Driven predominantly by Diamond Mining, Botswana has seen an impressive economic record. However, a very small group of Ultra High Networth Individuals, built their multi-million dollar empires through relatively diverse industries of retail, car dealerships and retail and distribution.
Although they are not all the most popular names or part of regular household chatter, they carry extreme success in their personal lives that has trickled over into the economy in which they live.
Here are the Top 5 wealthiest individuals in Botswana:
Abdul Satar Dada
One of Botswana’s more popular businessman is Satar Dada. He is 77 years old and the founder of Associated Investment Development Corporation (AIDC). It is a corporation with interests in motor vehicle dealerships, printing and publishing, steel maufacturing, property, agribusiness and telecommunications. AIDC is Botswana’s dominant poultry company, the controlling shareholder of Tswana Pride. It slaughters, ships and sells chicken under it’s own brands and through private label products and revenues of over $50 million a year. Dada also owns one of the biggest Toyota dealersships in Botswana, ‘Motor Centre Botswana’. He also bought Hyundai after the company allegedly failed to stay afloat, it was apparently being remote-controlled from South Africa which lead to its liquidation.
On information regarding the undertaking, he confirmed to the BusinessPost that he had in fact made the purchase. However, he did refuse to discuss issues, like that of the retaining of Hyundai’s 31 employees or the reopening of the dealership.
He is also the Treasurer of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party and has served as a member of Parliament.
Gulaam Husain Abdoola
Gulaam Husain Abdoola founded Turnstar Holdings in 2002. He is Director and Managing Director of Turnstar Holdings Ltd. He is also currently the Executive Chairman of GH Group (Proprietary) Ltd.
Gulaam Abdoola is on the board of Masiela Trust Fund and he previously held the position of McCarthy Retail Botswana Pvt Ltd. He is Chairman for Prefsure (Botswana) Ltd. and chairman of Stanbic Bank Botswana Ltd.
Turnstar Holdings is a $160 million (Market Cap) diversified regional sub-Saharan African property loan stock company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. The company has a property portfolio that holds 13 commercial and residential properties. Some of these properties include: Shopping Malls in Gaborone, Mogoditshane, Francistown and Dar-es-Salaam. His stake in the company is valued at $25 million.
In 2017 Turnstar Holdings blamed the loss of Revenue on a Trade License farce. Gulaam stated that the prospective tenants who had signed pre-leases were unable to occupy the stores due to their lack of trade licenses and that this resulted in a loss of revenue. “The Group results for the year ended 31st January 2018 will be lower than those reported in the 31st January 2017 period,” Abdoola said
During the same period, Tanzania also had a delay in the completion of construction, resulting in a delay in leasing of new developments. The current downturn in the economy is an added aspect that has affected the Mlimani commercial offices and conference centre venues.
Abdoola blamed the poor performance on the currency exchange rates, as the US dollar depreciated against the Botswana Pula significantly during the year ended 31st January 2018.
“The interest charges on the completed construction projects, has to be incurred as well. The delayed income from the new completed areas has affected the Group’s operating profits,” reads the statement
Chandrakanth D. Chauhan
Chandrakanth Chauhan is 54 years old and is the largest individual shareholder and the CEO of Sefalana Group, which was the first company to get listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. Sefalana is a $300 million (market cap) retail chain. It is predominantly active in retail and wholesale distribution. It works with fast moving consumer goods through over 50 properties spread across Botswana, Zambia, and Namibia.
Chandrakanth Chauhan is also on the board of Botswana Insurance Holdings Ltd. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Zimbabwe. Chauhan owns a stake in the company with a value of $12 million.
Ramachandran Ottapathu is the CEO of Choppies at only 52 years of age. When he arrived in Lobatse, Botswana, his mission was to restore the Chopdat family’s struggling general dealership. Yet now, nearly 3 decades have gone and the Chopdats are multimillionaires.
In the early 1990’s, Ramachandran was an accountant competing against other accountants in Kerala, India. He knew he had to leave India, which was in economic struggle at the time. Someone he was aquainted with, was working in Botswana and offered him an opportunity to join. He jumped at the chance. “Look, this was the first job offer with decent money. Had it been from the moon, I would have gone there,” he said.
Fast forward to the present day and Ramachandran Ottapathu has created a retail giant and become a multimilionaire. Choppies is Botswana’s largest retailer and was founded in 1986. It began as a single supermarket in Lobatse, Botswana, and it has now become a retail powerhouse with more than 170 stores in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania. Choppies has expanded in size aggressively over the last two years.
In March 2016, it procured 21 retail stores in South Africa from Jwayelani Retail and later 3 more outlets in Kenya (from the struggling chain Ukwala Supermarkets). It has 250 stores in eight countries, giving the likes of Shoprite, Spar and Checkers more than enough competition. Ottapathu owns a 19.5% stake in Choppies worth over $60 million.
Farouk Essop Ismail
Farouk Ismail is 66 years old and is the Deputy Chairman and the co-founder of Botswana’s biggest retailer, Choppies.
He own 14.6% stake in the company with a value of over $45 million. He also owns a stake in Far Property Company Limited
. It is a Public Traded Real Estate Development and Asset Management
company located in Botswana. He is also on the board of Backwater Holdings (Pty) Ltd
. His shares in Far Property
are worth more than $35 million.
It's all hard work and dedication that has got them this far.
Read next: Top Beauty Trends in Botswana: The Big 5
Main image credit: weekendpost.co.bw