Kampala — Mr Mohammed Dewji's ideas and experience regarding building a business empire are compelling.
Born in the rural setting of Singida, one of the regions of Tanzania in East Africa, the renowned businessman, investor, philanthropist and former politician says the 18 hours labour pains and struggles his mother endured before his birth is a testament of how lucky he counts himself.
Speaking yesterday in Kampala, Uganda, the 14th richest person in Africa and also the youngest billionaire in the continent, with an estimated net worth of $1.9billion, according to Forbes Magazine, noted that emotions and business decisions are two different things, stressing that while dealing with the former, sentiments must be detached or kept in check or else you could run the risk of ending up with regrettable decisions.
As the President of the Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited Group (METL), one of the largest family-owned, diversified group of companies headquartered in Dar es Salaam, Mr Dewji oversaw increase in revenue from $30million to over $1.5billion between 1999 and 2015, something he attributed to hard work, focus and importantly being disciplined and humble at all times.
Participants at the Monitor Thought Leaders
Participants at the Monitor Thought Leaders Forum listen attentively. Photo by David Lubowa
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This, in addition to experience and exposure under the tutelage of his father, explains what he has become as well achieved over the years, including turning METL into one of the most successful conglomerates in the region.
Speaking at the sixth Daily Monitor's Thought Leaders Forum held under the theme, "Growing businesses into a multibillion dollar enterprise" Mr Dewji, an ardent sports lover underscored the importance of decentralising decisions, saying this provides a platform that paves way for businesses to exist beyond the demise of the founders.
He said: "It is important for businesses to continue even after the death of the founder. I would like to see my businesses continue even after me, but that begins with ceding some control so that when you are away, even for a weeks nobody calls you and everything is fine."
He continued: "But ultimately you must groom somebody to take over; that is just how it is for continuity."
Importantly though, Mr Dewji who is part of an initiative that will see world's wealthiest commit half of their wealth to philanthropy either during their lifetime of upon their deaths, says nothing should compromise quality and that those in the lower end of the pyramid must not be excluded on the account of price or affordability because they are the reason the business exists and ultimately succeeds.
Dewji receives a gift from Nation Media Group - Uganda MD, Tony Glencross and NTV's general manager, Johnson Omolo. Photo by David Lubowa
Things to note about Mohammed Dewji
Dewji is the CEO of METL, a Tanzanian conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s. METL is active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. METL operates across eight African countries and has ambitions to expand to Uganda and several more countries.
Dewji, Tanzania's only dollar billionaire, signed the Giving Pledge in 2016, promising to donate at least half his fortune to philanthropic causes.
Dewji retired from Tanzania's parliament in early 2015 after completing two terms in office.