By Plato Okwaro and Nyambega Gisesa
NAIROBI, KENYA: Selling tissues paper, toilet soap, low-cholesterol cooking fat and baking powder can make you hit the financial Mother Lode.
Just ask Vimal Shah & family, the newest entrant to Forbes Africa’s list of this year’s 50 Richest in Africa where they’re placed at position 18 via their $1.8 billion (Sh136 billion) secured fortune-that makes them Kenya’s richest family
Vimal Shah is the CEO of the family-owned Bidco Oil Refineries, manufactures of edible oils, detergents, baking powder and canola.
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The Sh136 billion Bidco is split between Vimal Shah, his father and younger brother.
The company holds a 49 per cent share of the edible oils market in Kenya and East and Central Africa through its products beings distributed in 14 countries across the continent.
Bidco Oil Refineries has an annual turn over exceeding $500 million (Sh42.5 billion),” according to Forbes Africa, the continent’s sister publication of Forbes, the American magazine that tracks down the fortune of the world’s richest.
Those annual revenues mean Bidco rakes in Sh116 million per day, or Sh5 million an hour, basically Sh83,000 per minute if you do the math!
Forbes only ranks people whose wealth can be quantified.
That means Congelese gunrunners and Nigerian ‘Brown Sugar’ dealers can’t make the list. Add too money coined from illicit milking of state largesse.
Alumni of Jamhuri High
Forbes Africa adds the fortune of Vimal Shah & family soared – like baking powder added to bun dough-through investing in Tatu City, a new $3 billion (Sh240 billion) ultra-modern satellite city to be built on the outskirts of Nairobi.
Tatu City has since been added by the government as one of the Vision 2030 projects aimed at anchoring Kenya into middle income status following in the footsteps of Singapore-our equal at independence but one that went First World leaving us in the Third World. By the way, Singapore achieved in 20 years what took America 200 years!
Vimal Shah, the 53-year old alumni of USIU and Jamhuri High School, founded Bidco together with his family, in 1985 before it took over a sizeable chunk of Unilever’s edible oil business in 2002.