From Gikomba Shop to Ksh 60B Net Worth: Nairobi Billionaire's Story

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Steel magnate Narendra Raval at a past event
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Steel magnate Narendra Raval at a past event

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step - and for Devki billionaire Narendra Raval - that journey began with a single shop in Gikomba.

Speaking to KTN News' Captains of the Industry, Raval disclosed that his dream of becoming a priest was halted after he married shortly after he came to Kenya.

The billionaire, who donates 50 percent of his salary to charity, narrated that after tying the knot, he had to find something to keep him busy and help him take care of his wife, and that's when they put up a shop in Gikomba.

"I was actually in the Temple, and I come from a priesthood background. I was doing Eschatology to survive, and the people called me Guru. When I was in the temple, and I got married, I could not serve anymore.

Devki Group of Companies founder Narendra Raval (right) fixes President Uhuru Kenyatta's tie
Devki Group of Companies founder Narendra Raval (right) fixes President Uhuru Kenyatta's tie.

"I went into business world and I started a small hardware shop in Gikomba, Nairobi, with my wife," stated Raval.

After running the shop for a while, the tycoon disclosed that he received an epiphany and was inspired to start an industry that could manufacture hardware products.

"That was the time I got an epiphany that I should be manufacturing the items that I sell in my shop," he added.

He opened the shop in 1990 using savings he had made from a previous job, and the company expanded gradually to include operations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. 

Forbes Magazine estimated the company's revenue at Ksh60 billion in 2018.

Despite his success, Raval has cut himself a laid back demeanor and in a recent interview with Business Daily, he disclosed that he never counts his own money.

"My money is not what I have in the bank. My money is the 6,500 people who work for me. My money is the oxygen that patients in hospitals are now breathing because we donated.

"My money is the food on plates of poor children. That is my wealth, not what I spend on myself or my company or my family," he explained.

In the 90s, the billionaire explained that he faced financial problems when he was looking to expand his industries.

"We were on the verge of closing down, and I was not able to pay my workers because I did not have the money... My workers helped me a lot, they supported me and I paid them after 4 months," he added.

When Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, Raval offered, through his industry, to donate oxygen tanks to various hospitals across the country.

He explained that he resorted to the charitable move after losing one of his engineers due to lack of oxygen.

"On February 29, one of my senior engineers was admitted to a hospital. He was there for five days and I was uneasy. I talked to him at 7:30pm on March 28. He passed away at 2:30am and it was because there was no oxygen.

"I thought that this must be happening to many Kenyans. I decided to close all my steel plants where I use oxygen and decided to give first priority to all hospitals free of charge," he recounted.

Raval also serves a Egerton University Chancellor after he was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019.

Below is the video:

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