Today, we reveal Uganda’s legendary millionaires who keep a huge fortune.
1. Godfrey Kirumira
Of the famous Kirumira Towers. He insists that he is no tycoon. ’I am still borrowing money to expand on my business, ’´ he says. True. But show us a millionaire who has never borrowed money and we will show you a murderer who has never killed. Its interesting that for Kirumira, a successful businessman is one who is no longer dependent on loans.However, those with a business head on their shoulders know otherwise and maintain that he is stinking rich. Like Michael Ezra, Katumwa and the rest of the new breed, Kirumira rose to wealth and prominence after the NRM ascended power in 1986.The most prized businesses assets we know so far are Kirumira towers and several fuel outlets (Shell and Gelp petrol stations).We cannot also ignore his influence in Express Football club. He has been known to lure players away from his rivals with extraordinarily fat cash bonuses. To us, he has the markings of someone who has hit it big time.
Estimated Fortune USD$10M
In some ways, the story of Hassan Bassajjabalaba’s rise to wealth is as unreal as that of Cinderella. Two years ago he rocketed from obscurity into the limelight after his company, Yudaya International won a bid to redevelop the Constitutional Square into a shopping mall estimated at $10 million. Before then, little was known of the man who came to be popularly known as Hassan B. Even more puzzling, no one seemed to know how he had made his money. News that he had in fact inherited a prosperous hides and skins business from his father, was met with a lot of scepticism and disbelief. The business reportedly started in the 1950s and expanded.
Bassajjabalaba’ s company, Haba Group of Companies, was the biggest exporter of hides and skins. He made the most of his fortune while it lasted and bought a string of hotels (White Horse Inn Kasese, Rena Hotel in Namirembe and Lake View Regency Hotel in Mbarara).Onto this, he added the City abattoir and Kampala University later renamed Kampala International University. It is rumoured that he owned a fleet of 720 cars, some of them with personalised number plates. He also had an interest in Uganda Meat Packers and was planning to open several fuel outlets.
But while Cinderella successfully married her prince charming and lived happily after, Bassajjabalaba’ s empire slowly started crumbling – when the Uganda Revenue Authority came calling and started investigating him for tax evasion. At the same time, the International Police (Interpol) was keeping an eye on his business operations, following reports that he had failed to pay close to $11million (Shs 20 billion) to some Italian businessmen. When the story broke, Bassajjabalaba was reportedly very distraught. It was rumoured that he spent days locked up in his house. At the time, business analysts attributed his troubles to heavy loans and his penchant for investing in assets that did not offer a quick return.There are now whispers that Bassajjabalaba is quietly selling off his acquisitions to repay the loans. It is not clear what is left of his empire or how much control he’s got over his remaining assets.Suffice to say that he enjoyed his place in the sun until the revenue people demanded for their pound of flesh.
There is also a rumour that some of his assets are actually ‘owned’ president Museveni and members of the first family. The Muslims are also not happy that he used the UMBS headquarters to steal Muslim property with the help of Mufti Mubajje.
Estimated Fortune USD$30M
3. Charles Mbire
He started his career in 1985 as managing director of Pop-In Industries Limited and four years later moved on to become the Uganda resident representative of the Hyundai Corporation.
After a 6-year stint there he became chairman of Uganda Inflight Service Limited, a joint venture between Uganda Airlines Corporation, Fecis (Pty)Ltd, Efforte Corporation and Sunco Limited before becoming Chairman of the Board of Directors of MTN Uganda in 1998 in a joint venture between MTN (Pty)Ltd, Telia AB (Sweden), Tri-Star SARl and Mbire’s investment company, Invesco (Uganda) Limited.MTN, he says, was the clinch. For one thing, it allowed him to pursue an obsession: human development and empowerment.
On this elementary economic logic, MTN, at the behest of Mbire, took a gamble in Uganda’s largely informal market where other mobile service providers threw caution to the wind.
His timing seemed impeccable. ‘’;We had another operator in the country charging $2�500 just to get connected. They would also close on a Saturdays and Sundays and there was no aftercare service;’’ he says. The result: A large segment of Uganda’s informal market was untapped; beyond the chimera of orthodox risk analysis, a competitor was opportune.
To Mbire, true innovation takes guts: The soft underbelly of what was, in essence, an expensive and uncompetitive monopoly was an opportunity to reload. So he geared up what became his signature investment arm, Invesco (Uganda) Limited, and looked for a company that could exploit the market with an affordable and resourceful offering to ordinary Ugandans.
As for spin-offs, take a drive out of Kampala towards Entebbe, and roadside bazaars nestle alongside a blur of squat makeshift cellular outlets bearing the yellow MTN signature as far as the eye can see.
Indirectly, MTN employs more than 15,533,000 people and, with 1.5 million active phones on its database, is the biggest taxpayer in the country; an estimated 97 billion shillings over the past 7 years. True, a rough calculation of 1,5 million phones charging on average once a day at the average electricity unit cost nets roughly $750; 000 a day in revenue.
That’s a small fortune in an underdeveloped economy. But the development spin-off is a lot more gratifying. Mbire’s face beams with adoration for an ailing woman in a rural village who, because of the parlous state of infrastructure and exorbitant cost of a medical consultation, had no recourse to basic medical care.
Estimated fortune USD$55M
4. Karim Hirji
Hotel Magnet. Most people know him as a rally driver rather than a rich man. But there is more to him than just fast cars. The rally ace is a hotelier and owns a string of hotels; Hotel Equatoria, Grand Imperial Hotel, Imperial Botanical Beach hotel and Imperial Resort Beach Entebbe.Imperial Finance and Insurance, Didi’s amusement park and Dembe Car sales are the other big business names associated to Karim Hirji. According to our information, he started small – by selling textiles and spirits. His first shop, Dembe Enterprises, was then located on Luwum Street just before Mukwano Arcade.
Estimated Fortune USD$150M
5. Sudhir Ruparelia
There is a rumour that has been circulating the grapevine that property mogul Sudhir Ruparelia owns half the city of Kampala. He usually laughs whenever he is asked about it and says it is a big lie ’´ spread by his competitors. However, if you made a count of his investments, it is easy to see why people continue to whisper behind his back.Sudhir owns a building on almost every busy street in the city; most of them situated in prime locations. No one, (except himself, and he doesn’t talk much about it), knows how Sudhir made his money. But what we know is that before the 90s, he was not among the wealthiest in Uganda. Some say Sudhir hit a jackpot in the Premier Lottery, while others have wild stories that he struck gold while doing kyeyo in the UK. Bur Sudhir says the secret to his success is: hard work, persistence and a bit of luck.’’To be successful, you should make sure you achieve your goals, and never give up. There are so many road blocks but you must continue with a strong determination,’´ he says. Whatever the origin of his riches, Sudhir seems to have it all; flower farms, hotels, resorts, banks, country clubs, et al. His estate, encompassed in the Ruparelia group, is one of the biggest in the country. It includes: Rosebud, Meera Investments, Speke Resort and Country Lodge Munyonyo, Crane Bank, Speke Hotel, Crane Forex Bureau, Kabira Country Club and Kabira International School.Others are: Tourist Hotel, Goldstar Insurance Company Limited, Premier Finance Limited, Kabira Leisure Centre, Crane Management Services limited, Crane Financial Services Limited, Sanyu FM, Sunrise Radio and Kabira Forex Bureau Limited.But he has a soft spot for Speke Resort in Munyonyo and his prized fitness gym at Kabira Country Club, which is sometimes touted as the best-equipped gym in East and Central Africa. It is said that behind every successful man, there is a good woman. But Sudhir’s wife, Jyostna, is no ordinary housewife. She is a businesswoman in her own right and runs the Ruparelia group together with her husband. Some people in the know claim, that she is the real mover and shaker.
Estimated Fortune USD$150M
6. Gordon Wavamunno
In the 1960s, this entrepreneur started off by working for the Merali Jivraj Family ( See below in our list). In his Biography, he says he owes his success to his adopted strategy of flexible business diversification by putting my eggs in as many baskets as possible’´.
According to Wavamunno, he has followed a flexible and varied approach to doing business – thus his success. Since his luck in the 1960s, Wavamunno has ventured into a variety of businesses: transport, insurance, banking, trade, tourism, entertainment, the electronic media, property development, manufacturing and farming. So far his Mercedes Benz franchise is one of the most popular in the country.Wava as he is popularly known started out with a taxi hire service in his hometown, Mbarara and later on diversified to a bus service, which he named Rugaaga Bus Service. This used to link his village, Rugaaga to Mbarara town.
He later on moved to Kampala and started up another bus company, which collapsed and he moved on to Spear Touring Safaris Ltd the forerunner of Spear Motors.He was not so lucky in the tourism sector due to the turbulent 1970s but that did not stop him. He still owns a fleet of tankers and trailers that transport goods to and from Mombasa.Companies in which he has stakes include: GM TUMPECO, Wava Holdings, Spear House, Wanno Engineering, Batunga Quarry, Radio Simba, WBS, Nile Bank, United Assurance Company, Nakwero farm and Victoria Flowers Ltd located in Entebbe near the airport.
Estimated Fortune USD$23M
7. The Merali Jivraj’s
The Merali Jivraj Family has been one of legends. One that only you get to see in the fairy tale entrepreneur books. They had it all, they lost it all and they gained it all on their own. The family’s life biography is an inspiration to the term often used by them ‘’I walked a Dream with Frustration and I walked Frustration with a Dream.” Their lives are full of colors. The bright and dark colors of life.
A humble trader from India in the year 1910 dared to venture into the dark jungles of Africa. His name was Merali Jivraj, son of Jivraj Hamirani. This name was to later to grow into one of the most powerful names in the Ugandan mining history. He used his intelligence, kind heart and vision for the future to shape the destiny of his children into one of the most prominent families. He passed away at a young age of 44 leaving his beautiful wife and 7 children. However it was his children that carried his name forward into time. His four boys, Sadru, Nooru, Taju and Juju.
However during the economic turmoil in Uganda, the Merali family split up into different camps. One in the United Kingdom, and the other still in present day Uganda. During this turn around of events under the Idi-Amin regime, the Merali family lost its fortune and glory. Mining was the essence of the Merali family, their mining operations earned the family endless fortunes. At one time it was reported, their Mines were bringing out Barrilium and tin at an exciting rate of 25tonnes a day.
They were based in western Uganda in a rural area called Kikagati. During this mining boom in Uganda, the Merali family were grossing very large sums of capital during the 60′s. They reached the pinnacle of their operations in 1965, with the inclusion of 3 other mines in Luwanza and Kibira in Western Uganda close to the Tanzania-Uganda border. That was the golden age for the family, referred to as the “KINGS OF BARREL” by the British Mineral Corporation.
The family was estimated to be very wealthy in the mid sixties. They were called one of the big M’s of the country. The Merali family lived together and strongly believed in the principals of oneness and family-hood. Apart from their powerful mining operations they were strongly involved in Produce buying and Agriculture. This was started by the Late Merali himself. The wealth accumulated was very immense. The brothers worked in unity and unison. This led to their development in financial and social ways.
They donned the city of Mbarara in the sixties. Mercedes Benzes and expensive American cars were never a rare sight amongst a Merali. The Merali family always stayed out of the lime-light and helped where it was necessary.Quietly. They never backed a political party or a politician. This was always their motto. “Regimes come and go….Businessmen always remain…” However, later in 1972, this philosophy would be their un-doing. The country was taken over by a dictator president, Idi-Amin. He chased out all Asians from the country. Not even the millions of the Merali’s could save them from continuing life normally.
However Tajdin Merali, the 3rd brother of the 4 had strong military connections. He always believed in spending money on important people. You never know when they may come to your aide. The military gave the Merali family strong protection against the problematic regime until they were evacuated out of the country to the United Kingdom. However Tajdin Merali and Zulfikar Merali remained in Uganda to wind up operations. They managed to wind up their investments in the country and credited their closing account to the International Credit Bank. However ill fortune loomed over them and the International Credit Bank collapsed in the 1980′s. The Merali’s faced great losses and the family began breaking up into camps. One in the UK, and the other in Uganda. The bank never compensated them. Investments were made in the UK which the elder brother Sadhrudin Merali took over and the remaining investments in Uganda were taken over by Tajdin Merali and Zulfikar Merali. The glory of the Merali family was lost, it is still lost today.
The Meralis still choose to live low profile. They went one step ahead and changed their family name from Merali to Jivraj, The name of Merali’s father. They believe it is a new beginning. A humble beginning. They feel the pompous Merali name can only be used when they are worthy of being called it again. Their investments in Uganda are no longer as strong as they used to be, nonetheless they are well diversified into the Electronics & I.T sector, construction and property developments. Their exact investments to date are not very clear however a great decline in their once strong hold in Uganda is known.
However the other half of the family in the United Kingdom has diversified into Property, tourism and the health sector. They lived a legacy in Mbarara, until today a Merali is known once he passes the streets of Mbarara. However their low profile life style and failure to conjure the family’s past glory has quickly made them disappear off the minds and memories of the new generation. The title which they once enjoyed as The Kings of Barrel ’´ is no longer a reality. No successful Mining operations after the Merali family have taken place in the Western region of Uganda.
The new generation of the Merali’s prefer to call themselves Jivraj. They have walked away from the glory the family once shared. They are individual businessmen around the globe. However a few still remain in Uganda and hope that one day their time will return.
Estimated Fortune USD$18M
8. Micheal Ezra
His is a typical rags to riches fairy tale. Interestingly, no one seems to know how Uganda’s newest and youngest (he is 30 years) millionaire made his bucks. Michael Ezra In a recent press interview, Ezra’s father said he is as stunned about his son’s wealth as the rest of us. Apparently, it’s only Ezra who knows the fountain of his wealth, and right now he is not talking. But he has promised to unveil the shroud of mystery surrounding his wealth – when he is in the right mood for doing so.
For now, all we know is that he comes from a relatively poor family. Born Michael Semakula, Ezra left Uganda 13 years ago and returned a millionaire. Ezra has the typical rich man’s syndrome; he loves to show off and brag about his wealth.
Currently, he was based at the Sheraton hotel where he has taken over the entire Presidential Suite before he was recently arrested in Kenya for shaddy businesses. He owns five customised Mercedes Benzes as well as the very first Lamborghini in the country. But unlike many rich men, who are solely concerned about their bellies, Ezra likes to think of himself as a sports philanthropist. He has bailed out the national boxing team The Bombers out of their financial troubles, and he has also dipped into his wallet to bankroll the national athletics team.
He footed the bill for 2008 Uganda Sports Press Association gala at Hotel Africana, and also made a donation of Shs 15 million to the child king of Toro, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru. His list of good deeds goes on and on.Is he here to stay?There is no telling the future. However, if things continue to move well, and he does not get into trouble with the law like Hassan B and Haruna Semakula, we are likely to see more blank cheques bouncing around (no pun intended).
Estimated Fortune USD$200M
9. James Mulwana
Nearly every one in ten Ugandans has used a nice pen, plastic mug, basin or jerry can. The man behind it all is none other than James Mulwana, founder and owner of Nice House of Plastics.
He is not just one of East Africa’s finest Chief Executive Officers (CEO), but he is also one of the most successful businessmen in Uganda. Some sources claim that he was once a bouncer at the then famous Suzana nightclub in Nakulabye, some decades ago, before lady luck smiled at him.Mulwana was an early bloomer and got involved in the import-export business.
At one time, he ran a mail order business, exporting wooden combs to Shepherds Bush in the United Kingdom. Some say, life for Mulwana would have probably followed much the same routine had it not been for his friend, Dr William Kalema, formerly the Chairman of Uganda Manufacture’s Association. Kalema predicted, rightly so, that manufacturing was the future for the development of emerging economies like Uganda. He reportedly introduced Mulwana to Chloride, a British company that was at the time looking for partners in Uganda. The company opened a motor battery manufacturing line in Kampala, with Mulwana as managing director.
Apart from the Battery company, Mulwana set up Ship Tooth Brush (renamed Nice House of Plastics), the first company to manufacture toothbrushes in Africa.The battery line shut down at the height of political instability in the 70s and early 80s but re-opened soon after peace returned to the country. The Nice product line has now diversified into tableware, packaging and knapsack sprayers. The factory sells 12,000 batteries a month and has made pile for Mulwana.
But that’s not all Mulwana owns. In 1986 he started Jesa Mixed Farm with a seed herd of 82 Friesian cows, which have now multiplied to thousands. In 1994, he added a milk processing plant. In 1992, he entered a partnership with some German businessmen and established Nsimbe Estates, now one of the country’s biggest exporters of cut flowers. In his own words, Mulwana once told the East African newspaper thus: his success is the contribution of many people’´.
Estimated Fortune USD$30M
10. The Mehta’s
In his autobiography, Dreams half expressed, Nanji Kalidas Mehta said: “The way to success is a hard road to travel. Disappointments and failures dishearten us in the midst of struggle but a man of enterprise has to pass through the period with patience and cheerfulness till he gets his well deserved returns.”
Nanji Kalidas Mehta had a simple family background but patience and cheerfulness enabled to pioneer into the sugar industry in Uganda. He came as a young Indian merchant who sailed to East Africa in a country craft nearly a century ago.
The True Uganda Magazine says in 1912 at the age of 12, he landed at Port Tanga in Tanzania after a long journey from India. He proceeded with his journey on foot to Uganda where he entered through Eastern Uganda.
As a youth, he wondered into thick forests in Uganda, including Mabira, up to the grasslands where he established a chain of 29 ginneries and plantations. His son Mehendra, the current Chairman of the Mehta Group, has similar capabilities.
The magazine says Mehta settled in Lugazi because the weather was conducive for sugarcane growing. He reportedly established the first sugar factory in 1924 under the name Uganda Sugar Factory and by 1971 the factory produced 60,000 metric tonnes of sugar per annum.
Mehta was one of the first exporters of Uganda’s cotton to Japan and other places which greatly helped in the establishment of the cotton industry in Uganda. It was cotton, coffee and copper that formed the foundation of Uganda’s pre-independence economy.
Mehta’s investments were taken over by the Government during Amin’s economic war (1971-1972), which brought sugar production to near collapse. By 1979 sugar production at Lugazi had fallen from 55,000 to 150 metric tonnes per annum. By 1985 the sugarcane plantation had turned into a bush.
SCOUL is a joint venture between the Government and the Mehta family. The Government and the President have an obligation to ensure that the joint venture succeeds. Since SCOUL does not have land for expansion, the President is right to do what is humanly possible to find land as requested.
Uganda is experiencing a shortage of about 40,000 tonnes of sugar per annum, and this is expected to increase to about 170,000 tonnes per annum after five years as a result of the increase in population, as well as the rise in capita consumption of sugar from the present 9kg to 12-14kg. This will require about US $70-$80m per annum for sugar imports. This expenditure can be avoided by expanding the local production capacity. Besides, the sugar market in the Great Lake region is growing very fast. Uganda could export to the regional market and improve its foreign exchange earnings.
SCOUL intends to increase its production capacity from 50,000-55,000 tonnes per annum to 100,000-110, 000 tonnes. This means investing $45m. The land SCOUL needs for this expansion is not available in Mukono district because of high population density.
The Government and SCOUL will ensure that the part degazetted does not include strict nature reserve zones or recreation zones. The area earmarked for sugarcane growing is depleted as encroachers have already reduced the trees. Even if it was not given to SCOUL, encroachers would still not allow it to recover.
SCOUL’s efforts to establish an efficient outgrowers’ scheme are hampered by land tenure problems. Most landlords prefer to use their land for subsistence farming and not permanent estates. Most Bibanja owners have very small plots of one to four acres scattered in various areas. Therefore outgrower production is not viable because of costs of collection and transportation of cane to the factory.
However, SCOUL continues to support larger land owners to grow sugarcane. The company provides financial assistance and extension services. The company has loaned out nearly sh800m to prospective sugarcane growers.
SCOUL has requested the Government to include the sugarcane outgrowers’ scheme into its Bonna bagaggawale programme on the understanding that the company will guarantee market for all the sugarcane produced by out-growers.
SCOUL is taking care of afforestation. In the past 16 years, the company has planted trees on all its hills, which were formerly bare. About four to five million trees have been planted. There is a nursery containing about 500,000 seedlings of all types of trees. An organisation which does not respect the environment cannot undertake such projects. Yet some of the individuals and organisations who are criticising the proposed give-away of Mabira have never planted a tree although they have been destroying trees for domestic purposes.
Since their return to Uganda in 1985, and the subsequent formation of the joint venture with the Government, the Mehta Group consider themselves Ugandans. Because of their stake in SCOUL they have a policy of contributing to the well being of Ugandans. For example after the 1981-1986 war, the company opened up a number of previously-impassable roads in the area, in addition to developing farm roads.
The Community Centre in Mukono where district council meetings are held was a gift from the Mehta Group. The magnificent library at Gayaza High School was donated by the Mehtas. They also donated the land in front of Sheraton Hotel to Kampala City Council. SCOUL also plans to support UPE and USE by investing in educational institutions. They have maintained the roads throughout the sugarcane grown areas to all-weather standards. In the coming few years the company will work on improving water supply and rural electrification in areas that will be producing sugarcane on outgrower basis.
Schools and dispensaries will be established in new areas for the benefit of workers and their families.
Estimated Fortune USD$500M
11. The Mukwano’s
Uganda’s list of the rich and famous would be incomplete without Alykhan Karmali and Amirali Karmali. This duo, popularly known as the Mukwanos, is the most successful father and son business partnership today. They own the Mukwano Group of Companies, one of the biggest conglomerates in Uganda. It comprises: Mukwano Enterprises Ltd, A.K. Transporters Ltd, A.K. Oils & Fats (U) Ltd, A.K. Plastics (U) Ltd, A.K. Detergent (U) Ltd, Mukwano Sweets & Confectioneries (U) Ltd, Rwenzori Commodities Ltd and Mukwano Forex Bureau Ltd.
As is the norm with the rich, it is not easy to establish their bank balance, but with more than 10,000 employees on its payroll and payment of over Shs 40 billion in taxes annually, it’s safe to assume that the Karmalis will not starve even if they chose not to work another day. Like many tycoons, the Karmalis neither like to talk about their wealth, careers nor their family history.
However, a recent article in the East African newspaper gives an insight into how they made their money. Legend has it that a Mr Ali Mohamed Karmali, a pioneer Indian Investor who came to Uganda in 1904, laid the foundation of the empire. After working as a shop assistant in Jinja, he shifted to Mbarara, before settling in Bukandula, in Mpigi district, where in partnership with other Asian families, he did a roaring trade in cotton and coffee.
Mr Karmali was reportedly so popular with the locals that they nicknamed him Mukwano gwa bangi (a friend of many), ’´ later shortened to ’Mukwano’´. It is also here that Mr Amirali Karmali was born in the mid-1930s.The business took off when the family moved to Fort Portal, where the young Karmali, acquired a second-hand truck and begun to transport produce for sale in Kampala.
Soon after, he expanded to western Uganda and some areas of eastern Congo and thereafter moved to Kampala, where he opened his first shop under the business name Egesa Commercial Agencies. In 1972 the then President, Idi Amin got his infamous dream in which God commanded him to expel an estimated 80,000 Asians and redistribute their assets to indigenous Ugandans.
Karmali isn’t willing to discuss this sad chapter in the history of Ugandan Asians. However, other sources claim that he never went into exile. That he was hidden by good Samaritans for a number of years. While many Asian businesses were looted and taken over in the late 70s Mukwano was able to rebuild his business and in the early 80s established Mukwano Enterprises Ltd., which later expanded to include Mukwano Industries (U) Ltd.
In 1995 Mzee Mukwano relinquished control of the Group to his son, Alykhan Karmali and became its chairman. He now spends most of his time in Fort Portal, growing and processing tea for export
Estimated Fortune USD$700M
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12. The Madhvani’s
One of the best-known business names in Uganda is the Madhvani Group, which employs over 10,000 people and is a major contributor to the government’s revenues. The Madhvani family, originally from India, has been in business in Uganda for more than half a century.
By the 1960s, the family had built a huge commercial empire in Uganda and East Africa.When the dictator Idi Amin expelled all the Asians in 1972, the Madhvanis fled to Britain. They did not return until the mid-1980s at the invitation of President Museveni. ‘’It was devastating to see the total mess when we returned,’´ says Chairman Mayur Madhvani. There was no sugarcane, the factory was looted, there were no roads and few people. But we took up the challenge because we thought this country had great potential in agriculture.We were encouraged by President Museveni’s government, the World Bank and other agencies, such as the African Development Bank, which helped us raise the $53 million loan needed for the rehabilitation of the sugar plant.
The Kakira Sugar Works at Jinja and the associated sugar plantations employ the majority of the 10,000 people who work for the group. Together with the outgrowers and their families, the Madhvani Group supports around 40,000 local people. The group provides free schooling, healthcare, training and scholarships to promising pupils. The family foundation has donated several buildings in Kampala to the government. Although initial financial support to rebuild the core of his industrial empire came partly from the government, Mr. Madhvani stresses that he is currently seeking to initiate joint ventures with foreign private investors ready to take advantage of the group’s widely diversified interests.
The range of products the company is involved in includes edible oils, confectionery and soap, as well as steel manufacturing, metal products, glassware, packaging, tea, flour, brewing, floriculture, insurance and a TV station. ‘’We are ideally positioned to identify partners who wish to do business in Uganda in some of these areas,’´ he adds.
The group’s core businesses, however, are based on agriculture and tourism ’· two sectors which Mr. Madhvani says Uganda has yet to exploit to the full. Tourism in Uganda is developing, but its still relatively virgin territory. ’´
The group owns two luxury hotels, the Paraa Safari Lodge in northern Uganda and the Mweya Safari Lodge in western Uganda, which is an ideal base from which to track mountain gorillas. One of the most important things we have in Uganda are the facilities for tracking gorillas. There are very few of these primates left in the world, and they are a big selling point, ’´ Mr. Madhvani says. He adds: We are not looking at Uganda as a main destination, but as a springboard for Kenya and Tanzania. Tourists can visit Uganda directly from there ’´ Mr. Madhvani wants to see easier access for tourists traveling between these east African countries. The government has got to set up a good infrastructure to encourage the free movement of tourists across the borders, ’´ he says.
Estimated Fortune USD$800M