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Ten ultra-wealthy Tunisian tycoons you’ve never heard of

Tunisian businessmen have accumulated significant wealth over the years from key companies central to the local economy.

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Tunisian businessman Moncef Sellami.

Tunisian businessmen have accumulated tremendous wealth over the years from key companies central to the local economy, as well as corporate entities actively operating abroad.

Unfortunately, these tycoons did not experience the same hike in their net worth this year as their Moroccan and Algerian counterparts, like Aziz Akhannouch, Othman Benjelloun and Issad Rebrab. The hope for a similar bump in their bank-account balance remains a dream for the years to come.

Recent figures from Forbes revealed that the North African country currently has no billionaires, which is understandable given the size of Tunisia’s economy. Its GDP was only $39 billion in 2020.

Despite the country’s poor representation in terms of individual wealth, local families control some of Tunisia’s most powerful companies. Here are some Tunisian multimillionaires who you’ve probably never heard of, but definitely should know.

1. Moncef El Materi 

The businessman is credited for founding one of Tunisia’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Al Adwya.

After leaving the Tunisian Army in 1973, Moncef El Materi devoted himself to creating several commercial and industrial enterprises. This led to his establishing Al Adwya in 1984 with his brother, Tahar. The brothers are equal shareholders in the company.

Alongside his brother, El Materi has grown the pharmaceutical company into a leader not only in Tunisia, but throughout the Maghreb region. The company specializes in the production of pharmaceutical goods for medical and veterinary use.

2. Ismail Mabrouk

Ismail Mabrouk is the chairman of the board of Saida Group, the largest agri-food group in Tunisia. The group produces biscuits, chocolates and cheeses. He is also the chairman of the board of the Arab International Bank of Tunisia.

Mabrouk was put in charge of growing his father’s business, Mabrouk Group, after his death.

Under his leadership, the group grew into a dominant player in the Tunisian economy in the agribusiness, automotive, mass distribution and finance sectors.

Aside from his oversight role within the group, Mabrouk manages several companies, including the Tunisian agri-food leader Saida Group.

Mabrouk derives his multimillion-dollar net worth from his stake in Mabrouk Group, BIAT and Societe Nouvelle Maison de la Ville de Tunis.

3. Ahmed Abdelkefi

Ahmed Abdelkefi is a Tunisian economist and businessman who founded Tuninvest Finance Group, one of the first companies specializing in capital investment fund management in Tunisia, with a focus on small and medium enterprises in Africa.

Abdelkefi launched his first leasing company in Tunisia in 1984. He founded Tuninvest Finance Group (TFG) 1994. The company maintains active operations in Morocco through Marocinvest and in Algeria through Maghrebinvest.

Outside the Maghreb, TFG operates through subsidiaries like Capital Partners Africinvest Saharan Africa, Fidelity in Ghana and Africa and Central CENAINVEST in other West African countries.

4. Tarek Bouchamaoui

Tarek Bouchamaoui is a Tunisian businessman and football personality.

Aside from his governance role in the Egyptian oil company HBS International, he holds a beneficial ownership stake in several companies and private equity funds, including HBG Holding, a holding company based in Tunisia.

In 2015, following his appointment with the FIFA Executive Committee, Swiss Leaks revealed that Bouchamaoui held more than €43 million ($50.4 million) in an HSBC bank account, Jeune Afrique reported.

5. Rached Horchani

Rached Horchani is the founder of Horchani Group, a Tunisia-based conglomerate with subsidiaries in the agriculture, hotel and real estate industries.

He is also on the board of BH Bank, Tunisie Leasing and Factoring S.A. and Horchani Bio Dattes.

Aside from his leadership role in the companies, Horchani is the second wealthiest investor on the Tunisian Stock Exchange.

Through direct investments and indirect stakes, he owns a beneficial stake in Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie, Amen Bank, Banque de l’habitat, Attijari Bank Tunisia and Wifack International Bank.

The joint market value of his shares in these companies is worth millions of dollars, making him one of the wealthiest businessmen in Tunisia.

6. Tarak Cherif

Tarak Cherif is a Tunisian businessman who founded Alliance Group in 1983. He serves as director and general manager of several companies operating in various sectors.

In 2011, Cherif founded the Confederation of Citizen Enterprises of Tunisia, which he chairs.

He is also the head of Alliance One Holding, a Tunisian business group created in 1947. It serves as a holding for 20 companies operating in the industry, export, agriculture and service sectors.

The group has six industrial units specialized in plastic packaging and the manufacturing of house and car paint, construction materials, chemicals and waterproofing and agricultural goods.

7. Nabil Triki

Nabil Triki is a Tunisian businessman who serves as managing partner and CEO of SPE Capital GP Limited, a spin-off of Swicorp, a leading investment bank in the Middle East and North Africa.

Triki heads a group of 11 companies with activities such as agri-food (Le Moulin), poultry farming (Chahia), furniture, textiles (MATEX) and construction. 

While at Swicorp, he launched a private equity fund managing over $1 billion and oversaw the deployment of more than $900 million in more than 20 transactions across the region.

In 2018, Triki bought a nearly 21-percent stake in Banque Zitouna from El Karama Holding, which he later sold in 2019 through Triki Group.

Triki’s turnover reached MAD243 million ($27 million) in 2014. At the time, it was the 18th largest private company in Tunisia.

8. Yahia Bayahi

Yahia Bayahi is chairman and CEO of Tunisie Profiles Aluminium S.A., a major aluminium producer and the chairman of Societe Tunisienne de Verreries, a hollow-glass manufacturer and Tunisia’s first agro-alimentary industry supplier.

Bayahi derives his multimillion-dollar net worth valuation from his 51.34-percent stake in Tunisie Profiles Aluminium SA and his 71.8-percent stake in Societe Tunisienne de Verreries. 

Aside from his role in these companies, Bayahi is on the board of Arab Tunisian Bank and Societe Magasin General S.A.

9. Walid Sultan Midani

Walid Sultan Midani, a 38-year-old Tunisian businessman, is the founder and CEO of Digital Mania Studio, the first video-game development studio in Tunisia.

In 2004, he co-founded the startup Tunisia Games, which organized the Electronic Sports Tunisian Cup from 2005 to 2009. 

Midani is also a co-founder of the Tunisian accelerator, Boost, and a co-director and co-founder of the Tunisian branch of the world’s largest startup launch program, The Founder Institute.

10. Moncef Sellami

The Tunisian businessman is the founder of One Tech Holding, a company engaged in providing engineering, design, production, installation and training solutions in the ICT industry.

Moncef Sellami founded One Tech Holding in 1978 and owns a 25.63-percent stake in the company, deriving his multimillion-dollar wealth valuation from his position in the firm.

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South African tycoon Stephen Brookes’ Balwin Properties returns $14.6 million to shareholders

Brookes has seen the market value of his stake rise by $5.3 million in the past 26 days.

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Stephen Brookes.

Balwin Properties, a Johannesburg-based residential property developer led by South African businessman and real estate tycoon Stephen Brookes, has returned $14.6 million to shareholders in the past 26 days, as investors react to its first-half financial results.

At the end of today’s trading session on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, shares in the South African property developer were worth R3.1 ($0.181) per share, giving the company a market capitalization of R1.44 billion ($84.1 million) at the time of writing.

The company’s share price has risen by 21.1 percent since Nov. 2, exactly 26 days ago, returning a total of R250.9 million ($14.6 million) in gains to shareholders as its market capitalization increased from R1.19 billion ($69.46 million) to R1.44 billion ($84.1 million).

Brookes, who founded the property developer in 1996 and owns a total of 36.08 percent of the company, has seen the market value of his stake increase by R92 million ($5.3 million) in the past 26 days as a result of these value gains.

Despite the recent increase in market value, Brookes’ equity interest in Balwin Properties is worth $6.6-million less than it was at the start of the year, when the firm’s shares soared above a price of R3.4 ($0.22) per share.

Balwin is a large-scale estate developer in South Africa for people with low-to-middle incomes. It provides residents with high-quality, environmentally friendly, and affordable apartments, as well as an innovative lifestyle program.

Profit for the first half of the current fiscal year rose by 48 percent, from R117.2 million ($6.4 million) to R173 million ($9.4 million), according to earnings figures.

The double-digit increase in earnings was due to increased demand for South African residential properties, which resulted in a 20-percent increase in revenue from R1.31 billion ($71.38 million) to R1.6 billion ($87.2 million).

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Controlled by Kenya’s richest families, NCBA Group eyes entry in Ethiopia, DRC, Ghana

NCBA Group is partially owned by the super-rich Kenyatta, Merali, and Ndegwa families.

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Uhuru Kenyatta.

NCBA Group, a financial services conglomerate controlled by Kenya’s wealthiest families, is preparing to launch operations in Ghana, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through partnerships led by its mobile phone banking service, M-Shwari.

The move, which aligns with the group’s strategic expansion plans and diversification strategy through mobile and digital banking, comes just a week after NCBA CEO John Gachora announced that the lender plans to expand into eight African markets.

The group, which is one of the leading lenders in East Africa with operations in Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda, is negotiating mobile phone banking partnerships with banks and telecom operators in the three countries.

The move is consistent with Gachora’s earlier statement, in which the leading executive stated that the model in the new markets will be to collaborate with local banking and mobile partners to deliver products and services to customers while leveraging cutting-edge technology.

According to Gachora, funding the expansion will be less expensive than establishing a traditional bank. “There will be licensing costs because it’s digital, it’s a fintech, and licenses are relatively cheap,” he said. As a result, the Kenyan bank will earn commissions on deals involving the establishment of brick-and-mortar operations in Ghana, Ethiopia, and the DRC.

NCBA Group is a Nairobi-based financial services conglomerate that operates as a non-operating holding through its extensive network of subsidiaries in Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Cote d’Ivoire.

The Kenyan banking firm, established in 2019 by the merger of NIC Bank Group and Commercial Bank of Africa Group, now has 109 branches in five countries — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Cote d’Ivoire — and is partially owned by the super-rich Kenyatta, Merali, and Ndegwa families.

The bank’s profit rose from Ksh6.52 billion ($53.3 million) to Ksh12.8 billion ($104.7 million) at the end of the first nine months of its 2022 fiscal year thanks to a double-digit increase in interest and non-interest income during the period under review.

NCBA has reaped enormous benefits from pioneering mobile phone-based lending in Kenya since partnering with telecom provider Safaricom in 2012 to launch the market-dominating service, M-Shwari.

It hopes to expand this model beyond East Africa, with large populations and a banking industry that primarily serves large corporations.

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Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote plans 300,000 jobs for Nigerians

Dangote Group is poised to cement its position as the second-largest employer of labor in Nigeria.

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Aliko Dangote.

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has announced that his multimillion-dollar investment through his sugar business, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc (DSR), will create no less than 300,000 jobs in Nigeria, as he continues to strategically invest in his sugar business in accordance with the requirements of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).

The leading billionaire, who made this statement while speaking at the flag-off ceremony for the 2022–2023 Crushing Season and Outgrower Scheme Awards in Numan, Adamawa State, explained that the new employment opportunities will include both direct and indirect jobs.

“We are making a massive investment in Adamawa State through expansion of our refining capacity; with this investment, DSR will be able to create about three hundred thousand jobs, direct and indirect, with positive multiplier effects on the economy nationwide,” he said.

This statement comes nearly a week after he committed more than $700 million to expand the operation of its sugar business by increasing the refining capacity of one of its plants, DSR Numan, from 3,000 tonnes of cane per day (tcd) to 6,000 tcd, 9,800 tcd, and 15,000 tcd.

The investment will also drive the expansion of the group’s Backward Integration Program (BIP) in accordance with the NSMP, as the leading billionaire plans to put in place the necessary infrastructure for the eventual start of full-scale production.

The move, which aligns with the country’s goal of achieving sugar sufficiency, fits well with the company’s strategic expansion roadmap and is expected to increase revenue and earnings power while also creating shared wealth for stakeholders.

The Dangote Group, a manufacturing conglomerate owned by Aliko Dangote, is poised to cement its position as the second-largest employer of labor in Nigeria, behind only the Nigerian government, thanks to the 300,000 jobs that will be generated by the new investment.

Due to an increase in demand for both fortified and unfortified sugar, DSR, a leading integrated sugar company that is majority owned by Dangote, announced earlier this month that its nine-month 2022 profits increased by double digits.

According to the group’s financial statement, profits at the end of the first nine months of its 2022 fiscal year rose by more than 60 percent as revenue increased, from N15.51 billion ($35.4 million) in the corresponding period of 2021 to N24.83 billion ($56.6 million).

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