There is a common notion which says that there is a league of unknown African philanthropists who opt to shun public giving, more often preferring to give anonymously due to some mythical personal or spiritual reasons. While that is yet to be verified – but can be believed nonetheless, there are revenue-raking entrepreneurs in Africa who have taken it upon themselves to give back to the people without expecting interest in return, and doing so to the full glare of the public eye.
Almsgiving is a hot topic in some African countries, particularly in Nigeria where the high and mighty are supposed to do their bit to better the standard of living in the nation. But based on Africa as a whole, here are five immensely wealthy businesspersons who have shown over the years that they are indeed generous.
A man that hardly requires an introduction; audacious, business-inclined, the richest black man and multi-interested magnate to name but a few. Rated to be Africa’s most generous in recent years – to no one’s surprise based on his net income – Dangote has helped his country in many ways. The most prominent of them was in November 2012, when he announced a flood relief fund contribution of USD 15.8 Mn (NGN 2.5 Bn) to the Nigerian government’s relief efforts. The help came at a time when a cataclysmic flood devastated Nigeria, killing up to 400 people and rendering over 2 million people homeless.
In 2012 also, he donated USD 6.3 Mn to 6 Nigerian universities, as well as a USD 1.3 Mn gift to fund the development of the Bayero State University Business School in Kano, Dangote’s birth state. Other gifts included a USD 500 K donation to munitions blast victims in Congo, and USD 12.6 to NGOs committed to developing low-cost housing for the urban poor of the most populous black nation in the world.
If you follow entrepreneurship forums a lot, you would not need voodoo to have come across the revered Nigerian banker and former CEO of United Bank for Africa who is bolstering entrepreneurship in his country. Asides his millions of contribution to Nigerian SMEs and other entrepreneurial activities, Tony Elumelu was one of the largest donors to the Nigerian governments’ relief efforts for the rehabilitation of flood-displaced people across the country.
On the backs of his Tony Elumelu Foundation, the philanthropist gave USD 6.3 Mn (NGN 1 Bn) to enhance the competitiveness and growth of the private sector of Africa through the grooming and mentorship of many business owners. He has championed the launch, scaling and global expansion of many African startups in all the years of philanthropy, and that is very much why his name will remain indelible in the continent’s philanthropy cum business sector.
Let’s go to East Africa, where Kenyan Naushad Merali, the chairman of Sameer Group is giving millions back to society. In March 2012, the tycoon and head of the eponymous company donated the sum of USD 1.2 Mn (Ksh 100 Mn) in a bid to facilitate the construction of a full-fledged daycare medical center at the famous Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). The monetary aid was made through his Zarina & Naushad Merali Foundation, to help the 24-bed daycare enter offer same-day minor surgical services for walk-in patients that do not need overnight management.
The said center will also house four main and two minor operating theatres. While there are many philanthropists in Kenya, many of whom choose to stay under the radar, Merali’s contributions to national welfare have been deemed significant and thus, received with many thanks.
Strive Masiyiwa is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur and the founder of Econet Wireless. In May 2012, he who is held to be the richest man in his country, was presented with an honorary doctorate award by Morehouse College as a token for his many philanthropic and humanitarian gestures across Africa as a whole. Upon accepting the honor, the telecoms mogul pledged to sponsor no less than 10 African students to study at the historically black college. Later in September the same year, the multimillionaire kept his promise, and made good on establishing a USD 6.4 Mn trust to sponsor about 30 students more than he promised to Morehouse College for four years.
In Africa, awarding scholarships to children is deemed an act worthy of endless appreciation. A country where most rural dwellers find it hard to send their children to school, helping them live the burden has always been a way to show you genuinely care. On top of this, Masiyiwa also finances the Capernaum Trust, a Zimbabwe-based Christian charity that sponsors scholarships and medical assistance for more than 28,000 orphaned children.
If you have ever heard of Comcraft Group in Kenya, then Manu Chandaria is the chairman and tycoon seeing to the running of the company. December 2013, the Kenyan businessman gave USD 1.2 Mn (Ksh 100 Mn) to Gertrude’s Children Hospital, a facility that provides healthcare to the underprivileged children in Kenya. The financial commitment which was aimed to enhance the intensive care and diagnostic services at the hospital was used to fund the construction as well as the installation of equipment in an ultra-modern facility that was named The Chandair Medical Center.
Comcraft chairman donated his Chandaria Foundation, a platform which financially supports causes in the education and health sectors. His company deals in the production of steel, plastics and aluminum products from manufacturing facilities in up to 45 countries.