PROFILE & BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia (65) is a self-made dollar billionaire entrepreneur. He was born in Uganda in 1956, but in 1972 together with his parents, had to relocate to the United Kingdom, following the then President Idi Amin Dada’s expulsion of Asians.
As a teenage refugee in London, the 16-year Sudhir once had to sleep on the freezing streets of Ilford High Street, in Essex near London. He then went on to work in a London Bakery where he had to pick up hot doughnuts out of the fryer and inject jam into them while they are still hot, but the red hands did not stop him from returning to work the next day.
Working through 2-3 jobs, by the age of 20 he had bought his first house in London. In 1985, he returned to Kampala, initially on a visit, but decided not to go back to London. Armed with just USD25,000 (about UGX65m) in savings, he together with his wife Jyostna, have through a series of greenfield investments, acquisitions, joint ventures, and expansions built the Ruparelia Group into an over $1.2 billion conglomerate with legs in East Africa, England and the Middle East.
Dr. Sudhir, who was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws, by the Uganda Pentecostal University in 2007, is also the Honorary Consul, of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal to Uganda.
Big on business, with a big heart too
The Group is invested in financial services, real estate, education services, hospitality, agriculture, and media/broadcasting amongst others and is to date, a major investor and one of the largest employers that provides a major source of livelihood, directly to over, 8,000 employees, many of whom are women.
The group is also one of the largest taxpayers. For example, Meera Investments his flagship real estate development agency has for 6 years in a row been recognized by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) as both the biggest and most compliant taxpayer in the real estate sector. In his own capacity, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia was also recognized as one of the largest contributors towards Individual Rental Income Tax for the financial year 2016/17.
Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia is not only big on business, but he also has a big heart. He is the Founder & Chairman of the Ruparelia Foundation through which group businesses are regular and substantial supporters of various community, national and individual causes. Some of the causes include healthcare, arts and culture, heritage and religion, environmental and wildlife conservation, agricultural research, education and talent development as well as sports. Since the Foundation was created, the Group has donated more than USD 1 million to several charitable causes. Individually and as a family, Dr Sudhir Ruparelia also participates in many philanthropic endeavors to alleviate poverty and hardship amongst disadvantaged members of Ugandan communities.
A prolific businessman, he is known for his being a results-oriented and people person business leader. It is these skills that have helped create No.1 brands in almost all the sectors/categories where he operates.
For example, Sudhit’d Hotels Speke Resort Hotel, Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort and Kabira Country Club Are some of Uganda’s largest and best hotels. The Speke Resort and Conference Centre and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort successfully hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007. Speke Resort is rated among the top 3 hotels in Kampala on Trip Advisor and has been awarded “Certificate of Excellence” by Trip Advisor for four consecutive years- 2015 – 2018. Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort won the Regional Luxury Hotel & Conference Award, while Speke Resort and Conference Center won in the Regional Luxury Lakeside Resort Category for East Africa in the 2020 World Luxury Hotel Awards. The World Luxury Hotel Awards recognises Global, Continent, Regional and Country Luxury Accommodation across 100+ different categories. The group is in the advanced stages of building, Speke Resort and Convention Centre, Entebbe- a 5-star luxury resort in Entebbe town.
In the Education Category, the Group’s Kampala International School ( www.kisu.com) is the largest and one of the best performing international schools in Uganda- with an installed capacity of 1,000 learners on their 14-acre purpose-built campus.
Kampala Parents’ School (www.kampalaparents.com) is also one of the best performing primary schools in Uganda, offering a domestic curriculum. The Group also owns Victoria University and Delhi Public School, International, Uganda (www.dpsuganda.com), probably the only international school offering the CBSE syllabus (Indian syllabus).
In the real estate sector, Meera Investments Ltd, the property development arm of the group, is the largest developer of commercial and residential space, in Kampala with over 400 properties in Uganda with a footfall of about 150,000 people- nearly 10% of Kampala’s daytime population.
In the agriculture/horticulture sector, Ruparelia Group’s Rosebud Ltd is Uganda’s largest flower farm and largest exporter controlling between 40-60% of the flower export market. The company produces 18 varieties of sweetheart and intermediate roses. Rosebud exports 150 million roses annually, mainly to Europe and has expanded from a 13-hectare farm in 2,000 to now over 60 hectares, all under greenhouses. Recently, Rosebud attained Fairtrade Certification.
SUDHIR’S AWARDS & RECOGNITION
- Honorary Doctor of Laws, from Uganda Pentecostal University
- Golden Jubilee Presidential Medal by His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda on 9th October 2013 for his contribution towards the economy of Uganda.
- Forbes Magazine, 24th Wealthiest Person in Africa, 2014
- Certificate of Appreciation by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in recognition of his contribution towards Individual Rental Income Tax for the financial year 2016/17
- East Africa Business Leadership Award by East Africa Book of Records (EABOR) Secretariat on 16th of November 2018.