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The CEO 100

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Rajiv Ruparelia comes of age; consolidates grip on family business

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TWO GENERATIONS OF RUPARELIAS: Billionaire businessman and founder of the Ruparelia Group, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia is slowly handing over the reigns to son, Rajiv Ruparelia (29). He is probably the youngest CEO of a multi million dollar empire.

On Sunday, 19th May 2019, the Ruparelia Group opened their iconic Kingdom Kampala Mall, but unlike in many other major Group milestones, there was one person missing- Dr Sudhir Ruparelia, the group’s founder and sharp-witted Chairman, since 1986.

Ordinarily, Sudhir, would have been on site and in control, putting everyone in order- but this time, he on 18th May 2019, chose to fly out to Europe for a holiday, to catch up with his buddies in London and then on to Yacht Club De Monaco in Monaco- a sovereign city-state on the French Riviera, also known as a “Billionaires Playground’ to catch up with the Monaco Grand Prix on May 22nd.

Instead, Rajiv Ruparelia, his son and apparent heir, was firmly in charge, ensuring that everything was moving like clockwork- from supervising the catering, to ensuring all the invited guests- many of whom included his father’s friends and business partners were well taken care of as well as addressing the press.

Mrs Jyostna Ruparelia a director of the Ruparelia Group and Mr Rajiv Ruparelia, Group Managing Director, together with friends and family cut the tape to officially launch the iconic Kingdom Kampala Mall. The construction project was overseen by Rajiv from start to finish!

When he did address the press, Rajiv easily spoke the real estate industry, the Ugandan economy and the future and neatly weaved in the role that the Ruparelia Group seeks to play in a fast-growing Kampala Metropolitan.

“We are glad to launch at this strategic time when Uganda is progressing in the oil and gas developments. We hope and believe the oil companies will reach the Final Investment Decision (FID) this year- that will stimulate extreme economic opportunities, in Uganda,” he told the media.  

Rajiv, also easily defended the Group’s development at a piece of land formerly occupied by Shimoni Demonstration Primary School, arguing that a modern city needs matching modern infrastructure to meet the needs of a fast growing population.  

 “Shimoni did its purpose; it is now time to develop the city into the modern metropolitan city that we all need,” he maintained, adding: “The city needs to grow and provide the necessary services for the people. As the middle class grows, they will need more and more office space and serviced apartments and other supporting infrastructure- we just need to develop our city,” said, a firm Rajiv, who looked at peace with the press.

Managing Director, Ruparelia Group

Born on January 2, 1990 Rajiv Ruparelia is only 29 years- but he has done it all.

Born in Uganda, he did his education in the United Kingdom at- Dragon School in Oxford and then Dean Close School.

Dr Sudhir Ruparelia and son, Rajiv Ruparelia arrive at the Commercial Court for a ruling in a case that the group brought against Sebalu & Lule Advocates, a city law firm. As Group Managing Director, Rajiv, has been key in group operations and strategy.

At the age of 17, in 2007, he chose business over education and opened his very first business- Club Sway, a youthful club on Kampala Road.

He would later close the club in 2010 to return to school, with some hard real-life lessons learnt.

He joined Regent’s University, London where he pursued a Bachelor’s of Business Administration, majoring in Financial Management. He graduated late 2013 and returned home.

In 2014, he joined the family business- but had to work his way up.  

This was not by accident- it is Sudhir’s way of doing things.

In a July 7, 2014 interview with CNN Money, Sudhir said that while it was important that family members join family-owned businesses to ensure continuity, it was always important that they get the appropriate mentorship first.

THE RUPARELIAS: A family group shot taken in August 2017, at Rajiv’s wedding in London, UK. 2017 was a double win for the young Rajiv; other than wedding his long-time sweetheart, Naiya Kaghram, Rajiv was also appointed Group Managing Director of the Ruparelia Group.

“I think it is important that when you have an ongoing business, you create a very good team of professional managers, and then at the same time, train your family to work with them, and then see how they can manage and move on,” he said at the time.

So, young Rajiv was deployed to the numerous group construction sites where he managed labourers and materials.  

Later on, he would pick keen interest and be mentored in design, planning, feasibility, and implementation of full developments for hotels, schools, retail, commercial and residential real estate.  

Between 2014 and 2017, Rajiv worked hard to deliver some major building projects such as Kampala Boulevard, Hardware City and Electrical Plaza Nakasero- all on time and on cost. He also, with some hand-holding from his father, kick-started other major projects such as Speke Apartments, Wampewo and at Kitante as well as the recently commissioned Kingdom Kampala Mall.

An artist’s impression of Bukoto Living- a residential real estate project being developed by Rajiv and his sister, Sheena Ruparelia from their own individual funds. The project is scheduled for completion in July 2020. The entire 27 apartments are for sale

Having proved the Ruparelia in him, he in 2017, at the age of 27, his father appointed him the Group Managing Director, Ruparelia Group to oversee the group’s 28 different businesses- ranging from financial services, real estate, education services, hospitality, agriculture and media/broadcasting.

In the same year, in August, he married his long-time fiancé Naiya Khagram in a lavish wedding in London, United Kingdom and Madrid, Spain; completing the transition from a boy, to a real man.

At 29 today, Rajiv is the youngest Managing Director, but possibly among the top 10 CEOs with the biggest portfolios last estimated by Forbes to be over $880 million in 2015.

Like father, like son

In true Ruparelia fashion, Rajiv is a businessman of his own, in every sense.

In 2018, he was instrumental in the setting up of Premier Recruitment- a private external labour recruitment company, to tap into the $1.24 billion (UGX4.5 trillion) industry.

He is the founder Chief Executive Officer.

PAPA BEAR AND HIS CUB: Dr Sudhir Ruparelia, introduces a young Rajiv to his friends and associates at one of the group’s events.

Just a few months after set up, he has already secured a number of employment contracts in the Middle East and on 19th January, 2019 the company sent their first batch of Ugandan girls to work in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on a two year contract.

On why he joined an industry that is outside the typical group stable of businesses, Rajiv told this reporter that the new labour externalization industry is about managing people, something he already is good at- since the group has over 8,000 employees.

He also argues that the sector is a vital source of livelihood for both the employees and their families and a major pillar of the economy that ought to be protected by all the stakeholders and bad apples weeded out.

Child artist, Fresh Kid, alias Patrick Ssenyonjo, poses with staff of Kampala Parents School and Naiya Ruparelia. Fresh Kid has earned himself a full education scholarship from Rajiv, through the Ruparelia Foundation.

“Uganda has a competitive advantage over a number of African countries because of our good English that we need to leverage just like our neighbours in Kenya. According to the World Bank and IMF Balance of Payments as well as Bank of Uganda data, personal remittances to Uganda have grown by 174.6% from $451.6 million (UGX1.66 trillion) in 2007 to $1.24billion (UGX4.5 trillion) in 2017, but our neighbours, Kenya raked in $1.962 billion (UGX7.2 trillion) in 2017 and $2.5 billion (UGX9.2 trillion) in 2018,” noted Rajiv, adding: “Diaspora remittances to Uganda are equivalent to 30% of Uganda’s traditional export earnings- $3.4bn (UGX12.5 trillion) in 2017 and $3.6bn (UGX13.2 trillion) in 2018 and almost 3 times bigger than coffee export receipts- $555.4m (UGX2 trillion) in 2017 and $436.4m (UGX1.6 trillion) in 2018. Protecting and harnessing more value from this vital sector should be the responsibility of everyone.”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Like his father, he has also maintained love for real estate.

He, together with his sister, Sheena Ruparelia, also a director in the Group are developing their own very first private residential real estate project- Bukoto Living.

Bukoto Living is a multimillion dollar project, consisting of 9 floors of 27 two, three, four and five bedroom units- all for sale.

WORK HARD, PLAY HARDER: Rajiv and wife Naiya (left) pose for a photo with Dr Sudhir Ruparelia on the occasion of unveiling Ruparelia Rally (RR) Team. Young Rajiv has jumped into motor rallying with a Volkswagen Polo WRC Proto Car

Located at the confluence of Bukoto, Naguru and Ntinda and only 150 meters from the main road, the units will be delivered by July 2020.

A 2 bedroom apartment with 160sqm of space goes for $168,000 while a 3 bedroom apartment with 200sqm of space goes for $210,000. A 4-bedroom apartment measuring 215sqm goes for $330,750 while a 5-bedroom apartment measuring 345sqm goes for $352,250.

Rajiv, also like father, has a warm heart and has participated in several charity causes- both as an individual and through the Ruparelia Foundation, the family’s charity arm.

The latest beneficiary of the group’s benevolence is child artist, Fresh Kid, alias Patrick Ssenyonjo, who will have his education catered for by Rajiv.

“I’m a true believer that people and systems drive a successful business,” he says of his management philosophy, on his LinkedIn profile.

The CEO 100

Meet Paddy Muramiirah, the man spearheading Crown Beverages’ aggressive comeback

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Muramiirah has grown Pepsi's turnover in Uganda by 52% from UGX228.7bn in 2016 to UGX347.9 billion at the end of 2018. During his time, profit has grown by 222% from UGX9.1 billion to UGX29.3 billion. He has reduced the sales gap between Pepsi and Coca Cola from a historic high of UGX154.7 billion in 2016 to UGX78.8 billion

Engineers; Mechanical Engineers at that, rarely make it to the top leadership levels, unless of course it is an engineering firm.

For brands in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) categories such as soft drinks or alcohol where the flamboyance and exuberance of the brands is one and the same with that of the brand guardians, the top jobs have often been reserved for marketers and sales people and every once in a while, CEOs with a finance background.

Not that there is anything wrong with the Engineers, but somehow, since the marketers are already customer facing, it is easy to keep it that way. In fact one, can in Jesus’ speak say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an engineer to become a star-performing CEO of an FMCG brand.

Such was the mythical pessimism that greeted Crown Beverages’ Paddy Muramiirah, when he was appointed Chief Executive Officer in November 2016.

Muramiirah has grown Pepsi’s turnover in Uganda by 52% from UGX228.7bn in 2016 to UGX347.9 billion at the end of 2018.

But Amos Nzeyi, the Executive Chairman and one of the company’s shareholders, knew better. While announcing Muramiirah’s appointment then, he said, that he had emerged the best from a number of applicants because of his “his leadership, immense experience and knowledge” in the carbonated soft drinks industry as well as his “strong track record.”

“Mr. Muramiirah has demonstrated throughout his career the ability to work successfully, designing and leading strategies which resulted in impressive value creation. And given his credentials, I am certain he will make a significant contribution to the role and create the next chapter of CBL’s story of success; Mr. Nzeyi said.

Crown Beverages is 100% Ugandan owned. Its range of carbonated soft drinks includes: Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Mirinda Fruity, Mirinda Orange, Mirinda Pineapple, Mirinda Green Apple, 7UP, Evervess Tonic and Nivana Water in four variants namely; Tangerine, Strawberry, still and sparkling. The products are available in returnable glass bottles and plastic/PET bottles

Creating value and the next chapter of CBL’s story of success

Muramiirah, a Mechanical Engineer by training, joined CBL in 2005 as the head of operations and rose through the ranks. He has also overseen the company’s aggressive production expansion throughout the years.

At the time Muramiirah becme CEO, CBL was year in, year out, losing ground to their archrivals, Century Bottling Company Limited the bottlers of Coca Cola. For example between 2013 and 2016, while Crown Beverages’  Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in sales turnover was 4%, Century Bottling was growing at an average 6%, thus widening the space and share of wallet gaps between the 2 cola archrivals who between them control an estimate 80% of the soda market in Uganda.

The confidence of a star-performing CEO

In 2013, while Century Bottling sold UGX302 billion worth of drinks, Crown Beverages sold UGX195.4 billion- a variance of UGX106.6 billion. Century made a UGX13 billion profit, while Crown made UGX15.4 billion. In 2014, the sales turnover gap widened to UGX115.1 billion, as Century sold UGX346.4 billion and Crown Beverages UGX231.3 billion. Both companies made UGX7.3bn in profit. 

(Left-Right): CBL CEO, PAddy Muramiirah, FInance State Minister, David Bahati and CBL CEO, Amos Nzeyi display the award

In 2015, Century sold UGX384.3bn while Crown turned over UGX240 billion- widening the market share gap by UGX144.3 billion. That year Crown made a trifle UGX 100 million in profit, while Century made a handsome UGX20.2 billion in net revenue- their highest in recent history, if not the highest ever!

In 2016, the year Muramiirah was appointed CEO, both companies slowed down in turnover- Century by .23% to UGX383.4 billion and Crown Beverages by 4.7% to UGX228.7- creating an even wider gap between the two companies’ sales turnover of UGX154.7 billion- the highest ever in the companies’ history in Uganda.

Crown however made a profit of UGX9.11 billion and Century UGX2.5bn.

Under Paddy Muramiirah, profit has grown by 222% from UGX9.1 billion to UGX29.3 billion.

Within the first few weeks on the job, Muramiirah oversaw the company’s biggest shakeup, letting go of several senior managers and went on to shock naysayers, by making a 28% come back in 2017 sales turnover to UGX291.8 billion while Coca Cola’s only grew 3% from UGX383.4 billion to UGX394.5- reducing the gap between the 2 companies from UGX154.7bn to UGX 102.7bn- the lowest in 5 years.

Profit also grew by 69% from UGX9.1bn to UGX15.4 billion. Coca Cola on the other hand had profits turn to losses- from a profit of UGX2.5bn in 2016 to a loss of UGX800 million.

2018 saw yet another good year for Crown Beverages- a 19% growth in turnover, from UGX291.8 billion in 2017 to UGX347.9 billion. Century on the other hand grew by 8% from UGX394.5bn to UGX426.7bn and as a result the gap between the 2 rivals further shrunk, this time to UGX78.8bn- a historic low in over 5 years.

Crown Beverages also had, their most profitable year to date- UGX29.3 billion in profit, up 90.3% from the previous year.

The smile of a champion

Thanks to this great performance, in June, 2019, the company won the PepsiCo Europe and Sub-Saharan African (ESSA) Bottler of the Year 2018 award. The company was also named the 1st Runner Up for the global PepsiCo Bottler of the Year award, beating over 200 other PepsiCo bottlers from all over the world.   

Speaking at the ceremony to mark the milestones, Mr. Amos Nzeyi, the Chairman CBL commended the company’s customers, staff, shareholders, partners and the government for their contribution to the success.  

“The journey has just started,” Mr. Nzeyi notified whoever cared to listen.

About Crown Beverages

Crown Beverages’ is a franchisee bottler for PepsiCo Inc. in Uganda that bottles a range of carbonated soft drinks that include: Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Mirinda Fruity, Mirinda Orange, Mirinda Pineapple, Mirinda Green Apple, 7UP and Evervess Tonic. The products are available in returnable glass bottles and plastic/PET bottles.

They also bottle Nivana water in four variants namely; Tangerine, Strawberry, Still and Sparkling.

The company is 100% Ugandan owned; by Amos Nzeyi, Chris Kayoboke and Prof Maggie Kigozi, who in 1997 bought a 51% stake from South Africa’s International Pepsi-Cola Bottler Investments and in  2001, acquired the remaining 49%.

The shareholders have since invested over $200 million (Ugx740 billion) in the business to date, creating the company into one of Uganda’s top 20 taxpayers. According to Muramiirah in a recent media interview, the company has between 2013 and 2018 paid a total of UGX284 billion in taxes.

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The CEO 100

Orient Bank’s Julius Kakeeto to head Post Bank

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(R-L): Julius Kakeeto, MD of Orient Bank Limited together with Alhaj Kaddunabbi Ibrahim Lubega, CEO Insurance Regulatory Authority, Herbert Mukoza, General Manager IAA and Arjun Mallik, MD Prudential East Africa on July 24, officially unveil Medilife, a new medical and life insurance cover for Orient Bank customers. Kakeeto has spearheaded a number of innovation at Orient Bank, that have contributed to the bank’s stable growth and return to profitability.  

Julius Kakeeto, formerly Orient Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, is set to head the troubled Post Bank, CEO East Africa Magazine has learnt.

Kakeeto is to replace troubled Managing Director, Steven Mukweli who is facing corruption charges at the Anti-Corruption Court. Mukweli along with 7 other senior officials at the government owned Post Bank were charged with abuse of office, causing financial loss and conspiracy to defraud their employer.

The officers are: Safina Wabuna, the Executive Director for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), David Mwesige, the Head of Information Technology, Augustine Kisitu, the Head of Business Technology and Emmanuel Mwaka, the Finance Manager. Also charged are: Alex Kayaayo (Executive Director for Credit and Business Growth), Fred Samuel Wasike (Head of Business Growth) and Gilbert Nuwamanya (Sales Manager).

CEO East Africa Magazine, understands that Kakeeto has already sent in this resignation at Orient Bank and a farewell message to staff and is serving his notice period.

A highly placed source at Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, under whose docket Post Bank falls, also confirmed to CEO East Africa Magazine that indeed Kakeeto is crossing over to Post Bank.

“Off the record, I can confirm that his name has been submitted to Bank of Uganda for approval,” said the source.

Section 54 of the Financial Institutions Act (2004) requires all bank board directors to undergo a fit and proper test, carried out by the Central Bank.

Who is Julius Kakeeto?

Little is known about the largely press-shy Kakeeto, but according to research done by this publication, he wields more than 19 years in banking.

Kakeeto turned around Orient Bank from a UGX13.3 billion loss in 2014, bring about 4 years of straight profits

The Alliance Manchester Business School (MBA, Finance) and Strathmore University (ACCA) alumni started his banking career at the Citi Group in London in September 2001 and rose to the VP Global Markets position in London before returning home as Finance Director at Equity Bank in September 2009, a role he did till May 2011 when he moved on to become Director of Business Development at Orient Bank. Betweeen October 2013 and July 2014, he briefly served as the Executive Director before being appointed substantive Managing Director in July 2014- a role he has served for 5 years and 2 months.

(L-R): Prof. Waswa Balunywa, Makerere University Business School Principal together with Mr. Julius Kakeeto, Orient Bank’s Managing Director at the launch of the 3rd annual Orient Business Academy aimed at equipping small Ugandan business owners with skills to enable them grow their businesses and ensure sustainability.

During his 5 years at the helm of Orient Bank, deposits grew by over 59% from the UGX388.1 billion he inherited to UGX618 billion by close of December 2018- a compounded annual growth rate of 10%. Lending grew by 147.5% over the 5 years from UGX135 billion in 2014 to UGX334.1 billion at end of 2018- an annual growth rate of 201%. Total bank asset book also grew by about 56% from UGX480.8 billion to UGX750 billion at end of 2019.

As a result he managed to turnaround the UGX13.3 billion losses he inherited in 2014, making a profit of UGX1.5 billion in 2015, UGX5.8 billion in 2016, UGX4.8 billion in 2017, closing 2018 with a UGX5.6 billion profit.

Little is known about his package at Post Bank but at Orient Bank, his monthly salary was a reported UGX44,580,000.

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The CEO 100

Geologist, Proscovia Nabbanja appointed as UNOC caretaker CEO

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Nabbanja, a geologist has been COO at UNOC and wields a combined 19-years’ experience in oil & gas. A Makerere university alumni, she holds an Msc (Petroleum Geoscience) and MBA both from the Imperial College Business School, London.

Proscovia Nabbanja, the Chief Operating Officer at the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) has been appointed by the board as the interim caretaker CEO.

Wholly owned by the Government of Uganda, UNOC is a limited liability company whose prime purpose is to handle the Government of Uganda’s commercial interests in the petroleum sector and to ensure that the resource is exploited in a sustainable manner.

Nabbanja steps into the shoes of Dr. Josephine Wapakabulo who resigned in May this year over- what she said was the need to focus on family and pursue new opportunities.

Considered an insider, Nabbanja has been part of Uganda’s baby-steps in oil & gas and has matching education qualifications to match the job. Chances are that she will be confirmed as the substantive CEO

Some insiders however say although Dr. Wapakabulo was an engineer by background, with a PhD in Information Science from Loughborough University and a Global Executive MBA from the prestigious                

Institut Européen d’Administration des affaires (European Institute of Business Administration) INSEAD, she was seen by many of the oil & gas experts at UNOC, many of whom were part and parcel of oil & gas story and history, as an outsider and imposed upon them by president Museveni.

This resistance could have fast-tracked her self-ejection.  

Who is Nabbanja?

Nabbanja has been in the COO role at UNOC since November 2016.  

Before that, she served as a geologist at the Petroleum Exploration Development and Production (PEPD) of Ministry of Energy for 15 years, rising to the level of Principal Geologist, a role she held between April 2015 and October 2016.    

A holder of Bachelor of Science in Geology & Chemistry from Makerere University, Nabbanja also holds an Msc, Petroleum Geoscience from the Imperial College London as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Imperial College Business School.

She also holds a Diploma in Management of Petroleum Operations and Development from PETRAD Norway.

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