Dr Sudhir Ruparelia is arguably Uganda’s richest man and one of East Africa’s wealthiest businessmen. His Ruparelia Group, comprising over 28 companies, has tentacles in real estate, financial services, education services, hospitality, horticulture, media/broadcasting and most recently, labour externalization.
But he wasn’t born rich- he is your basic started-from-the-bottom-now-we-are-here businessman. From being a 17-year-old student, he suddenly found himself on London streets looking for a job, after President Idi Amin had expelled Ugandans of Asian origin in 1972. After failing to join the UK’s Royal Armed Force, he did several jobs, including being a supermarket attendant and a cab driver as he juggled his studies until he finished High School.
In 1985, he returned to Uganda armed with about $25,000 in savings and since then, he has never looked back. Through a series of greenfield investments, acquisitions, joint ventures and expansions he, with the support of family, has grown the Ruparelia Group into a well over USD1.2 billion conglomerate and still growing.
“When President Idi Amin chased Asians away in 1972, I left for the UK. I did various casual jobs in factories, supermarkets, butcheries and many other odd jobs while studying in the evening until I finished my A’level. I made some good money and bought my first house in the UK as early as 1975. I continued working and living there until 1985 when I returned to Uganda.” said Sudhir in an interview.
In 1985 after the overthrow of the then ineffective government of the time by the National Resistance Army (Movement), Uganda became politically stable and in the same year, Sudhir returned to his dream home and started from scratch. He started as a shopkeeper who imported alcohol and wines from Kenya and sold them in Uganda which became his first lucrative business until he started a forex bureau, Crane Forex Bureau which he later transformed into Crane Bank by 1995. After many years of patience and trustworthiness, Sudhir succeeded in building the mega-million-dollar empire we see today.
The Ruparelia Group of Companies, commonly known as Ruparelia Group, runs a chain of heavy investments in Real Estate, Insurance, Banking, Education, Broadcasting, Hotels and Resorts, Floriculture and many other ventures.
The most impressive investments of the Ruparelia Group are in the real estate, tourism and hospitality sectors which have been business hubs and tourist hangout places with world-standard services.
These hotels and resorts include; Speke Apartments, Speke Resort and Conference Center, Munyonyo Common Wealth Resort, Kabira Country Club, Dolphin Suites, Tourist Hotel and Forest Cottages and Speke at Bujagali Falls.
While officiating at the commemoration of World Tourism Day in Kampala, the Uganda Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Right Honorable Thomas Tayebwa applauded Sudhir for investing in Uganda, especially the Tourism and Hospitality sector.
“I know people who have been calling Dr Sudhir to go and develop their countries. I know many, some of them were asking me, but this Sudhir man what did you give him as Uganda? The man has a lot of money and we would like him to come and invest in our areas,” he revealed.
“So chairman, I want to thank you and your team of investors who have looked at Uganda as your number one destination for investment,” Tayebwa said. He pledged the government’s support to investors in Uganda.
Other investments under Ruparelia Group include; Premier Recruiting Limited, Goldstar Insurance Company, Premier Roses Limited, Meera Investments Limited, Sanyu FM and many other investments in real estate, construction, banking and education.
“This is how I define success. My success is when I see that I started a project, I created employment for people and at the same time, the people who are using my establishments are also making money from it. That is my success,” says Sudhir.
His business empire employs tens of thousands of Ugandans, in a country where jobs are extremely scarce and young people struggle to learn to live.
The Ruparelia Foundation is currently credited for its social responsibility as it has embarked on giving back to the community through outreaches to orphanages, sponsoring sports activities, and health camps. The Ruparelia Foundation gives back to the community at the end of every year and calls for joint action from the public. Through its various stakeholders, the foundation has been able to carry out more than 600 hundred interventions in supporting communities in different aspects deemed necessary based on community needs.
Victoria University, which is one of the major investments in Uganda’s education sector owned by Sudhir, provides hundreds of scholarships to students every year.
According to a Forbes list released in January 2021, Sudhir had an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion making him the wealthiest Uganda and the entire of East Africa. His boundless courage and motivation of building Uganda make him an accomplished business magnate whose investment potential powers Uganda’s economy.
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