Sudhir Ruparelia as of 2019 is Uganda’s richest man. He is worth a whopping $1.3 billion dollars according to Forbes magazine. This makes him one of the few billionaires that is self made with the bulk of his investments in Africa.
Monkeypesa dug deep to bring you the story of how the billionaire got his start, what he has done over the years and how he has got himself to such wealth levels.
The story shows what it takes to truly get to the top. We see Sudhir falling to the ground and getting back up over and over again. We hope this inspires all entrepreneurs out there.
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He was born is 1956 in Kasese a place called Kabatoro. right from his early education life he had an eye for the numbers. Math was one of his favorite subjects. He attended Bat Valley Primary School in Kampala, from P1 to P6, then Jinja Main Street Primary School in Jinja for P7 and Jinja Secondary School. In 1971, he joined Kololo Senior Secondary School.
His parents had to leave Uganda due to Amins expulsion of all Indians from the country in 1972. The family resettled in the UK where he got his A level education from.
He returned to Uganda in 1985, with US$25,000 earned from several casual jobs including working in supermarkets, factories, and butcheries.
His start in Business.
Ruparelia started selling beer and spirits imported from Kenya on his return from the United Kingdom.
He ran this until 1989 when the government banned importation of all foreign beers. Realizing that he could not get into the business of beer making, he opted to get into forex business through crane forex bureau. This was mainly because from his previous business many of the clients were foreigners who paid in foreign currency. He thought it wise to help all the foreigners that were giving him beer business a way to easily convert there foreign currency for cheap. He was one of the first people to start the foreign exchange business in Uganda.
Crane forex bureau was so profitable that by the 1990s they were raking in $10k a day.
During the 1990s he also started a lottery business that actually got him in quite hot soup with even some of Uganda’s military personnel to the extent of even doing some jail time.
In 1995 With the lots of money being made Sudhir started to attract the attention of the banks. They started coming hard and brought serious competition to his business.
As a way to combat the competition he decides to fight back by starting a bank of his own. Crane Bank.
Now with a bank, a thriving business and several pieces of real estate Sudhirs business engine had really been kick started.
He begun racking in billions of shillings in profitability growing the bank over the years to the 4th largest bank in Uganda.
from the bank they diversified into other sectors like insurance, media, education, floriculture, hotels and so much many more.
With now several businesses he thought it wise to consolidate all his empire into one entity names the Ruparelia Group of companies
- Under the Speke Hotel Group, Sudhir has over the years established numerous high end and budget hotels in Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja and other parts of Uganda. These include Kampala Speke Hotel, Kabira Country Club, Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, Speke Apartments Limited, Tourist Hotel, Speke Resort and Conference Centre, Forest Cottages, Dolphin Suites among others. The Munyonyo Speke Resort complex is a 5-star Hotel and resort which sits on 76 acres on an idyllic setting at Munyoyo on the shores of Lake Victoria. A report by Ventures Africa says this is easily the most valuable asset in his extensive property portfolio. The munyonyi resort has 59 Presidential suites, mainly because in 2007, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting took place there and 59 Heads of state were present. Other facilities include 10 state-of-the-art conference rooms, including a 1,000-seat ballroom and 9 multi-function meeting rooms accommodating groups of 10 to 300. The resort also has Uganda’s only Olympic size swimming pool, an equestrian centre and a choice of bars and restaurants.
- Flower growth and export. He is the countries largest exporter of flowers. Rosebud Ltd is the country’s largest exporter of roses commanding around 40% of Uganda’s rose-export market while Premier Roses produces the highest quality cut roses in the world.
- Schools and a University. Sudhir has over the years said that his knack for education inspired him to massively invest in quality education. He has a primary school, Kampala Parents School, which follows a local curriculum but is run under international standards. Its good performance has continued to be a benchmark for many schools. His other international schools Delhi Public International School-Naguru and Kampala International School Kampala (KISU) have established good record offering international curriculums following an investment workth $150m. Kampala Victoria University has risen from its former shadows to be one of the leading private universities in the country. The Jinja road based University is research driven, attracting schoolars from over 30 countries in the world. It has the most unique classroom facilities and tools, most of which you can’t find in public universities. With these investments, you cannot ignore Sudhir’s contribution to the education sector.
- Real Estate and Property Development. Through Meera Investments Ltd and Crane Management Services Limited (C.M.S.), Sudhir has become the biggest and wealthiest landlord in Kampala. In the decades since its establishment in 1994, Meera Investments, has built a reputation with its innovative ideas in real estate, particularly in property development and construction, throughout Kampala. Crane Management Services Limited is a highly professional property management company, in operation since 1996. It has a rich asset base and forms part of a financially sound group having diversified business interests. It manages of the Ruparelia properties in the entire country.
His business philosophy .
- First, you need to go into the kind of business that suits your lifestyle, interests and passion so that you enjoy what you are doing. This will make what you do cease to feel like a job and turn into a hobby. Be honest and always keep your word, especially to your customers even if it means making losses. If, for some reason, you are unable to, please call and let them know of the developments.
- It also takes time to get to the top. You don’t have to be in a hurry, just stay the course. I always reinvest 90% of my profits into my businesses and only consume the remainder.
- When starting out, ensure your business has adequate capital for growth. This has helped me grow quite fast. I don’t take uncalculated risk. This is how I have survived. You also need to understand every minute detail of your business otherwise you will be cheated by your employees. I strive to achieve this.
- He doesn’t believe so much in partnerships. As they require consensus which may not be good for business growth as people have families, wives that may have varying interests. If one can afford. Then simply employ the best employees to help deliver your dreams.
- Trust and honesty are key to him.
Most Recent scandal
His Bank Crane bank was in a shady manner taken over by DFCU bank, he took the central bank to court and actually won 400 billion shillings
Sudhirs future plans.
He is planning to build a modern state-of-the-art hospital in the place where the former Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence is headquartered on Kitante Road near the Mulago roundabout.
We want it to provide high quality medical services for both the needy and well-to-do so that people no longer have to go abroad for specialised treatment.
On top of this He would also like to build a university for which I have already acquired land on Entebbe Road so that I can provide the much-needed high quality university education, which he missed myself.