Home » 25 Indian billionaires who made a fortune in Africa

25 Indian billionaires who made a fortune in Africa

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Narendra Raval

With a long history of migration to various African countries, Indian immigrants have established successful enterprises across diverse industries.

These immigrants arrived in Africa with limited resources and often faced significant challenges, including cultural differences, language barriers, and limited access to capital. However, their determination, resilience, and willingness to adapt enabled them to overcome obstacles and thrive in their adopted countries.

Indian immigrants have excelled in the trade, manufacturing, retail, real estate, and hospitality sectors. They have leveraged their knowledge, skills, and networks to identify opportunities, establish large multi-million-dollar and billion-dollar businesses, and drive economic growth.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of 25 Indian entrepreneurs – living and dead – who built multi-million and billion-dollar businesses and fortunes in Africa. 

Sunil Vaswani

Nationality: Nigerian

Company: Stallion Group

Sunil Vaswani is the chairman of Stallion Group, which is based in Dubai but generates the bulk of its $4 billion annual revenues from West Africa, particularly Nigeria. Stallion Group has tentacles in Agribusiness, automobile assembly, packaging, fisheries, steel manufacturing, and logistics. Vaswani, who has Nigerian citizenship, took over the Nigerian trading business from his father, Sundar D. Vaswani, when he was 21 and built it into the multi-billion-dollar conglomerate Stallion Group is today. Vaswani is not without controversy. In 2003, the Nigerian government deported him over alleged duty evasion. 

Bhimji Depar Shah

Nationality: Kenyan

Company: Bidco Group

Bhimji Depar Shah, 91, was born in Egypt but settled in Nyeri in the central highlands of Kenya, where he built his first significant business, a petrol station. In 1970, he founded Bidco Industries to manufacture affordable clothing for lower and middle-class Kenyans. The company began producing soap in 1985 and edible oils in 1991. Bidco is now East Africa’s largest manufacturer of fast-moving consumer goods, churning everything from noodles and fruit juices to beauty soaps and animal feed. Annual revenues of the group exceed $400 million. 

Narendra Raval Guru

Nationality: Kenyan

Company: Devki Group

The “man of steel,” fondly referred to as “Guru” in Kenyan political, business, and social circles, sits on top of the largest steel manufacturing company in East Africa. His Devki Group, which has over $600 million in annual revenues, manufactures all kinds of steel and cement products. Last year, the company opened a $300 million raw steel production plant in Kwale County, Kenya’s coastal region. Born in India, Raval once served as an assistant priest at a Swaminarayan temple before relocating to Kenya with his family as a teenager.

Sudhir Ruparelia

Nationality: Ugandan

Company: Ruparelia Group

Sudhir Ruparelia is the founder of Ruparelia Group, the largest conglomerate in Uganda. The group owns an extensive collection of hotels, country clubs, thousands of residential apartments, a flower exporting business, educational institutions, insurance companies, and a leading construction company, among many other assets. Ruparelia started his empire by importing beer and salt from Kenya in 1985 after returning from the United Kingdom, where he went after being expelled from Uganda by then President Idi Amin in 1972, along with other Asians in the country.

Naushad Merali

Nationality: Kenyan

Company: Sameer Group

Naushad Merali died in July 2021 at the age of 70. Until his death, he was one of the wealthiest Kenyans and most influential people in East Africa. Merali founded Sameer Group in 1983 and built it into a leading economic force with significant investments and successful operating companies in all key sectors of the Kenyan economy – agribusiness, automobile and distribution, construction, energy and power, finance, property development and real estate. 

Manu Chandaria

Nationality: Kenyan

Company: Comcraft Group

Chandaria, 93, built Comcraft Group into one of the most prosperous groups in East Africa. The conglomerate, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, produces steel, plastics, and aluminum products from its manufacturing facilities in 16 African countries and employs more than 30,000 people. 

Chandu Shah

Nationality: Kenyan

Company: AquaSanTec

Chandu Shah founded AquaSanTec in 1989 and built it into the largest manufacturer and wholesaler of water security-related products across East Africa. AquaSanTec has more than $50 million in annual revenues and manufactures the well-known Kentainers brand of water tankers in various facilities in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and Zambia.

Dhiren Chandaria

Nationality: Kenyan

Company: Ariel Foods

Born in Kenya and educated in England, Dhiren Chandaria spent 24 years in North America before returning to Kenya to acquire Orbit Chemicals. He built it into the largest contract manufacturer in Kenya, serving multinational and local customers like Unilever, Colgate, Reckitt, PZ Cussons, Henkel, and L’Oreal. Chandaria also owns Ariel Foods, a therapeutic food manufacturer which has facilities in Kenya and Nigeria. It is one of the biggest suppliers of ready-to-use therapeutic food to the World Food Programme. 

Mayur Madhvani 

Nationality: Ugandan

Company: Madhvani Group

Mayur Madhvani is the youngest son and child of Muljibhai Madhvani, the family patriarch who founded the Madhvani Group in 1930. Madhvani, 78, is widely credited with growing the family empire into one of the largest diversified private-sector groups in East Africa today. With strong operations in Uganda, Madhvani Group is best known for its dominance of the sugar business in the country. Its flagship company, Kakira Sugar Works, is the largest sugar manufacturer in Uganda, producing an estimated 165,000 metric tonnes of sugar annually. It also owns Kinyara Sugar Works, the second-largest sugar producer in the country. The Madhvani Group also has interests in power generation, hotels and resorts, and security services, among other things. The group has annual revenues of over $500 million. 

Vinay and Ratan Mahtani

Nationality: Nigerian

Company: Churchgate

Vinay and Ratan Mahtani’s father, Ishwardas Mahtani, founded Churchgate Group in 1968 as a textile manufacturer, large-scale importer, and distributor of essential commodities. In 1995, the company shut down its textile business after the Nigerian government removed protections for the local textile industry, allowing the importation of all textiles. Churchgate changed its focus to leasing excess space in its office and warehouse properties and real estate development. It has completed several large-ticket residential, commercial, and mixed-use projects. Churchgate owns The World Trade Center Abuja, among several other properties.

Ramesh Hathiramani

Nationality: Nigerian

Company: Dana Group

Ramesh Hathiramani is the founder of Dana Group, a large Nigerian conglomerate that has interests in aviation, pharmaceuticals, importation of industrial chemicals, and automobile distribution. Dana Group also owns a steel rolling mill in Katsina state in Nigeria’s northern region. Hathiramani started trading general merchandise in the early 1970s in Nigeria before venturing into the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals in the mid-1980s.   

Dana Motors, the group’s auto distribution subsidiary, is the sole distributor of Kia in Nigeria. It also owns the popular Dana Air, a commercial airline. 

Amirali Karmali 

Nationality: Ugandan

Company: Mukwano Group

Amiral Karmali, who died in 2019, founded the Mukwano Group in East Africa. This industrial conglomerate produces everything from cooking oils, fats, toilet soaps, and cosmetics to industrial plastics and detergents. The company’s yearly revenue exceeds $230 million, and most of its products are industry leaders. Karmali was also a significant landowner in Uganda, owning 17,000 acres of property in the Masindi district. Alykhan Karmali, his son, is currently in charge.

Vivian Reddy

Nationality: South African

Company: Edison Group

Vivian Reddy, a South African Indian of South Indian descent, founded the Edison Group, which is involved in the power, casino, and hotel sectors. Edison Power, the group’s flagship business, is one of the largest electrical engineering service providers in South Africa. He also owns the multimillion-dollar Ocean Mall in Durban. 

Iqbal Surve

Nationality: South African

Company: Sekunjalo Group

Iqbal Surve, a trained physician, left medical practice in 1997 and founded Sekunjalo Group. It invests in African oil and energy, resources, financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, fishing and aquaculture, food and beverages, hospital information systems, leisure, entertainment, and media. It is a multinational investor and a South African partner to foreign enterprises in other fields. It has 200 investments, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ramesh Valechha

Nationality: Nigerian

Company: Milan Group

Ramesh Valechha is the chairman of Milan Group, a leading business conglomerate in Nigeria. Valechha founded Milan Group four decades ago as a commodity trading company and built it into a diversified conglomerate with operations in various African countries, including Dubai, India, the UK, Geneva, and China. The group’s businesses include automobile distribution, shipping, transport, hotels, consumer goods imports, and real estate. Milan Group also distributes tires, vehicle batteries, and lubricants. The company also has significant investments in real estate and owns the Lagos Continental Hotel. 

Benoy Berry

Nationality: Nigerian

Company: Contec Global

Benoy Berry founded Contec Global Group in 1984 and established the company as a leading force in security technology and the biometric identification of individuals, materials, and documents. The company has a long-standing partnership with the Nigerian government to develop secure technologies for passports and resident cards.

Raj and Alok Gupta

Nationality: Nigerian

Company: African Industries

The brothers control African industries, a Nigerian conglomerate with diverse business interests, including mining, steel manufacturing, chemicals, and real estate development. African Industries is the largest steel company in Nigeria. 

Ylias Akbaraly

Nationality: Malagasy 

Company: Sipromad Group 

Sipromad Group, one of Madagascar’s largest privately held firms, is led by Ylias Akbaraly, its chairman and principal shareholder. Akbaraly is credited with growing Sipromad from a small family-owned commodities trading firm founded by his father several decades ago into the $350 million (annual revenue) worldwide powerhouse it is today. The organization today has holdings in various industries, including agriculture, private aircraft, and hotels, as well as security services, pay television, utilities, and consumer products.

Hassanein Hiridjee

Nationality: Malagasy 

Company: Axian Group

Hassanein Hiridjee of Madagascar is the majority stakeholder of Axian Group. This investment holding firm owns a significant position in BNI Madagascar, one of the largest commercial banks in the Indian Ocean. Axian also controls Telma, Madagascar’s third largest mobile network with over 2 million customers, and the fuel marketing powerhouse Jovenna.

Bashir Currimjee

Nationality: Mauritian

Company: Curimjee Group

Bashir Currimjee’s grandfather, Currimjee Jeewanjee, emigrated from Gujarat, India, to Port Louis, Mauritius, in 1884. He started a small business in 1890, trading livestock feed, rice, oil, and pulses. More than a century later, that business is the Curimjee Group. This Mauritian group has interests in telecom, media and IT, real estate, hospitality and tourism, commerce and financial services, energy, food and beverages, and home and personal care. Curimjee owns Emtel, Mauritius’s second-largest mobile telecom operator, and Mauritius’ most prominent digital pay TV firm MC Vision, among other ventures.

Rambhai Patel 

Nationality: Kenyan

Company: Ramco Group

Kenya’s Ramco Group was founded by Rambhai Patel, an Indian immigrant who settled in Nairobi in the early 1940s and established a hardware store in the city’s downtown district. His three sons, Kirit, Mahendra, and Chandrakant, joined the family business after completing their studies and helped expand Ramco’s holdings into print, stainless steel, IT and office supplies. Ramco now operates in Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda and employs more than 2,000 people with an annual turnover of over $300 million. 

Hargovind and Balkrishnan Gorajia

Nationality: Rwandan

Company: Akagera Business Group

The brothers are the founders of Akagera Business Group, which operates in Rwanda and Burundi. Akagera Motors, the group’s flagship subsidiary, is the exclusive distributor for Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Kia, Fuso, MCV, Mahindra & Foton in Rwanda.

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