Home » Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji looks to raise $1 billion to expand empire

Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji looks to raise $1 billion to expand empire

by Mfonobong Nsehe
Mohammed Dewji

Tanzania’s richest man Mohammed Dewji plans to raise at least $1 billion to grow his company and venture into new sectors.

Bloomberg reports that during an interview on the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum the 46-year-old billionaire affirmed that 40 percent of the funds will be raised through loan financing and the other 60 percent through equity financing. About 15 percent of the funds will be used to finance operations in neighboring countries such as Rwanda and Uganda over the course of three to five years, he said.

Tanzania, which is home to tourist destinations like Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti nature reserve, has seen a modest increase in investment as President Samia Suluhu Hassan changes legislation and relaxes regulations for doing business.

With operations in sisal farming, flour milling, textiles, drinks, edible oils, and electricity, MeTL Group, Dewji’s industrial conglomerate, is one of Tanzania’s largest employers.

“We are investing heavily into the carbonated soft drink business, where we really really want to take on Coke and Pepsi with homegrown brands,” Dewji said. “We are already dominant in some of the brands, but now we are setting up shop everywhere around the country, wherever Coke is present.”

To get funding for the envisioned investments, Dewji is in talks with funders such as Proparco and the African Development Bank. “We still have tons of money we could raise. We are heavily under-leveraged,” he said.

Dewji said his company plans to have sisal planted on more than 30,000 hectares and to become the world’s largest sisal producer by the end of this year.

Sisal is a fiber-yielding plant used to make rope, paper, carpets, and strengthen gypsum.

MeTL Group presently produces close to 20,000 tons of sisal fibre per annum from plantations located in Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro and the coastal regions of the country. It is already one of the world’s largest producers of Sisal, alongside other companies such as Hamilton Rios, SFI Tanzania, and GuangXi Sisal.

Dewji has other ambitions outside beverages and sisal. He is also looking to invest approximately $200 million on a sugar manufacturing facility that will handle 2 million tonnes of cane and generate roughly 200,000 tonnes of the sweetener. He added that MeTL plans to acquire a financial technology firm and venture into micro-lending and other forms of digital banking. In the tourism sector, MeTL has purchased an island off the coast of Tanzania to build a resort.

Dewji, according to Forbes, is Tanzania’s richest man with a fortune estimated at $1.5 billion. He is credited with taking over a successful trading company built by his father and transforming it into the manufacturing behemoth that MeTL is today.

In May, he delivered Georgetown University’s commencement address, and also received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the Georgetown McDonough School of Business.

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