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Here are 10 of the wealthiest tycoons in Kenya who you most likely don’t know

About 8,300 people in Kenya hold high-net-worth-individual status.

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Kenyan businessman Manu Chandaria.

One of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, Kenya has a GDP of $99 billion and is home to more than 53.7 million people, of whom 330 are multimillionaires. Meanwhile, a total of 8,300 people hold the high-net-worth-individual status, according to a recent report by AfrAsia Bank.

The seventh-largest economy in Africa, Kenya ranks among the top 30 countries on the continent for living standards and economic wealth of individuals, with a GDP per capita of $1,838, based on data from the World Bank. This is a step below Angola’s $1,895 and Nigeria’s $2,097.

Kenya is also part of an elite group of five African countries that account for more than 50 percent of the continent’s total private wealth held by individuals. Private wealth in Kenya was estimated at $90 billion in 2020, making it the fifth-largest country on the continent in this regard.

Here are 10 of Kenya’s wealthiest businessmen, according to research by Billionaires.Africa.

#1 Manu Chandaria

Source: Manufacturing and Real Estate 

Manu Chandaria is a member of Comcraft Group, a billion-dollar enterprise that manufactures steel, plastic and aluminium products. The company has a presence in more than 40 countries.

His business interests are extensive and span the Kenyan economy.

Besides the wealth he derives from his ownership stake in Comcraft, Chandria holds a significant fraction of his wealth in real estate investments.

#2 Bhimji Depar Shah

Source: Manufacturing

Bhimji Depar Shah is a Kenyan businessman, industrialist and entrepreneur. He founded Bidco Industries Limited in 1970 as a garments manufacturing business. Since that time, the Kenyan enterprise has grown into a manufacturing conglomerate with operations in 13 African countries.

Recently, it has evolved into a leading soap, detergent and baking powder manufacturer, with an annual gross revenue in excess of $300 million and a portfolio of more than 40 brands.

Owing to his success as a businessman, Shah was named the wealthiest person in Kenya and the 31st wealthiest person in Africa, with a net worth of $700 million in 2015. He replaced his son, Vimal Shah, in the position after Forbes Magazine reevaluated Bidco’s ownership structure.

#3 Samuel Kamau Macharia

Source: Media

Samuel Kamau Macharia is the founder of Royal Media Services (RMS), the largest private radio and TV network in East Africa and Kenya’s most successful broadcasting house, valued at $500 million.

His media company runs the Citizen TV channel and 14 FM radio stations, with a presence in six countries in East Africa — Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia — where it broadcasts by transmitter and over the Internet.

RMS is one of the few media houses in Sub-Saharan Africa to acquire a Ksh300-million ($3.5 million) helicopter for news coverage.

#4 Atul Shah

Source: Retail 

Atul Shah is the managing director and CEO of Nakumatt Holdings Limited, the parent company of Nakumatt Supermarkets, the largest privately owned supermarket chain in the African Great Lakes Region.

With more than 50 stores and annual sales of $450 million, the company operates through its subsidiaries in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

In 2013, Shah valued shareholder equity in the retail chain at $400 million. It plans to expand its operations to Burundi and South Sudan over the next two to three years.

#5 Peter Munga

Source: Financial Services  

Peter Munga is a Kenyan multimillionaire businessman and the immediate past group chair of Equity Bank Group, a company that he founded in 1984 as Equity Building Society.

Equity Bank Group has grown into one of the largest bank holdings on the African continent by numbers of customers, with more than 15 million.

The multimillionaire derives a substantial percentage of his wealth from his ownership stake in Britam Holdings and Equity Bank Group.

He is also a non-executive director in Britam Holdings Plc, a leading diversified financial services group with a presence in seven African countries, and HF Group Plc, a Kenyan mortgage finance provider.

#6 James Mwangi

Source: Financial Services

James Mwangi is a Kenyan accountant, banker, businessman and entrepreneur. He is the group managing director and CEO of Equity Group Holdings Plc.

He is the executive chairman of Equity Group Foundation, a Kenya-based entity formed to bolster corporate social responsibility and enhance socio-economic prosperity in the region.

Together with his wife, Mwangi holds stakes in Britam Holdings and Equity Bank Group worth more than $65 million.

#7 Kimani Rugendo

Source: Consumer Goods

Kimani Rugendo, a Kenyan multimillionaire who turned his water business into a multi-billion-shilling empire, is one of the country’s richest businessmen.

Thanks to his flagship company Kevian Kenya, he has built a fortune leveraging opportunities in the consumer goods industry through the sale of packaged water and juice products.

Since the company’s founding, it has transformed itself into a whole fruit juice company, with two plants launching powerful brands like Pick ‘N’ Peel and Afia, which have gone on to dominate not only the Kenyan market, but the greater East and Central African regions.

#8 Adil Popat

Source: Conglomerate 

Adil Popat is one of the most successful car dealers in Kenya through his Simba Corporation, an empire that includes auto dealerships, luxury hotels and engineering and financial services.

The multimillionaire also owns the popular Villa Rosa Kempinski hotel in Nairobi. He is the group executive chairman of Simba Corporation.

#9 Suleiman Said Shahbal

Source: Investment Banking, Financial Services and Energy

Suleiman Said Shahbal is an investment banker, who has concluded deals across the globe in excess of $1 billion.

The leading investor, who has more than 25 years of experience in the banking sector, recently concluded a deal that will set him on course to earn millions of dollars after the French multinational Rubis Energie receives approval to buy out shares in Gulf Energy Holdings.

Shahbal was responsible for setting up Gulf Energy, Kenya’s fourth-largest energy company, with branches in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and South Africa.

His stake in Gulf Energy is held indirectly through Monte Carlo Investments Limited, which he wholly owns.

Shahbal is also the mastermind of Kenya’s first Islamic bank, Gulf African Bank, which set the trend for a new industry in the country. It is currently the 14th largest bank in Kenya.

#10 Francis Koome Njogu

Source: Energy

Francis Koome Njogu is the CEO of Gulf Energy, a Nairobi-based special purpose vehicle owning part of the oil marketing assets and businesses of Gulf Energy Holdings.

Just like Shahbal, Njogu is on course to pocket millions from the sale of shares in Gulf Energy Holdings to Rubis Energie.

East Africa

Malagasy tycoon Hassanein Hiridjee says Africa needs to invest in clean energy transition

Hiridjee is one of Madagascar’s wealthiest and most powerful business leaders.

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Malagasy tycoon Hassanein Hiridjee.

Malagasy multimillionaire businessman and AXIAN Group CEO Hassanein Hiridjee has stated that Africa must invest in a clean energy transition to bolster the continent’s renewable energy capacity.

“We must double our commitment within Africa to increase investments to shape our own energy destiny in order to meet long-term goals,” Hiridjee said.

Millions of Africans could be lifted out of energy poverty with the right strategy and investment in clean energy transition projects stimulated by collective action from the private and public sectors, he said.

His statement comes after U.S. billionaire Michael Bloomberg pledged $242 million to assist developing countries, including African nations, in transitioning away from non-renewables.

Hiridjee explained that such funding is needed to combat Africa’s continuing energy crisis, in which hundreds of millions lack access to basic electricity.

He added that the lack of access to basic electricity is only worsening as a result of the war in Ukraine and COVID-19, with 25 million more Africans living without electricity than before the pandemic.

Infinity Group, a leading renewable energy company led by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour, recently partnered with the Africa Finance Corporation to acquire Lekela Power, making Infinity the continent’s largest renewable energy company.

Hiridjee, one of Madagascar’s wealthiest and most powerful business leaders, has also played a formative role in developing commercially viable energy solutions that provide Africans with efficient, long-term access to energy resources.

Earlier this year, Axian Group completed the expansion of the Ambatolampy solar power plant in Madagascar, from 20 to 40 MWp.

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East Africa

Ugandan tycoon Charles Mbire to pocket $1.15-million interim dividend from MTN Uganda

Mbire owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit.

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Charles Mbire.

Ugandan multimillionaire businessman Charles Mbire is on track to receive an interim dividend of Ush4.48 billion ($1.155 million) from his stake in MTN Uganda after the telecom group reported a double-digit percent increase in earnings in the first half of 2022.

MTN Uganda is Uganda’s leading telecom service operator.

Mbire, the chairman of MTN Uganda and one of Uganda’s wealthiest businessmen, owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit, which operates as the fourth operating subsidiary of the South African multinational mobile telecom company, MTN Group.

The interim dividend will be paid electronically into his bank account at a later date from the group’s retained earnings of Ush902 billion ($232.4 million) at the end of its 2022 fiscal year. It is his first dividend from the telecom company since its shares were listed more than eight months ago.

The dividend payment follows a significant rise in the group’s earnings in the first half of 2022 despite a 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue, as it looks set to replicate its stellar performance in 2021.

As a result of the company’s strong financial performance, the board of directors approved the payment of an interim dividend of Ush5 ($0.00128) per share for the six months ending June 30, totaling Ush11.95 billion ($28.9 million), which is subject to withholding taxes.

According to data retrieved from the company’s earnings report for the first six months of 2022, its profit increased by 48.1 percent to Ush193.6 billion ($50.2 million) in the first half of 2022, compared to Ush130.7 billion ($33.7 million) in the first half of 2021.

The double-digit increase in profit can be attributed to a 10-percent surge in the company’s service revenue, which was driven by a significant increase in data and fintech revenue, which were more than sufficient to offset the 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue.

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East Africa

Led by Kenyan founder Owen Sakawa, AI-powered startup Elloe acquires Flo by Saada

Elloe was founded in 2021 by Sakawa, Abhijay Rao, and Aaron Madolora.

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Owen Sakawa.

Elloe, a U.S.-based conversational commerce startup led by Kenyan tech entrepreneur Owen Sakawa, has acquired Flo by Saada nearly three months after raising more than $1 million in a pre-seed funding round led by institutional investors.

Flo by Saada is a Kenyan social commerce startup founded by Gerishon Mwaniki.

The acquisition of the startup, which launched in 2019 to enable small and medium enterprises to build solutions and process payments through USSD and programmable SMS, was completed for an undisclosed fee.

Through the acquisition, Elloe will be able to accelerate its next phase of growth by scaling operations for its corporate clients and expanding its footprint beyond its current operations in Kenya and the Philippines.

Commenting on the transaction in a press release obtained by Billionaires.Africa, Elloe CEO and Founder Owen Sakawa said: “The addition of Flo by Saada technology is a natural extension of Elloe’s offerings and fits perfectly into Elloe’s strategy. It transforms customer interactions from simple communications to conversations across the entire spectrum of customer engagement points.”

He added that Elloe will be better positioned to meet customers’ evolving needs in the future as it continues to provide businesses with embedded commerce capabilities to simplify the way that they serve, connect with, and sell to their own customers from anywhere, on any channel.

Elloe was founded in 2021 by Sakawa, Abhijay Rao, and Aaron Madolora as a first-of-its-kind AI-powered, conversational commerce platform that allows small and medium enterprises to buy and sell products online across messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.

With its proprietary technology that assists small businesses in managing their digital sales and customer service through an omnichannel platform that runs on messaging apps, the startup hopes to capitalize on opportunities in the $35-billion conversational commerce market, which has the potential to reach $130 billion by 2025 in emerging markets.

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