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What You Didn’t Know About Senior Driver Rajiv Ruparelia As He Gears Up for Pearl of Africa Rally

Around 2019, headlines went, “Sudhir’s son Rajiv joins MotorSport”. Many people thought Rajiv, son to billionaire Sudhir Ruparelia, was joining the sport for fun, or, possibly, spend some cash from the wealth his father, has grown over the years.

However, he has proved naysayers wrong. His passion, commitment, consistency, and pursuit of excellence in motorsport, finally paid off last weekend with being crowned, champion of the Kabalega rally in Hoima.

Rajiv, who always came close to winning different rallies, but crashed out for one reason or the other, this time round, emerged winner without glitches.

Rajiv had a dream two years ago, to beat top rally drivers in the country and possibly conquer East Africa, and Africa before the world.

Rajiv cruising in a motorsport race

This first dream came true last year in November when he won the fifth round of the National Rally Championship (NRC).

Motorsport is not just a sport for Rajiv, as he creates his own man in business and sports. Rajiv, who is managing director of his family business conglomerate, the Ruparelia group, proved that he is a man who is focused on his goals. And that he is a winner, a fearless fighter, and that never gives up.

Rajiv is also likely to expand his father’s business empire with his diverse interests in music, sports, farming, labor export, among other things.

Rajiv on his first NRC Win

Recently, the businessman unveiled a music label and a recording studio known as Night Shift studios. Night Shift studio, according to Rajiv, aims at scouting for music talent all over Uganda and giving budding musicians an opportunity to record songs.

Prior, he has shown interest in growing medical cannabis. Rajiv is also behind labour export company Premier Recruitment which takes workers to among others Dubai.

But Who is Rajiv?

Born in Uganda on January 2, 1990, Rajiv, a graduate of Financial Management from Regents College London.

He is currently serving as the Managing Director of the Ruparelia Group and he is responsible for developing sound business strategies and delivering strong leadership across the group.

Ruparelia Group-a multi-billion empire runs a string of businesses in real estate, hospitality, finance, education among other sectors.

As a member of the Board of the Ruparelia Foundation, Rajiv is in charge of the general welfare department and fervently works towards promoting sports in the country explaining his love for motorsports, golf, and rugby.

Rajiv, wife Naiya and fans celebrating Kabalega rally victory at Kabira Country Club last year

Starting his first business:

“I started my first business when I was 17 and still at school (invested in a nightclub),” Rajiv recalls.

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In 2010, Rajiv decided to join Regents University where he graduated in 2013 in financial management.

He later joined the family business in 2014. He started by being on construction sites by managing labours and materials.

“Later I started getting into the design, planning, feasibility, and implementation of full developments (hotels, schools, universities, offices, apartments, farms, shopping malls, arcades). Once developed would then participate in setting up of the management and putting the right team together to operate the various business,” the 31-year-old businessman says.

“Finally got appointed as the managing director in 2017 of Ruparelia Group of companies handling 28 different businesses with an extremely talented team.”

As Ruparelia Group Managing Director, Rajiv says he loves what he does and that he is a true believer that people and systems drive a successful business.

Board of Directors of Victoria University Dr Sudhir Ruparelia and Rajiv Ruparelia

“We all have 24 hours in a day but when you run institutions and businesses, you have to also create systems that govern them and follow them up personally. There is not one thing that I do not follow up and I have people whose job is to make follow-ups and make sure that reports are given to me for authorization,” Rajiv asserts.

Growing up in the Ruparelia household:

My dad was very loving, but I think my mum [Jyotsna Ruparelia] played a big role in our upbringing. She would drop us at school, check what we have studied, take us for sports, organize for us cooking lessons and science experiments at home…

I have two elder sisters, Sheena and Meera. Sheena heads our hotel group, while Meera is married [to Ravi Kotecho] and is successful running one of the top five sugar trading companies in Kenya.”

Rajiv’s dad Sudhir has been supportive to him

I started at the International School of Uganda (ISU) but my dad wanted a British education for us; so, he took me to Kabira International School Uganda [a Ruparelia Group school] where I studied until I was nine. At that point, most of my friends left to study in Kenya and I wanted to follow them but my mum refused and said they were taking me to Britain because that is where my sisters were.

I went to Dragon School in Oxford and that is where I fundamentally changed. By the time I left, I was first in football, rugby, captain of the golf team, and second team of tennis.

After I went to Haileybury and that is where my education got interesting, because I got suspended.

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We had a fight with some kid who was being racist towards Ugandans and blacks. I come from a country where I believe I may not be black, but my heart and senses I am Ugandan and I would protect that image anywhere in the world. When he said whatever he said, me and another kid from South Africa wrestled him down and while we were still at it, the teacher walked in. Because we knew we were going to be suspended anyway, we just went on.

I am not proud of those moments and I don’t encourage people to do that, but I encourage them not to let others walk all over them. My dad has told me never to start a fight, but also to make sure I finish a fight when it comes my way.

I think my parents were scared to bring me back home. They were worried I would lose humility here because we are rich. You see, in England, you are nobody. No matter who you are or where you come from and that humbles us.

I obtained my degree in Business Administration though I didn’t like the course [he preferred finance and banking]. I found it boring because I am dyslexic and struggle to read and write long essays and that really made me anxious. After graduating, I came back to Uganda and started working.

Starting off with Ruparelia Group:

The motor rally champion was already working during his holidays, whenever he came back from school.
“I used to go to construction sites and Kampala Parents School was my first project when we were doing the expansion plan. We were also building the CMI headquarters in trade for the Shimoni land we had got.” He told Desert Island discs.

Meeting his wife Naiya:

Rajiv met his wife Naiya at a revision camp. At the time he was about 17 and they never met again until he was 22. He says they started hanging out in London, and things evolved from there.
The couple now has a child together.

Where does Rajiv see himself in the next 10 to 20 years?

Rajiv says he wants to continue growing this business.
“One of the businesses we want to get into is the growth of medical cannabis. We have applied for licenses and continue pushing the government to issue them to us.”


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