Sudhir Ruparelia, covers front page of April Forbes Magazine, he transformed from a Cab driver to a billionaire. Sudhir Ruparelia, East Africa’s richest man, is new to the Forbes World’s Billionaires list this year. He is the founder of the Ruparelia Group, Uganda’s largest conglomerate, with interests in property, banking, education, insurance and agriculture. It owns a chain of hotels, hundreds of commercial and residential properties in Kampala, a country club, a chain of foreign exchange bureaus, two secondary schools and Crane Bank, one of Uganda’s top three commercial banks.
Ugandan businessman Sudhir Ruparelia is the richest man in East Africa and comes in at a prestigious number 18 in the whole of Africa according to the second ‘Africa’s 40 Richest’ list released by Forbes magazine this week SEE MORE AFTER CUT>>>>>>>>
I’m shocked, but definitely very pleased,” said Ruparelia, the first Ugandan ever to scale these heights.
“Ugandan businessmen have come a very long way. Everybody has the same opportunities to make it here.
The oil is here and we have not even got started on that yet so, certainly, the best is yet to come,” he said on Friday.
Forbes is an American business magazine well known for its lists of the richest Americans (the Forbes 400), highest-paid stars under 30, and its list of billionaires.
Forbes’ list tracks the wealth of African citizens who reside on the continent, thus excluding Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen and billionaire London resident Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian citizen.
They calculated net worths using stock prices and exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, November 9, 2012. To value privately-held businesses, they coupled estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-toearnings ratios for similar public companies.
Ruparelia, 56, whose net worth the magazine estimates at a staggering $900m (sh2.34 trillion), is among 10 newcomers who have joined the ranks, including, for the first time,two women.
Aliko Dangote of Nigeria tops the list for the second year running, with a net worth of $12b, up from $10.1b in November 2011. Most of his net worth lies in publicly traded Dangote Cement, which operates in 14 African countries. Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa comes in once again as the second richest, with a $6.4b fortune down $100m from a year ago. South Africa, the continent’s economic giant, is home to 12 of Africa’s 40 richest, followed by Nigeria with 11. Egypt comes next with 8 members, and Morocco with 5.
Ruparelia has made his money through Uganda’s largest privately held conglomerate – Ruparelia Group of Companies which is into banking, insurance, hospitality, conventions & leisure centres, education, property development, property management and floriculture among others.
He is the single largest private property owner in Uganda. Forbes, which quotes the Uganda Land Alliance, says he owns close to 300 prime residential and commercial properties in some of Kampala’s swankiest neighborhoods alone.
In fact, Forbes quotes President Yoweri Museveni as saying Ruparelia’s real estate concerns rake in as much money as the entire country earns from exporting tea and coffee – about $400m a year.
Some of these assets include Crane Chambers, the headquarters of his empire on Kampala Road and City House, home to the offices for 150 of Uganda’s MPs.
He is currently undertaking three massive construction projects around the city along Kampala road opposite Post Office, on Luwum Street facing the park and a modern state-of-the-art hospital in the place where the former Chief of Military Intelligence was headquartered on Kitante Road.
He recently acquired a huge chunk of land where Ssese Gateway was located on Entebbe Road where it is rumoured he plans to build a university. Sudhir also owns many commercial and residential properties in Rwanda, Southern Sudan, UAE and the UK.
Most of these properties are managed by Crane Management Services Limited, his own property management company.
His Crane Bank is Uganda’s second largest commercial bank, turning in an annual profit of over $40m. Affiliated to this is Crane Forex Bureau. Sudhir owns Speke Resort & Conference Centre Ltd (valued at over $150m); Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort Ltd, Speke Hotel, Kabira Country Club, Tourist Hotel; Speke apartments; Equator Rafts & Speke Resort, Bujagali and Sanyu FM.
His Rosebud Ltd is the country’s largest exporter of roses, commanding around 35% of Uganda’s rose export market.
He owns Kampala Parents School, a premium local primary school and Kampala International School of Uganda (KISU), a sprawling state-of-the-art international school. In 2013 he acquired Uganda’s Victoria University, promising to invest $10 million in the next few years to make it one of East Africa’s finest. He was born in Uganda but moved to the United Kingdom with his parents at age 16 after President Idi Amin expelled all Asians in 1972.
He worked small jobs in the U.K. and returned to Uganda in 1985 with $25,000 in savings. He started a commodities trading business and foreign exchange bureaus. His son and daughter, Rajiv and Meera occupy senior positions in his company.