Meet Tanzanian businessman, Mohammed Dewji, the founder and CEO of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL), who is reportedly the youngest billionaire in Africa, according to Billionaires Africa.
In 2015, Forbes Magazine named Dewji a billionaire, at age 40. Now 48, he remains the richest young man in East Africa with a reported net worth estimate of $1.5 billion, according to Billionaires Africa.
His rise to the top in the entrepreneurship space is no coincidence. Dewji comes from a family of entrepreneurs; his grandmother operated a trading shop in Tanzania’s central region, selling sugar, rice, matchboxes, and spices, among other things from her modest residence, which was made from mud and sand.
His father, on the other hand, was involved in importing soft commodities into Tanzania, using family savings and credit facilities. As his business grew by the mid-1970s, he turned his mother’s shop into a thriving import-export business.
Dewji returned to Tanzania after completing his education in the United States. He also had a stint on Wall Street before returning home to take over his family’s trading business. After taking charge of the family business, he changed the nature of the company’s operations by moving it away from predominantly trading to manufacturing.
He has built MeTL into one of the formidable industrial groups, not only in Tanzania but in Africa at large. The company manufactures everything from edible oils and detergents to soft drinks and pasta.
“It also has significant operations in agriculture, haulage, and port services. The group contributes three percent of Tanzania’s GDP, has annual revenues of more than $1 billion, and employs over 20,000 people across East and Southern Africa,” according to Billionaire Africa.
Some of the businesses under MeTL, as highlighted by Billionaires Africa, include:
21st Century Textiles Limited: a textile mill in Sub-Saharan Africa located in Morogoro, Tanzania. It is reportedly the country’s leading employer in the textile sector.
East Coast Oils and Fats: Tanzania’s largest edible oils company. The company makes soap, cooking fat, and margarine and can process 750,000 metric tonnes.
1st Century Food and Packaging Limited: a wheat and maize milling factory that accounts for over 25 percent of the local market share.
Glenrich Transportation: a transport and logistics company with over 1,000 vehicles with various carrying capacities.
A-One Products and Bottlers Ltd: one of Tanzania’s largest beverage manufacturers. Its flagship product includes Mo Xtra, which holds a 70-percent market share in the country’s CSD market.
Royal Soap and Detergent Industries Ltd: Tanzania’s largest detergent manufacturer.
East Coast Liquid Storage Limited: an Inland Container Depot and Container Freight Station offering handling, storage, and logistics services for import and export cargo.
MeTL Agro: an agribusiness that owns several plantations, including sisal plantations, cashew farms, and palm plantations.
21st Century Holdings Ltd: Manufactures various sisal products for local and export markets.
Star Oil Tanzania Limited: operates a network of retail pump stations and petroleum depots, enabling efficient storage and distribution of petroleum products.