Naushad Merali: Sameer Tycoon Who Made Ksh1.6 Billion in 1 Hour

  • Sameer Africa Chairman Naushad Merali
    Sameer Africa Chairman Naushad Merali
  • Naushad Merali was a man of many firsts in Kenya where his family had settled from Gujarat, India.

    The billionaire was born on January 2, 1951, in Nairobi, Kenya and attended Highway Secondary School in the capital. 

    Merali was once reported to have made Ksh1.6 billion in just an hour due to his sharp business mind.

    The Tycoon who died on Saturday, July 3, was a renowned businessman and he had been featured countless times on the Forbes list as one of the richest people in Africa.

    File photo of First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Sameer Africa founder Naushad Merali
    File photo of First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Sameer Africa founder Naushad Merali

    By the year 2000, Merali owned 40% of telecom giant Airtel (then known as KenCell Communications), with French firm Vivendi owning the rest.

    When his business partner decided to call it quits in 2004, Merali convinced his partner Vivendi who had the majority shares to sell him their 60% stake for Ksh 230 billion. 

    An hour later, Merali sold the 60% stake to billionaire Mo Ibrahim's Celtel with a profit margin of Ksh1.6 billion.

    He first debuted on the annual Forbes ranking of Africa's richest in 2011 and was featured on the coveted billionaire's list five times before his death on Saturday.

    In 2015 he ranked 3rd richest in Kenya and 48th in Africa with a net worth of Ksh37 billion. In 2014 Merali was ranked 2nd richest in Kenya with a net worth of Ksh55 billion while the Forbes 2013 ranking had him as the 2nd richest person in Kenya with a net worth of Ksh43 billion.

    According to Forbes ranking, the Sameer Africa Chairman was the second richest Kenyan with a net worth of Ksh41 billion and he was named the third richest person in Kenya with a net worth of Ksh21 billion in 2011.

    In 2019 Merali made headlines after it emerged he was conned Ksh10 million by someone posing as President Uhuru Kenyatta. The Sameer Group Chairman got a call from 0722 ****42 and the caller identified himself as President Kenyatta.

    According to court documents, the caller had a similar voice and tenor as the President. The caller wanted Sameer chairman Merali to give facilitation fees so that 'State House’ would assist in the purchase of a piece of land.

    However, Merali was not in the country so he directed Sameer Africa Finance Director Akif Hamid Butt to process the money only to later find out that he had been duped.

    The Sameer Group is a conglomerate of 15 Kenyan companies that range from financial services to agriculture and even information technology. 

    According to a report dated 2014, the Sameer Group subsidiaries include, but are not limited to the following companies Sasini Tea & Coffee, Sameer Agriculture & Livestock Limited in Kampala, Sameer Industrial Park Limited, Sameer Business Park Limited, Sameer Africa Limited. 

    Formerly "Firestone East Africa Limited Ryce East Africa Limited, Yansam Motors Limited, Swift Global Kenya and Kenya Data Networks.

    Other subsidiaries are Infocom Limited in Kampala, Eveready East Africa, Ryce East Africa, Equatorial Commercial Bank, Equatorial Investment Bank, Savanna Coffee Lounge and VLCC East Africa, a joint venture with VLCC of India.

    Merali also owned Kenya Data Networks but later sold in a deal estimated to be worth Ksh5.2 billion. Before building his vast empire the businessman was the director of the now-defunct Kenya Tea company.Merali held senior roles at the Kenya Export Promotion Council, the International Who's Who of Professionals, and the National Investment Council of Kenya.

    Kenyan Presidents have appointed him to positions such as membership in the Kenya Export Promotion Council, membership in The National Poverty Eradication Commission of Kenya, and membership in The Presidential Committee on Employment.

    In 2011 was among three Kenyan delegates invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

    His wife Zarina is a director for the Kenyan Paraplegic Organisation. The two also run charity organizations that support various schools and hospitals in the country.

    During Evans Kidero's tenure as Governor of Nairobi, the administration named a road in Lavington after Naushad Merali.

    Sameer Africa founder Naushad Merali during a board meeting in Nairobi in May 2014.
    Sameer Africa founder Naushad Merali during a board meeting in Nairobi in May 2014.
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