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Narendra Raval

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Narendra Rameshchandra Raval (born August 18, 1961), popularly known as “Guru”, is a Kenyan Indian philanthropist, industrialist and tycoon. He is the founder of Kenya’s largest steel and cement empire, the Devki Group.[1]. The company produces steel products, roofing sheets and cement among other things. He travelled to Kenya in 1978 where he served in a Temple in Nairobi and preached youngsters to believe in the religion for developing self-confidence and discipline. Raval is one of the wealthiest people in the country with a fortune estimated at $400 Million. He was also featured among the top 50 richest men in the Forbes Africa 2015 list[2], as well as received a number of accolades for his service, including the President's Award of Kenya in 2007 and the UK's philanthropy award in 2012. He was also honored by the Lions International Foundation with the Melvin Jones Fellowship in Nakuru, becoming the 12th person in the world to receive such recognition.

Raval, now a Kenyan citizen, and his Group employs more than 4,500 workers and is the largest building materials company in East and Central Africa[3]. He is also one of the country’s most devoted philanthropists- spending millions annually on scholarships for thousands of destitute children and rehabilitating schools.

Born in a small village of Mathak in Gujarat, India, he started off as an assistant priest, then a palmist and astrologer, to a shopkeeper, an industrialist, and now a multi-millionaire. He studied up to Year 12 in Kutch – Bhuj, India while staying in the Temple. In the temple he had also learnt spiritual preaching, cooking for temple devotees, acquired command over Sanskrit (ancient Hindu) language, acquired knowledge of astrology and palmistry, as well as acquired knowledge on the Hindu Religion.

Early Life[edit]

Raval was born in 1961 in Bodka Village, (Jodiya Tehsil, Jamnagar District, Gujarat, India.) in a humble family. He is a Brahmin, belonging to the priestly caste of the Hindu religion. From a tender age, he experienced struggle, hunger and helplessness[4]. Though born with innate business skills, his family’s financial condition made him mull over way of earning money and supporting the family. At the age of 14, while studying in Bhuj, circumstances forced him to serve as Hindu Brahmin Priest in The Swaminarayan Temple. In 1978, he was given an opportunity to travel to Kenya, to serve as a Priest in The East Africa Satsang Swaminarayan Temple, Nairobi (EASST). He was a teenager at the time and he was getting an allowance of Ksh 2,500 a month (which at the time was about $50) for his work in the Temple. Back then, it was a lot of money and it was enough for him to meet his basic needs – food and shelter. In search of livelihood, he returned to Kenya in 1981. Between 1981 and 1985, he travelled to Kisumu and Nakuru[5]. During his time in Nakuru, he rendered services as a Priest, performed various religious rites and offered services (free of cost) as an Astrologer. A good Samaritan and a scion of a steel manufacturer’s family took him back to Nairobi. While in Nairobi, he mastered skills in hardware trading and distribution and also steel manufacturing and distribution. In 1985, he married Neeta Pandit and decided to start his own hardware trading business[6].

Autobiography[edit]

With a view to inspiring the youth, in Collaboration with his dear friend and colleague, Kailash Mota, he published his Autobiography “GURU- A Long Walk to Success” in 2018. Published by Bloomsbury India, it was launched in August, 2018[7].

The Publishers have acclaimed this as their best selling and most inspiring Biography for the year 2018. In 2019, his Autobiography is being translated into Gujarati and Hindi.

Business Career[edit]

Raval started his small business of steel trading in the year 1985 in Nairobi as Steel Centre Limited[8]. Through earnest quest to become a genuine businessman and with sheer hard work, he mastered the knowledge of steel trading business and went on to become the largest steel trader of Kenya in 1990. He has made remarkable progress in his career as an industrialist and presides over a business group with a turnover exceeding USD 700 million and which is poised to grow to USD 1Billion over the next five years with the object of serving the society, human kind and Almighty God, promoting economic development, import substitution, employment generation, exports and environmental & social development inspired by a philanthropist attitude.

Commencement of Steel Manufacturing:

Sensing the limited capacity of the then existing steel manufacturers of Kenya and to serve the unfulfilled and growing demand, he established Devki Steel Mills Limited (the Flagship company of the Devki Group of Companies) in the year 1993 to start construction of the factory on a 30 Acre land at Athi River, Kenya for manufacturing of steel. The manufacturing of steel was commenced in 1996 by initially setting up the Tube Mill, followed by setting up of the Rolling Mill[6] and scrap recycling melting furnaces. The commencement of the manufacturing activity was inaugurated and commended by His Excellency Daniel Arap Moi, the then President of the Republic of Kenya and was attended by the Minister of Industry and several Cabinet Ministers.

To further increase the manufacturing capacity and become self-dependent, he started construction of the Billet casting plant at the port town of Mombasa, Kenya in 2002. Simultaneously, to increase the product range, he set up the wire plant in the factory at Athi River in 2002[9]. The manufacturing of billets was commenced from the Mombasa plant in 2005.

He acquired the Nalin Nail Works Group of Companies (the then Largest Steel Manufacturing Group of Kenya) in 2005 from Kenya Commercial Bank to establish the factory at Ruiru, Kenya and thus further expanded the capacity and product range.

Today Devki Steel Mills Limited has a market share of over 50% in the country. The company is poised to grow further and expand its presence in the national and regional steel market[10].

Further Advancement of Industrialization - Birth and Growth of Maisha Mabati Mills Limited and National Cement Company Limited:

In accordance with his dream of setting up one stop shops for providing all building and construction materials at affordable rates to the local people (Wananchi), Mr. Guru began construction of factories for manufacturing of roofing sheets and cement in Kenya at Ruiru and Lukenya[9] respectively. Thus Maisha Mabati Mills Limited and National Cement Company Limited came into existence in 2007 and 2005. The Ground Breaking ceremony for the construction of cement factory in 2008 at Lukenya was commenced by His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, the former President of the Republic of Kenya and attended by several dignitaries including Honourable Kalonzo Musyoka, the former Vice President, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, former Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Republic of Kenya and several Cabinet Ministers. The manufacturing of roofing sheets commenced in 2009 and was inaugurated by His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, former President of the Republic of Kenya and attended by Honourable Kalonzo Musyoka, former Vice President and several Cabinet Ministers. The manufacturing of cement commenced in late 2010 and was inaugurated by His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, former President of the Republic of Kenya and attended by Honourable Raila Odinga, former Prime Minister, Honourable Kalonzo Musyoka, former Vice President and several Cabinet Ministers. The presence of several government dignitaries underpinned the importance of each economic development initiative undertaken by Mr Guru for Kenya and in the East African Region.

Today Maisha Mabati Mills Limited proudly owns the second largest roofing sheet manufacturing plant in Africa with annual capacity of 144,000MT[11]. National Cement Company Limited which begun with annual grinding capacity of 330,000MT in 2010, has expanded its grinding capacity to more than 1.5MillionMT. National Cement Company Limited is also constructing its 1.65MillionMT clinker manufacturing plant.

IFC (World Bank Group) is partnering with Mr. Narendra Raval with equity subscription in National Cement Company Limited[12] which is a standalone equity partnership with a business family in Africa. Besides, IFC has also committed to long term debt support in National Cement Company Limited and looks forward to partnering with him in other areas of business[13][14].

With the commencement of these manufacturing activities, the existing large trustworthy customer network of the Devki group across the country became one stop shops for offering complete range of quality Devki group building and construction materials at competitive rates to the local people[15].

Promoting Economic Growth and Prosperity through Industrial Expansion:

Mr Narendra Raval recognizes industrialization as vital for economic growth of Kenya and the East African Region. In line with his dream of achieving economic prosperity through industrial growth, all the three companies are undertaking activities for capacity expansion. In order to promote economy of operations, plans have been made to promote (i) vertical integration of supply chain and (ii) modernization of the existing processes. To facilitate quick and easy access to remote areas (with bare minimum economic opportunity and growth) where industrial expansion activities are taking place, he has established an aviation company (Northwood Agencies Ltd) which provides chopper services[16].

His zeal for entrepreneurship has promoted the establishment of Congo Steel SPRL and Congo Copper SPRL at Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R. Congo).

Employment, Trade promotion, and Philanthropic Activities

The Devki Group employs over 4,500 Kenyans in Kenya[17] and 430 Congolese in D.R. Congo. The capacity expansion and vertical integration of industrial and allied activities will promote further employment generation and improve economic opportunities in the remote areas of these countries.

Promoting Trade:

Under his stewardship, the Group makes exports to Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and D.R. Congo and earns scarce foreign exchange for the country. The Group imports raw materials, consumables, spares, plant and machinery including technical designs, drawings and know-how from Asia, Europe, Australia, America, Middle East and Africa[18].

Philanthropic Activities:

Driven by his spiritual upbringing and outlook of life, he has undertaken several philanthropic initiatives. A few noteworthy being:

  • Acting as Trustee of Kenya Down Syndrome Society (which treats around 3000 persons (children and adults) suffering from the disease in Kenya),
  • Trustee of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) which feeds hot meals to around 1000 children in the slums of Nairobi daily since 2000,
  • Trustee of The Loomba Foundation of Africa (founded in the United Kingdom), which provides means of livelihood to widows in Kenya and other countries.
  • Financially supported re-construction of 22 homes in the village of “Nastipar” Village in Tankara Taluka, Rajkot District in Gujarat India, which was totally destroyed in the 2001 Earthquake that struck the Bhuj region.
  • Under his guidance, the group undertakes corporate social responsibility initiatives such as completely supporting an orphanage at Athi River, Kenya comprising of 73 children out of which 19 are HIV positive. The group provides support in cash and in kind to local educational institutions, medical clinics and scholarship support to needy and meritorious students. The factories at Athi River and Ruiru facilitate free supply of water to the local community.
  • As part of CSR activities of the upcoming clinker manufacturing project of National Cement Company Ltd, pipeline and bore wells for providing sweet drinking water to the local community have been facilitated. School to promote education of local children is being developed.
  • All workers in D.R. Congo are provided with free one time meal and medical facilities.

Personal Life[edit]

Raval is married, and currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya[19]. He got married in 1985 to Mrs. Neeta Raval in Kenya, who facilitates all philanthropic activities.

He is a proud father of three children with the eldest son, Mr. Devang Raval, who graduated with distinction in BSc (Hons) in Economics from University of Brunel, London. Mr. Devang Raval has joined the business and is under grooming to take over the mantle in the coming future. Mrs. Prakruti Devang, daughter in law of Mr. Guru, has also started to train in the business activities. His Daughter, Miss Tulsi Raval, is undergoing her studies oriented towards participation in future business activities. The youngest son, Mr. Devrath Raval, is undergoing school education.

At the age of 54, Mr. Narendra Raval has pursued his study and training and acquired the Private Pilot’s License and is a qualified Helicopter Pilot. He flies his own chopper in pursuit of business and philanthropic activities.

Awards[edit]

Mr Raval has been recognized from time to time for his developmental and philanthropic initiatives. The major ones are listed below:

  • Awarded with Doctorate of Divinity in 2007 by Champions Covenant Church in Unites States of America.
  • Recognition in 2009 for his contribution to International Widows Association by Cherrie Blair (wife of Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain) in Kenya.
  • Awarded the First Class Presidential Award Titled “Elder of Burning Spear, (EBS)” by His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, former President of the Republic of Kenya in 2010 for Social and Economic services to the people of Kenya and for contribution to development.
  • Awarded by the Government of United Kingdom in June 2012 and presented by Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of Great Britain at 10, Downing Street, London for enabling means of livelihood to the widows in Kenya.
  • Recognized as Distinguished Melvin Jones Fellow by the International Lions Club, United States of America in August 2012 at Nakuru, Kenya in the presence of the representatives of Lions Club, Governors and past Governors for his contribution to social work. He became only the 12th person in the world to receive the Melvin Award after the late Orville R. Black, Thomas G. Beggs, Frederick R Smith and Warren W. Warner among others.
  • Awarded The SOL Lions Favorite “Guru” of Entrepreneurs by Lions Clubs.
  • International on 22nd January 2016, in India. In recognition of exemplary services rendered during the year 2015-16. Award was given during the 22nd SOL Lions Gold Awards 2015, a dream Project of The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, India.
  • He was featured in on the Cover of Forbes Africa Magazine in May 2015[2].
  • In February 2016 Forbes Africa Magazine has featured him as the 46th richest person in Africa[2].
  • On 5th December, 2018, he was awarded by EY Kenya (Ernest & Young), awarded him with “ Entrepreneur of the Year 2018” for Kenya, in the Master Category. He will represent East Africa in the Global Entrepreneurs Awards to be hosted again by EY in June 2019[20]

References[edit]

  1. "Devki Group of Companies". Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Narendra Raval". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  3. Nsehe, Mfonobong. "Kenyan Steel Tycoon Narendra Raval To Invest $200 Million In Cement Plant". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  4. "Narendra Raval: Meet the man who rose from being a priest to a multimillionaire". DBPOST. 2018-10-13. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  5. Michira, Moses. "Kenyan billionaire with close ties to Indian PM Modi". The Standard. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "From assistant priest to Kenya's steel tycoon - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  7. "BLOOMSBURY". www.bloomsbury.com. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  8. "Mr. Narendra Raval, EBS, (Guru) | Devki Group of Companies". Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Nkirote, Miriam (2018-01-11). "Billionaire Narendra Raval makes bold bet on Kenya cement business". Construction Kenya. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  10. Nsehe, Mfonobong. "Kenyan Steel Multi-Millionaire Narendra Raval Expands His Cement Business". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  11. "Maisha Mabati Mills Ltd". Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  12. "IFC commits Sh9.7 billion in National Cement expansion". Daily Nation. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  13. "HOME". Business Daily. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  14. Wednesday; April 4; 2018 9:31. "IFC commits Sh9.7 billion in National Cement expansion". Business Daily. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  15. "Message from the Chairman | Devki Group of Companies". Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  16. "About Us | Northwood Aviation". Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  17. "Devki Group breaks ground for first steel mill in Eastern Africa, to create over 10,000 jobs - Think Business Kenya". thinkbizke.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  18. "Breadth versus depth: Why East African Community is doomed". The East African. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  19. "Narendra Raval". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  20. "Steel maker scoops top EY award". Retrieved 2019-01-02.


External Links[edit]

1. My Journey: Narendra Raval Guru Devki Steel Mills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GW6HNUZrvQc&t=77s

2. KCB Venture with Devki Group: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMZPHPJ36ZU

3. K24 Alfajiri- 20.07.15 Interview with Business Guru-Narendra Raval: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_5u72WV1Ac&t=20s

4. Money & Power-Narendra Raval Guru: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QCuRr_kyZI&t=2s

5. Up and Personal with the Man of Steel-Narendra Raval: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSsKP-XIyVo

6. Bloomsbury India- Autobiography of Narendra Raval ( Guru) Video: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=guru+bloomsbury

7. Sunday Live: A Day with Narendra Raval, Kenyan Steel Billionaire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oTHBDKy7Ik&t=25s

8. Citizen TV- 9th September 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfPBnTfy0aw&t=63s

9. Kenya is my karmabhoomi: https://www.speakingtree.in/article/kenya-is-my-karmabhoomi


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