business by founding Mastermind Kenya, the largest indigenous cigarette manufacturing company in Kenya. In 2006, Alan, with an investment from his father, established one of the earliest microbreweries in Nairobi. Upon its success, he decided to mass produce his own line of beers under the Sierra Premium brand. Sierra Premium beer comprises the Sierra Amber, Sierra Blonde and Sierra Porter brands, which are very successful in Kenya today.  

5. Humphrey Kariuki

Country: Kenya

The Kenyan billionaire is the founder of Africa Spirits, a Kenyan alcoholic beverages manufacturer. African Spirits Limited product categories include vodka, brandy and gin. Its more popular brands include Bluemoon Vodka, Legend Brandy, Furaha Brandy, Furaha Gin and Gypsy King Gin. The company has been shut down since 2019 over a series of allegations bordering on tax fraud and the smuggling of ethanol of questionable quality. Kariuki has maintained his innocence. Kariuki also has business interests in energy distribution, power and real estate.

6. Sina Gerard

Country: Rwanda

The Rwandan tycoon is most popular for being the founder of Akabanga, the world- famous hot chili oil. However, his company, Sina Gerard/Ese Urwibutso, also manufactures a range of bestselling alcoholic wines and traditional beers that sell across East Africa.

7. Kwabena Adjei

Country: Ghana

Kwabena Adjei is the founder of Kasapreko Indutries, a local liquor manufacturing giant. Founded in 1989, Kasapreko is best known for Alomo Bitters ­ a herbal based alcoholic drink. Kasapreko also manufacturers other brands such as Ogidigidi Bitters, Opeimu Bitters and Cardinal Liqueur.

8-11. Phillip, Hennie, Bussell and Neil Retief (Four Cousins)

Country: South Africa

Phillip Retief is the CEO of Van Loveren Family Vineyards, South Africa’s leading family-owned winery. The company traces its roots to 1937, when his grandfather Hennie Retief purchased the Van Loveren farm near Robertson in the Western Cape. Phillip’s own father, Wynand, and his brother, Nico Retief, started making wine for wholesale and bottling it themselves in the 1960s, eventually creating the famed “Van Loveren” wine brand in 1980. In 2000, Philip Retief, a third-generation Retief winemaker, partnered with his three cousins, Hennie, Bussell and Neil Retief, to launch the “Four Cousins” range of wines. Today, it is the top-selling bottled wine in South Africa.

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