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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

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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The CEO 100

Who is Mariam Nampeera Mbowa, the new Tullow Oil Uganda boss?

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Mariam Nampeera Mbowa is a seasoned oil & gas lawyer with a 24 year experience in the business

CEO East Africa Magazine, has confirmed that after 7 years at Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Limited, Jimmy Mugerwa leaves for London, where he has been reportedly appointed Group Director for Infrastructure and Organisation.

In his place, industry sources say, Mariam Nampeera Mbowa, a seasoned Ugandan oil & gas lawyer with over 24 years’ experience in the business, has been appointed as Managing Director.

Mugerwa, joined Tullow in August 2012 from Kenya Shell Ltd where had worked for 4 years and 10 months as Country Chairman/Sales Operations and GM for East Africa. Before Kenya, Mugerwa, who started his career at Shell Uganda in 1994, served in various roles in Ghana and at the Shell Africa office, rising to the Senior Regional Advisor, Sub-Saharan Africa between August 2007 and December 2009. While in Kenya he also worked as Director at the Petroleum Institute of East Africa

Jimmy Mugerwa, speaks at the farewell party of dfcu Bank’s former Managing Director, Juma Kisaame. His tenure as dfcu Board Chairman was overshadowed by dfcu’s controversial takeover of Crane Bank.

In Uganda, Mugerwa has been serving as Non-Executive Director at East African Breweries Limited as well as Chairman/Non-Executive Director at Dfcu Bank. His days at dfcu Bank were overshadowed by the controversial takeover by dfcu Bank of troubled lender Crane Bank- process that was recently found to be flout with several irregularities by a Parliamentary probe Committee.

Dfcu faces several multibillion shilling law suits as a result of the acquisition.

Trailblazer and one of a Ugandan few oil and gas lawyers

When CEO East Africa Magazine reached her by telephone regarding the appointment, she declined to comment.

“I can’t comment. I can’t comment for now,” she said on the phone.

Jimmy Mugerwa was unreachable by phone and he did not respond to our WhatsApp messaging inquiries by press time.

However, from industry sources, Mariam is an experienced oil and gas lawyer, very familiar with corporate and commercial law as well as the legal and regulatory issues across the oil and gas business value chain- upstream, midstream and downstream. 

She is the first female chief executive in an all-male dominated oil & gas majors troika, consisting of Tullow Oil, CNOOC and Total SA- but certainly no stranger.

Until her appointment, Mariam has been working as General Counsel-East Africa since May 2015- where she headed the Tullow Uganda and Kenya legal Teams, to “enable proactive resourcing and risk management of legal issues relating to Tullow’s Uganda and Kenya Business Units”, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She was also the team leader on “all material legal and compliance risk issues impacting the Ugandan and Kenyan business units.”

In that capacity, she also doubled as a Director on the Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Limited Board.

As Uganda moves closer to oil production, Tullow Oil will be counting on Mariam’s domestic, regional and global expertise in upstream, midstream and downstream operations to bring the prize home.

Before that, the she was the Regional General Counsel-Uganda- from January 2011 to May 2015. In that capacity she dealt with a number of issues especially the management of the Joint Venture between Tullow, Total E&P and CNOOC.

Before Tullow Oil, she worked for over 12 years within the Shell International BV family in various capacities and in a number of jurisdictions.  

At Shell she started out as Company Secretary and Legal Advisor- at Shell Uganda Limited, between June 1998 to September 2003 and then headed to Brunei where she was a Senior Legal Advisor for 2 years at Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd. She then headed to Shell International BV headquarters in the Netherlands as Legal Counsel, Gas & Power for slightly over 3 years.

From here, she got appointed Legal Counsel at Shell International Exploration and Production BV where she was assigned to the Shell Development Kashagan BV (the entity tasked to engineer, develop and construct facilities to bring phase II of the Kashagan field in the North Caspian Sea to full commercial oil and gas production.  

The Kashagan project involved a consortium of seven international oil companies and the National Oil Company of Kazakhstan. Her major role, involved managing and advising on licensing, regulatory and legal issues arising out of the North Caspian Sea Production Sharing and Joint Operating Agreements.  

As Uganda moves closer to oil production, Tullow Oil will be counting on her domestic, regional and global expertise in upstream, midstream and downstream operations to bring the prize home.

Perhaps a change in management could also warm up Tullow Oil’s planned sell of their 21.57% in Ugandan exploration areas to Total SA, a move that has overly delayed.

Before Shell, she worked as Legal Officer at Uganda Petroleum Company Limited (formerly Mobil Oil Uganda), between 1994 and June 1998,

Mariam holds Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Makerere University and Masters of Law, Commercial and Corporate Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She also holds a Diploma, in Petroleum Policy and Management from PETRAD-Stavanger, Norway as well as a Diploma in Legal Practice, from the Law Development Centre in Makerere.

She went to Stella Maris Boarding Primary School, Nsuube and then Kibuli Senior Secondary School where she completed her Uganda Advanced Certificate in Education (A-level). She is married Professor Swaibu Mbowa, a Makerere University Agricultural Economics don and a Research Fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC). 

She is an advocate of the High and Supreme Courts of Uganda.

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The CEO 100

CEO OF THE MONTH: A tale of Fabian Kasi’s 9 years at Centenary Bank and the making of Uganda’s 2nd largest bank

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Fabian Kasi, under whose 9 years of leadership, Centenary Bank, has emerged as Uganda's second largest bank with 11.3 percent market share

Centenary Bank’s soft-spoken Managing Director, Fabian Kasi, this August, starts his 10th year at Centenary Bank- 10 years of impressive growth, whichever way you look at it.

Kasi, was among the first crop of indigenous CEOs to head the top 10 banks in the late 2000s- previously, a preserve of foreigners- mainly Kenyans. At the time, he became CEO in 2010, he was one of only three Ugandan CEOS of the top 10 banks- the other being Juma Kisaame (dfcu) and Nicholas Okwir (Housing Finance Bank).

Thanks to him and other good performing Ugandan CEOs, who broke the glass ceiling, today there are five Ugandan CEOs of the top 10 banks, but perhaps more importantly, the top three banks are all led by Ugandans.

Other than Centenary Bank, the No.2 bank, Stanbic Bank, Uganda’s largest bank is headed by Harvard alumni Patrick Mweheire and dfcu Bank, in the 3rd position is headed by Mathias Katamba.

Just like Kasi, Katamba is also a home-grown CEO, who rose through the ranks and different banks.

Unlike the two other banks, Centenary Bank is also majority Ugandan owned- 70.1%.  The Registered Trustees of 19 Catholic Dioceses in Uganda (38.5%), the Registered Trustees of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (31.3%) and 4 other Ugandan individuals own 0.4%.

ALSO READ: Money men: The 8 gentlemen who control 77% of Uganda’s banking industry https://www.ceo.co.ug/money-men-the-8-gentlemen-who-control-77-of-ugandas-banking-industry/

Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu, the economist board Chairman of the bank, for now over 10 years, has superintended the bank’s growth.

The remaining shares are owned by SIDI- Solidarite’ Internationale pour le Development et l’Investissement (International Solidarity for Development and Investment) based in France that owns 11.6% and STICHTING HIVOS-TRIODOS FONDS, an investment fund, specializing in investing in microfinance and trade finance, managed by Triodos Investment Management in the Netherlands, owns 18.3%.

From fourth to the second largest bank in Uganda  

During the 9 years of Fabian’s reign the number of customers, has grown by 63.4% from 1,003,295 that he inherited in 2010 to 1,639,602 customers at the end of 2018- a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6%.

The number of branches has also grown from 48 in 2011 to 73 at the end of 2018, backed up by 179 ATMS at 132 locations across the country.

Fabian has also embraced digital banking and has over the last 5 years invested heavily in digital banking with a view to decongest the banking halls and ATMS- which is perhaps one of the bank’s greatest undoings.

Beatrice Lugalambi, the good-natured General Manager, Business Development and Marketing, who arrived at the bank in 2011, a year after Fabian Kasi, is one of the brains behind the bank’s aggressive marketing and brand presence. She has put her nearly two decades of banking, behind some of the industry’s biggest marketing campaigns.

In October 2015, the bank launched its flagship Centemobile banking platform that enables clients to transact and access banking services on their mobile phones, whenever and wherever they are, as long as there is network coverage. The platform by end of 2018, had 701,801 registered customers of which 144,192 were active with 1,268,833 transactions by end of December 2018- accounting for 30.1% of the bank’s transactions.  

The bank also closed 2018 with 2,404 registered banking agents all over the country.

ALSO READ: Earnings of CEOs and Executive Directors of 23 of 24 of Uganda’s banks: https://www.ceo.co.ug/exclusive-earnings-of-ceos-and-executive-directors-of-23-of-24-of-ugandas-banks/

These innovations and an aggressive expansion strategy, has seen customer deposits grow 4 times or 261.8% from UGX630.8 billion in 2010 to UGX2.3 trillion in 2018- an annual compounded growth rate of 16.4%.

Growth in deposits, has facilitated a 261.8% growth in lending from UGX395.8 billion to UGX1.53 trillion in the same period- allowing the bank whose 75% of income is derived from interest income, to grow by 200.4%, from UGX189.1 billion in 2010 to UGX568.2 billion at the end of last year.                                                                                                                Profitability over the 9 years has also grown by nearly four times or 266.1%, from UGX29.4 billion in 2010, to UGX110 billion in 2016, declining minimally to UGX100.1 billion in 2017 and closing 2018 at UGX107.6 billion. Overall, profits have grown by an average 15.5% annually- above the industry average.               

Centenary Bank’s profits have grown by an average 15.5% annually over the 9 years

The bank’s asset base has as a result also grown by nearly 4 times or 292.8%, from UGX807.2 billion in 2010 to UGX3.2 trillion in 2018- an annual CAGR of 16.4%.

This impressive growth, led by an all Ugandan trio- Fabian, together with Simon Kagugube, the Executive Director and Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu the board chairman for the 9 years, has seen Centenary Bank move from the fourth largest bank by assets- UGX807.2bn and 7.12% market share in 2010 to the second largest bank with UGX3.2 trillion and 11.3% market share at the end of 2018.

To put this into perspective, by end of 2018, Centenary bank was larger than the Ugandan asset base of 11 banks at the bottom of the chain combined i.e. Ecobank, United Bank for Africa, Tropical Bank, Exim Bank (Formerly Imperial), NC Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Finance Trust Bank, Bank of India, Commercial Bank of Africa, Cairo International Bank and ABC Capital Bank.

The 11 banks together had UGX2.6 trillion in assets.

The bank’s board of directors. Eight of the eleven board members are Ugandan, breaking the stereotype that Ugandans can’t lead big growth. Centenary Bank is one of the few majority Ugandan owned and led banks.

The bank has also jumped from the fourth biggest deposit taker- UGX630.8bn and 7.82% market share in 2010, to become the second biggest deposit taker, receiving UGX2.28 trillion and 11.7% of industry deposits at the end of 2018.    

At the end of 2018, Centenary, had also grown from being the fifth biggest lender with UGX395.8bn loan book and 7.32% market share in 2010 to become Uganda’s second biggest lender with UGX1.52 trillion lent out, translating into 12% market share.

As a result, the bank has also moved from being the fourth most profitable bank- UGX29.3bn and 10.3% market share in 2010 to the second most profitable bank with UGX107.6 billion or 14.3% of industry profitability.

But who is Fabian Kasi?

Fabian has been a banker almost all of his working life.

He started as a Banking Officer at Bank of Uganda in 1992. After eight years, he briefly worked as a Director of Finance & Administration at Finca Uganda, a global microfinance organisation, before heading out to Rwanda’s Banque Commerciale du Rwanda (BCR) as CFO.

LEFT-RIGHT: Mr Kamal Budhabhatti, Chief Executive Officer, Craft Silicon and Fabian Kasi, at the April 2018 launch of CenteMobile Loans, a self-service opt-in product, that allows customers to borrow up UGX 2 million instantly. The service was developed in partnership with Craft Silicon. Centenary Bank is the leading micro-lender. By the end of 2018, 94,035 customers had accessed CenteMobile Loans.

After just 9 months in Rwanda, he was appointed the Managing Director for Finca a job he held for 8 years and 3 months.

He was appointed Centenary Bank Managing Director in August 2010.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Accounting from Makerere University, as well as an MBA from the University of New Castle in the UK.

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