Last week, the list of Africa’s wealthiest individuals was released. In the report, one of the African billionaires who moved up the ranks was Tanzanian business tycoon Mohammed Dewji, popularly known as Mo Dewji.
The news that Mo Dewji climbed the list of wealthiest people in the African continent from the 15th position to the 13th, according to the latest Forbes ranking, came as good news to many, considering what the young African billionaire went through about three years ago.
In 2016, the Tanzanian billionaire and philanthropist signed a Giving Pledge where he promised to donate more than half of his wealth to the less priviledged in Tanzania and Africa at large. Despite his pledge, which he has lived up to over the years, Mr. Dewji has maintained a wealth portfolio to the tune of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars.
In 2022, Mo Dewji was ranked by Forbes as the fifteenth wealthiest man in Africa. But many financial analysts predicted that his position on the rankings would experience a stiff decline in the coming years owing to the major setback he faced a couple of years prior.
The Tanzania mogul, who maintains a status as the youngest billionaire in the African continent, has bounced back even stronger after the setback and looks more focused on achieving bigger goals.
But what setback did Mo Dewji experience, and how did he bounce back after three years?
Who is Mo Dewji?
Mo Dewji is a Tanzanian billionaire and the president of Mohammed Enterprise Tanzania Ltd (MeTL). At 46 years, he is currently the youngest African billionaire according to Forbes and the only billionaire from East Africa who appeared in the recent Forbes 2023 list of wealthiest people in Africa.
According to official information released by MeTL, Mo created 7,000 new jobs in 2022, and the number brought the total number of people under his employment to 35,000 from 28,000 in 2021.
Mo Dewji grew up in Singida, a town in central Tanzania. He studied finance and international business, and theology at Georgetown University in the United States of America. From a young age, he has always aimed to be wealthy. “I learned that what is important is how much impact you make in society, the jobs that you create and the lives that you touch,” he was quoted as saying during an interview last year.
He is currently the CEO of MeTL, a Tanzanian conglomerate founded by his father in the early 1970s. Under MeTL, he manages more than 126 independent companies in the food, agriculture, textiles, and manufacturing – where he has 40 industries.
What Setback Did Mo Dewji Experience?
In October 2018, news broke that Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji was kidnapped in the early hours of the morning during his routine morning exercise outside a hotel gym in the country’s main city.
The news created panic across the continent and sparked a huge manhunt across Tanzania. Although he was released after 10 days in captivity, many analysts predicted that the trauma from the near-death experience would affect the business prospects of the young billionaire.
In his first media interview after his release, a visibly disjointed Dewji recalled the incident saying he begged the kidnappers to take his life.
“I was blindfolded and there were times they kept on threatening me with guns to my head and five days, six days into it I was thinking I was losing my eyesight,” Mr. Dewji told the BBC.
“[The kidnapper] was like ‘I’m going to shoot you’ and I was like ‘you can shoot me and kill me’, because I was losing it. You get disoriented; you’re tired, because it’s a form of torture. I kept hearing these chopper noises and thinking that maybe this chopper’s looking for me.”
The Great News
The news that Mo Dewji had bounced back even stronger and was climbing higher on the ladder of wealthiest people in the continent came as great news to Africans.
Known for his philanthropic works, Mr. Dewji is viewed as a role model for youths across the African continent.