The Kalahari Desert, a large semi-arid savannah, covers 70% of Botswana. It is, therefore, no surprise that water is such a valued commodity. In fact, Botswana’s currency is called the Pula which translates to rain in Setswana.
Having enjoyed sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest economic growth for much of the last century, this landlocked country has positioned itself to be an important hub for manufacturing and commerce by leveraging its position as a gateway to the Southern Africa market.
Despite being the world’s third largest diamond producer, its wealthiest individuals made their fortunes through investments in diverse industries outside the mining sector, and they represent some of the biggest homegrown entities on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE).
The five wealthiest people in Botswana today are:
Gulaam Abdoola is the founder and managing director of Turnstar Holdings Ltd, a diversified property loan stock company listed on the BSE with a market cap of US $160 million. The company has subsidiaries in Dubai (Turnstar Investment Ltd) and Dar es Salaam (Mlimani Holding Ltd).
In his past career, Mr. Abdoola occupied the position of Chairman at Stanbic Bank Botswana Ltd.
Chandrakanth Chauhan is the largest individual shareholder in Sefalana Holding Company Ltd, a listed entity with interests in the manufacturing and distribution of fast-moving consumer goods in Botswana, Zambia, Lesotho and Namibia.
The Zambian-born managing director took Sefalana from a market capitalisation of P64 million (US $5.8 million) in 2004, to its current P3 billion (US $276 million), during which period the group has frequently been the BSE’s top performer.
Founder of The Far Property Company Ltd, Ramachandran Ottapathu is a member of the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and he is on the board of 82 other companies.
Farouk Ismail founded the Ismail Group of companies, now known as Choppies Enterprises Ltd. Farouk opened the first store in Wayside, Lobatse in 1986 and has since witnessed exponential growth; today the group has 260 stores in eight countries. He also has interests in Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Ltd, the Dubai based Polyafric Trading DMCC and South African’s Q Tique 79 (Pty) Ltd.
Abdul Satar Dada
Politically connected businessman, Abdul Satar Dada is the founder of Associated Investment Development Corporation (AIDC). Among other things, AIDC is the controlling shareholder of Tswana Pride, Botswana’s dominant poultry company. Mr Dada is also a majority shareholder in Motor Centre Botswana Ltd, one of the country’s biggest automobile dealerships.