By Prim Kembabazi
Careful financial planning, business shrewdness have made these families the wealthiest in Uganda. They have accumulated so much wealth, guarded it jealously and are always ready to pass it on to the next generation once the time comes. Here are the top richest families in Uganda.
1. Mukwano Family
They have been in the industrialization business for a long time. It all started back in the day when their father Ali Muhammad Karmali came to Uganda in 1904 and built a big empire for them. They have invested heavily in cotton, tea and coffee. The company name came from their founding father’s closeness with the people who called him “Mukwano Gwa Bangi” loosely meaning “friend of the masses” hence the name Mukwano. Mukwano has a group of factories that manufacture soap, toilet paper, process Tea leaves and many other products. They have expanded their business to Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi among other nations. Money flows in this family like the river Nile from Uganda to Egypt.
2. Madhvani Family
They got their wealth from their father Mujibai Madhvani. He was a prosperous businessman in the UK. They decided to invest heavily in Uganda. They are into lots of trading deals in the county. They deal in sugar and tea with a stake in Kakira sugar. They own several tourism businesses across the county. Green house farming is also on their business portfolio. They are into IT firms and software development for big companies.
3. Wavamuno Family
They are a household name in Uganda. Wavamuno owns shares in different businesses in Uganda making a huge fortune every year. The Wavanumo family is into real estate. They own Mercedes benz in Uganda. They are also into bottled water business. He has shares in Radio Simba and a top insurance company. All Wavamuno’s children are very successful with the likes of Elvis Sekyanzi making it big with their personal businesses. Gloria Wavamuno is also big on the international fashion scene. Sadly, they recently lost one of their businesses, WBS TV over unpaid tax arrears.
4. Sembule Family
They own Sembule Steel Rolling mills. They started from humble beginnings back in 1971. Founded by Christpher C. Sembuya and Lt Henry W. Buwule. The two were siblings. Their company has overtime become one of the leading wire-nail manufacturing companies in the country. They are also into banking, electronics, and insurance among others. After 30 years in the business, they have amassed so much wealth. In 2014, they got a bailout from government when business was not going on well.
5. Hajji Mutaasa Kafeero family
Hajji Mutasa’s wealth is estimated at a total of 20 Million USD. He is a Ugandan businessman from Bushenyi. He attended school at his father’s Primary School. Mutasa owns several arcades in the city including Mutasa Kafero Mall, Zainab Azia Emporium. He is also the owner of Hotel Triangle. He also owns several other properties in the city and in Jinja.
6. Sudhir Ruparelia Family
According to Forbes in 2015, he was the 27th wealthiest individual in Africa, with an estimated net worth of US$800 million. Ruparelia was born in Kabatoro, Kasese District in the Western Region of Uganda to an upper-middle-class Gujarati family. His great-grandfather reached Mombasa, Kenya in 1897 from India and set up a trading store there before coming to Uganda in 1903. His grandfather was born in Uganda in 1918 and his father in 1932.
He moved to the United Kingdom with his parents in 1972 at the age of 16, when the dictator Idi Amin expelled all Asians from Uganda. He returned to Uganda in 1985, with US$25,000 earned from several casual jobs including working in supermarkets, factories, and butcheries. Ruparelia started selling beer and spirits imported from Kenya. In 1989, beer importation was banned to encourage local brewing of alcohol and he realised he could not make beer. But since his customers, who were mainly foreigners, paid him in foreign currency, he started Crane Forex Bureau, the first in Uganda. With his profits, Ruparelia ventured into other businesses, including forming Crane Bank in 1995. Later, he organized his businesses under the umbrella of the Ruparelia Group.
Also on the list is Ssenseko Kulabya family, Cranimwer Kaaya, Mohan Kiwanuka, Musa Kasule Family, Aga Ssekalala Family, The Mehtas, Bumba Family and Mugaalasi Family.