12 November 2012

Uganda's Richest Say Hardwork Key to Their Success

Uganda's richest men, who recently appeared in the renowned Forbes business magazine, have attributed their success to hard work and determination.

The magazine last week recognised five Ugandan personalities as being among Africa's relatively unknown but successful entrepreneurs. They include Sudhir Ruparelia, Patrick Bitature, Charles Mbire, Amiral Karmali and Amos Nzeyi.

The magazine described them as low-key, ultra-wealthy tycoons, entrepreneurs and business leaders worth more than $50 million.

This comes ahead of the publication of the Forbes' annual ranking of the 40 Richest People in Africa later this month (November), in which the Ugandans will also be featured. "A lot of research has gone into the making of this list and this year, we've uncovered several hidden holders of wealth across the continent," the magazine wrote.

In a telephone interview on Sunday, Sudhir Ruparelia said his success came about because of hard work. "For Forbes to come to Uganda and recognise entrepreneurs is historical. We have been recognised here in Uganda, but outside, we may not be. Forbes has given us the opportunity to be known outside," he said.

Sudhir owns several businesses under the Ruparelia Group, which employ over 6,000 people. Born in Uganda, Sudhir moved to UK at the age of 16 after Idi Amin expelled Ugandan-Asians in 1972.

In 1985, he returned to Uganda with $25,000 as savings and started doing business. He has since expanded into the banking, hotels, insurance and education sectors.

The magazine also featured Patrick Bitature, the founder of the Simba Group, which is into mobile-phone and airtime retailing.

It has outlets in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, among others. He also owns Protea Hotel and is board chairperson of Uganda Investment Authority and the electricity distributor, Umeme.

"What was released was a teaser of some sort. Let us wait and see what they [Forbes] have to say when the magazine is out. They are a revered institution which does its research well," Bitature said when contacted.

Charles Mbire, the chairman MTN Uganda, was also recognised. He is a shareholder in the telecom giant and also a board member of several companies like Afro-Alpine Pharma, Ecobank, Eskom and Rift Valley Railways, in addition to being chairperson of the Uganda Securities Exchange.

Amiral Karmali, the founder of Mukwano Group which manufactures cooking oil, soap, cosmetics, industrial plastics and detergents, was recognised.

According to the magazine, the group has an annual revenue of over $230m. Karmali is also one of Uganda's biggest landlords.

The fifth Ugandan to be recognised is Amos Nzeyi, the chairman of Crown Beverages.

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