He is the richest man in the country but Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia has revealed that when he started out, his dream was to just have a good home and private education for his children. These were words of encouragement that you can build a big business brick by brick to guests who witnessed as he received the East African Business Leader Award of 2018.
The award is given by East Africa Book of Records and the event took place at Kabira Country Club.
“Have a strong foundation. You build on the foundation. No need to aim too high where you can’t reach. Aim where you can reach and then aim for the next level, then next level and eventually the sky is the limit,” he told guests.
Above: Dr. Sudhir thanked the government for an enabling business environment.
“I dedicate this award to His Excellency The President of Uganda and his NRM government for creating an enabling environment and formulating liberal economic policies to encourage entrepreneurs like myself to invest in Uganda and to make the private sector thrive in this country – Without that, let me assure you that with all your business acumen, planning, hard work and dedication you will still struggle to achieve success,” he said.
The East Africa Book of Records was launched in 2013 by a council of the five East Africa presidents with President Yoweri Museveni as the inaugural recipient of the Leadership Award. Other previous recipients include President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Dr. Paul Bamutaze the President of EA Book of Records revealed they will be organising the annual Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia Business Lecture for the business magnet to share his knowledge with young people across the African continent. The first such lecture will be held at the University of Nairobi in 2019.
“Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia has shown that if you are focused, no barrier can inhibit your success. Young people look up to him and we are glad to tap into his knowledge,” he said.
The business magnet is also passionate about mentoring the next generation of business leaders.
“It is my wish and desire that this award will be an inspiration to the young Turks such as Rajiv (Ruparelia) and his contemporaries to continue on this path and eventually someone will recognise your contributions in developing this wonderful country,” he said.
Veteran politician and businessman Capt. Mike Mukula referred to Dr Sudhir Ruparelia as not only one of the best business minds on the African continent, but the whole world.
“He has been able to build institutions from a humble beginning and see these institutions grow to a level of perfection. Dr. Sudhir is extremely very meticulous and very thorough,” he said.
Mukula also recognised the spill over effect of Dr. Sudhir’s business acumen that has led to the success of several other businesses.
“Without Dr. Sudhir, not many businesses would be standing in this country. There are many other entrepreneurs who are now millionaires because of his financial ingenuity,” he said.
“He has been able to build this economy right from inception of the NRM government in 1986,” Mukula added.
Dr. Sudhir was also thanked for his philanthropy. “He has given so much to charity and on many occasions, he gives and says, don’t mention my name,” Ms Camille Aliker, wife to eminent elder Dr. Martin Aliker who was also present at the occasion said.
Sudhir who was previously recognised as one of Africa’s billionaires by Forbes Magazine also dedicated his award to business associates and family including his children Meera, Sheena, Rajiv and Jyotsna his wife of 42 years and counting.
“They have not only been my inspiration but also for their trust and their unwavering commitment by enduring my hard work and often tense moods and by being on my side through all the trials and tribulations which are but inevitable on this arduous journey.
About Dr. Sudhir: Sudhir Ruparelia (born 17 January 1956) is a Ugandan business magnate and investor. He is the chairman and majority shareholder in the companies of the Ruparelia Group. His investments are mainly in the areas of banking, insurance, education, broadcasting, real estate, floriculture, hotels, and resorts.
According to Forbes in 2015, he was the 27th wealthiest individual in Africa, with an estimated net worth of US$800 million.
Background: Ruparelia was born in Kabatoro, Kasese District in the Western Region of Uganda to an upper-middle-class Gujarati family. His great-grandfather reached Mombasa, Kenya in 1897 from India and set up a trading store there before coming to Uganda in 1903. His grandfather was born in Uganda in 1918 and his father in 1932. Ruparelia has two sisters and one brother. 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.
He moved to the United Kingdom with his parents in 1972 at the age of 16, when the dictator Idi Amin expelled all Asians from Uganda. He returned to Uganda in 1985, with US$25,000 earned from several casual jobs including working in supermarkets, factories, and butcheries. Ruparelia started selling beer and spirits imported from Kenya. In 1989, beer importation was banned to encourage local brewing of alcohol and he realised he could not make beer. But since his customers, who were mainly foreigners, paid him in foreign currency, he started Crane Forex Bureau, the first in Uganda. With his profits, Ruparelia ventured into other businesses, including forming Crane Bank in 1995. Later, he organized his businesses under the umbrella of the Ruparelia Group.