Kenyan multi-millionaire businessman Narendra Raval, popularly referred to as ‘Guru’, has pledged to donate at least half of his fortune to charity.
In a conversation Forbes on Wednesday in his offices in Ruiru, Nairobi, Raval, 55, promised to donate half of his net worth to causes in education and health, as well as other social programmes to benefit Kenya’s poor.
“I have decided in my will that I don’t want to go on keeping the money for myself,” Raval said.
“I will keep 50% for my children and the other 50% will go to charity in Kenya.”
Raval, who in 2015 was featured in FORBES’ ranking of Africa’s richest people with a fortune of more than $400 million, left India in 1982 where he was a Temple assistant in a Swaminarayan temple to take up a job in a hardware shop in Nairobi.
By 1990, he already owned his own shop in Nairobi’s famous Gikomba market. He operated the shop with his wife, Neeta (a medical doctor), toiling for more than 18 hours every day.
In 1992, the couple took a loan and started roofing and fencing business, developing a small steel rolling mill near Athi River on the outskirts of Nairobi.
That business would soon become the Devki Group, a company with steel and cement manufacturing facilities in Kenya, Uganda and Congo that today has annual revenues of more than $600 million and has since made Raval one of Kenya’s most recognizable and successful businessmen, and one of the country’s top 10 tax payers.
Raval, one of Kenya’s most prominent philanthropists, gives scholarships to hundreds of destitute Kenyan children every year and funds the rehabilitation of schools and other educational centers in low-income areas in Kenya.
He also provides startup funding to low-income female entrepreneurs in Kenya to start their own businesses.
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate in business and I’ve made a large fortune here in Kenya. This country has been really good to me, and it bleeds my heart when I see Kenyans suffering from poverty and ill-health. I keep thinking of ways to solve the many socio-economic problems we have, and I hope my fortune can go a long way in providing solutions to some of these problems after I’m long gone,” he says.