Naushad Merali was the director of the WPH Kenya Tea Company from the 1980s for over two decades. In 2004 Merali purchased a 60% stake in the French media company Vivendi. He paid US$230 million for it. A mere hour later he sold his shares to Celtel for US$250 million – making a profit of US$20 million in only an hour. Merali owns 5% of Kenya’s wireless phone company Bharti Airtel, he has a stake in the Commercial Bank of Africa and also runs the Sameer Group. A conglomerate consisting of 15 companies in Kenya, the Sameer Group has interests in the financial services, agriculture and information technology sectors.
Philanthropy and Sponsorship
Naushad Merali’s family is originally from Gurajarat, but he was born in 1951 in Nairobi, Kenya. Merali started the mobile service provider Kencell and is known as one of the top industrialists in Kenya. Merali has not only brought unprecedented commercial development to Kenya, he is also actively involved with several philanthropic ventures. In 2011 Forbes Magazine cited Merali as one of the ’10 African Millionaires to Watch’. His philanthropic efforts were recognised by the Kenyan government when they awarded him with the ‘Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS).’
The Zarin and Naushad Merali Foundation was started by the Meralis with the aim of helping Kenyans who are in need of improved healthcare, orphans and children who cannot afford education and to provide relief funding when natural disasters strike.
In March 2012 the Zarin & Naushad Merali Foundation made a donation of Ksh. 100 million (equivalent to approximately US$1.2 million) towards the construction of a medical centre in Kenya geared for day care. The centre is being built to provide relief to the Kenyatta International Hospital. The Kenyatta is currently severely congested with general hospital patients and a day centre will greatly ease the load. The new centre will accommodate 24 additional beds and offer same-day surgical services for citizens needing minor surgical procedures done and don’t need to stay the night. In addition to the extra bed space, the centre will also have two minor operating theatres and four main operating theatres.
The foundation generously provides bursaries to orphans and students who are in need of education, but who cannot afford to finance it. One particular benefactor is the Starehe Boys Centre – a partial-board boys only school in Nairobi that was founded in 1959.
Naushad Merali’s wife Zarin Merali is the co-founder of the Zarin & Naushad Merali Foundation and is active in helping people with special needs. She is the Director of the advisory board of the Kenya Paraplegic Organisation.