Mohammed Dewji Biography
Mohammed Dewji was born on 8th May 1975 in Ipembe Tanzania, East Africa. He is a Tanzanian businessman, philanthropist, and former politician. He is the CEO of MeTL Group.
Mohammed Dewji Age And Family
Dewji was born on 8 May 1975 in Ipembe, Singida. He is 44 years as of 2019. He is the second of six children of [father] Gulamabbas Dewji and [Mother] Zubeda Dewji.
They are Twelver Shias whose ancestors left Gujarat, India in the late 1800s to become traders in East Africa. When Dewji was born, the family was still of modest means; Dewji was born with the help of a neighboring midwife in a house built from sand and mud.
Dewji attested that he almost died at birth due to having the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, a condition known as nuchal cord. By the time Dewji started school, his father had built a family shop into a thriving import-export company.
Mohammed Dewji Education Background
He attended Arusha Primary School for his primary education and continued his secondary education at the International School of Tanganyika (IST).
In 1992 Dewji was enrolled at the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy in Orlando, Florida, where Dewji also attended Trinity Preparatory School for 11th Grade. He moved for his last and final year of high school to the Saddle Brooke High School in New Jersey.
In 1998 he graduated with a Bachelors in International Business and Finance and a minor in Theology.
Mohammed Dewji Entrepreneurship
After graduating he assumed the management of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (METL), a commodities trading business founded by his father. After two years of working with the company, he became Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at MeTL.
In the early 2000s, when the Tanzanian government privatized loss-making companies, he acquired them inexpensively and turned them into profit centers by trimming personnel expenses. MeTL Group of Companies is the largest privately-owned conglomerate in Tanzania.
Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (METL)
MeTL Group has investments in manufacturing, agriculture, trading, finance, mobile telephony, insurance, real estate, transport and logistics, and food and beverages.
The group is conducting business in 11 countries and employs over 28,000 people with the aim to target over 100,000 people by 2021. MeTL’s operations contribute ~3.5% of Tanzania’s GDP.
Dewji is responsible for increasing MeTL’s revenues from $30 million to over $1.3 billion between 1999 and 2014.
Mohammed Dewji Political Career
In 2000 at the age of 25, he competed to become the Member of Parliament (MP) for Singida Urban. Despite winning the preliminary votes for the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) with an overwhelming majority, Dewji was deemed too young to hold the parliamentary seat.
In October 2005 he vied for Singida Urban constituency on Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party ticket and he won with a majority of 90 percent of the total votes.
And was sworn in as a Member of Parliament for Singida Urban constituency on 29 December 2005 a position he held for 10 years after which he resigned from politics in October 2015.
Mohammed Dewji Simba
Already Simba announced that Mohammed Dewji is the sole investor in the team and was expected to pump in Sh20 billion into the soccer giants. However, until now, Dewji is yet to pay the agreed amount of money to the club, awaiting the completion of recruitment of office bearers.
The exercise is currently in the final stage after job vacancies were advertised via the media. Simba SC followed all the procedures of securing new leadership structures before conducting the club’s general election as per the club’s new constitution endorsed by the government.
The club later publicly announced that interested investors should apply and Dewji was the only businessman who applied and won the chance. Simba chairman Sweden Mkwabi said they were yet to get official information from the government regarding the new condition of the minimum of three investors holding the 49 percent stake.
“As the club chairman, I am yet to receive any information from the government. So, at present, I cannot comment on the matter,” said Mkwabi over the telephone.
Meanwhile, the government has endorsed clubs to recruit 10 foreign players in the Mainland Premier League. Mwakyembe said the number would not affect local players’ development, but would rather stimulate the game development.
Mohammed Dewji Philanthropy
In 2014 he established Mo Dewji Foundation covering educational assistance, improving accessibility to basic needs such as water and healthcare and agri-business community projects.
In 2006, Mohammed Dewji founded the NGO Singida Yetu, with the vision of uniting Singida’s citizens, local government, civil society and the private sector in a collaborative partnership striving to improve the lives of people in the region.
In the decade following its inception, Singida Yetu spent more than one billion Tanzanian Shillings (TZS) on community service projects.
Mohammed Dewji Wife
In 2001, Dewji married Saira, his high school sweetheart with whom he has three children. The couple resides in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Dewji is a Shia Muslim from the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamat as known as the ‘Twelvers’ sect.
Mohammed Dewji Kidnapping
At approximately 5:35 am on 11 October 2018, Dewji was kidnapped and abducted by armed gunmen outside the Colosseum Hotel in Dar es Salaam, where he was arriving for a morning workout.
The kidnappers allegedly fired shots into the air before kidnapping Dewji and driving off with the billionaire. Despite Dewji’s wealth, he did not commonly travel with a security detail and had driven to the Colosseum gym on his own the morning of the attack.
By 13 October, at least 20 people had been arrested in the inquiry over Dewji’s disappearance. On October 15, the family held a press conference, where they offered one billion TZS (US$440,000) as a reward for information that would lead to his rescue.
At approximately 2:30 am on 20 October, Dewji called his family, saying that he was released at the Gymkhana grounds. At 3:15 am, a tweet was sent out on the METL Twitter account by Dewji, acknowledging his return and appreciation for the Tanzanian people’s support.
In a video release, Police Commissioner Lazaro Mambosasa was seen talking to Dewji, who acknowledged the efforts of the police; Mambosasa clarified that Dewji met them at his house and was not rescued by police.
He also reported that Dewji informed them that his kidnappers were speaking in a South African language. January Makamba tweeted that he had met Dewji and noticed rope marks on his hands and legs.
Mohammed Dewji Net Worth
According to Forbes, Dewji has an estimated net worth of US$1.54 billion in 2018 and is the 17th richest person in Africa and Africa’s youngest billionaire 2018.
He was the first Tanzanian on the cover of Forbes Magazine, in 2013 and has been featured on three separate occasions. November 2015, Dewji was recognized as the Forbes Africa Person of the year In his acceptance speech, he dedicated the award to the youth of Tanzania.
Mohammed Dewji Honours and Awards
♦ 2012: Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum
♦ 2014: 10 Most Powerful Men In Africa, Forbes Magazine
♦ 2014: African Philanthropist of the Year Award by the African Leadership magazine
♦ 2014: Top 100 of young economic leaders
♦ 2015: Recipient of Ahlulbayt TV Award for Excellence for contributions to the community
♦ 2015: Philanthropist of the Year Award for the East African region
♦ 2015: Business Leader of the Year Award by African Business Magazine
♦ 2015: Forbes Africa’s Person Of The Year 2015
♦ 2016: Choiseul 100 Africa 2016: Economic Leaders for Tomorrow
Mohammed Dewji Interview
During the 10 days that Africa’s youngest billionaire, Mohammed Dewji, was captured and held hostage in Tanzania, an extraordinary thing happened.
In an interview with the Brunswick Review, Mr. Dewji tells Brunswick Partner Craig Mullaney that the experience tempered his ambition for ever-mounting wealth and strengthened his commitment to philanthropy, especially in his native land,
You once joked about becoming the richest man in Africa. Is that really a goal?
If that ever was my agenda, it’s not now, after the ordeal I had.
What helped you get through that trial? How did it change you?
I was blindfolded for nine days with both my hands and legs tied. When you can’t see anything and you’re not sure what’s going to happen to you, it is tough. I was doing principally three things.
I was praying, may God save me. When you do that, you think, there are so many people dying in tragedies and accidents. Why would God want to listen to me? I’m just nobody. But even so, you pray, number one.
Besides my major in international business and finance, I’m also a theology minor. So number two, you start thinking about how you have sinned in this world. You might have hurt someone, insulted someone. Maybe you didn’t fast or pray on time. So I was repenting all the things I could have done better.
Number three, I reflected on what I should do differently. I’d been in the rat race, running all the time, accumulating wealth and trying to build and build and build.
I reflected on my kids. I have a 15-year-old. In three years, she’s going off to university. Last 10 years, I hadn’t spent an abundance of time with my kids. I’ve got two young boys. I wasn’t spending enough time with them.
Overall, the experience has made me a better person. As a Muslim, when you go through a difficult time, how do you know if God is testing you or punishing you? The answer is that what makes you closer to God is a test. What takes you away from God is a punishment. This experience brought me much closer to God.
My priorities are not just more dollars anymore. My priority is not just about building an empire anymore. I spend more time with my children. And I am deeply focused on giving back.
I signed the Giving Pledge [which encourages the world’s richest individuals to commit half of their wealth to philanthropy, launched in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett].
I’m spending more and more time on philanthropy. It’s changed me that way. Most importantly, if you followed the Tanzanian media, the Tanzanians, they stood up for me.
This is something that really, really touched me. I am forever going to be indebted and grateful to these people. Political differences often divide people. I’m not an indigenous Tanzanian, and that can divide people.
Religion can divide people. In Third World countries, the greatest division is between the haves and have nots.In a country where poor people are struggling to make ends meet.
There isn’t much thought for the rich, rich man who encounters a problem. But I’ll tell you something: Tanzania came to a standstill when I was kidnapped. I’m forever indebted to my countrymen.
Did it help that you have invested so much time in connecting to people through social media?
For sure. I feel that I need to be connected in the sense that I give hope to people. I’m the largest employer, after the government, in Tanzania. I need to act like a leader to the youngsters of Tanzania.
They need to know that I want to share this wealth I’ve accumulated. I bought a football club. It brings happiness to millions of people. And I think they know that that club is burning cash. It is burning a lot of cash. But it brings people closer together.
The ruling elite, the wealthiest people in any country, are often seen as remote. They’re caught by photographers as they walk from their limousine to their private plane. Has social media given everyone access to you?
Yes. But also, I’m very approachable. People randomly ask me for selfies and I never refuse. If somebody asked for advice, I would never refuse. Respecting people is very important. That is something that my parents taught me from a very, very young age.
Do you now travel with a security person?
Yeah, my life changed. I’m moving around with armed people all the time.
It must be inspiring for people here to see one of their own do as well as you have.
Yes. I think they also see that I am giving back and that opportunity is growing for everyone.
I gather from reading the local media that there’s also an appreciation for how well you dress.
It’s the only thing I do well. It’s something that grew on me when I was in the US. But actually, I think I dress normally for a business person except for my glasses. I have a fetish for glasses. People take note of that.
Do you see a new generation of billionaires emerging from Tanzania? I think that’s true not only in Tanzania but Africa in general. In the next five to 10 years, there’s definitely going to be more billionaires out of Tanzania and Africa.
What would you like the global business community to know about your nation’s economic potential?
It’s got eight countries neighboring it. It’s a corridor of eastern central Africa. From Tanzania, you can access Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the DRC, Malawi, and Mozambique.
We’re probably the fastest growing in terms of population growth in the world. We are rich with resources: gold, diamonds, agricultural products, coffee, sesame seeds. Iron, coal and natural gas. Tourism is huge.
We’ve got Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro. If you look at all the variables, they add up. Over the last 10 years, we’ve been one of the 10 fastest growing economies in Africa, with average GDP growth of 7 percent. Inflation is controlled.
Tanzania is one of the highest recipients of foreign direct investment in the whole of eastern central Africa. We’ve got political stability. Every five years, we have elections.
We’ve got a two-term limit for the president. After that, there’s a proper stepping down the process, a transfer of power. We have no racism. Our people are very, very good people. We don’t have any religious tension. Everybody practices their own religion freely.
Who are your heroes or mentors in the global business community?
I’ve got two heroes. I would not be where I am without my father. People have asked, “Who’s smarter, you or your father?” My father didn’t have money. My family didn’t. He is a self-made man. It is far more difficult to make a million than a billion.
It’s easier to multiply money than to make money out of nothing. At 70, this man is still very disciplined. He is my hero.
The other is Bill Gates. I’m trying to follow his footsteps. I want eventually to step down and just focus on philanthropy as Bill has. He came here once, to Tanzania, and we had a chat and we meet other times at the Giving Pledge, and I ask him questions about his transition and how he did it and what he’s doing.