The family of kidnapped Tanzanian dollar billionaire Mohammed Dewji has said it will give a reward of a billion Tanzanian shillings (Sh44.1 million) for information leading to his rescue,Speaking for the first time since he was abducted at gun point four days ago in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, the 43-year-old's uncle, Azim Dewji, told a packed press conference that the family believes the reward will help the police investigation.
“We [the Dewji family] want to assure anyone with the information about the whereabouts of our son to come forward and we will treat their information as secret,” he added. Mr Dewji, described by Forbes magazine as Africa's youngest and Tanzania's only billionaire, was kidnapped early on Thursday by four masked men outside a swanky hotel gym in the affluent Oysterbay neighbourhood, where he was going for his routine morning workout. Police have arrested 30 people in connection with the incident and it is believed that the abduction was led by two white men. Dewji, 43, who heads the MeTL Group which operates in about 10 countries with interests in agriculture to insurance, transport, logistics, and the food industry, was snatched as he entered the gym of a hotel in the city.
FROM ARUSHA TO GEORGETOWN university
Mohammed received his primary education in Arusha at the Arusha Primary School and finished his secondary education from the International School of Tanganyika (IST) in Dar Es Salam. In 1992 his parents decided to send him to America for his High School years and he was admitted to the Saddle Brooke High School in New Jersey.
It was at High School that Mohammed first started exhibiting signs of leadership by becoming the School President. Being a Tanzanian and holding such position in a foreign land made his family very proud. He was also voted as the Most Accomplished student at the time and it is notable to mention here that his school mate Jeniffer Capriati a very famous U.S tennis player won the same vote in the women’s section.
After finishing his high school studies Mohammed continued with his university education in USA and joined one of the renowned university, Georgetown University in Washington D.C majoring in International Business and Finance and taking Theology as a minor subject.
Georgetown University is famous for its good education. Notable alumni of the University include 42nd U.S President Bill Clinton, Philippines president Gloria Arroyo, Jordan’s King Abdullah and NBA players like Allen Iverson and Patrick Ewing
During his time at Georgetown, Mohammed started to analyze his life. He was trying to balance the Western way of life with his native African way of living. He thought that much more could be done for his countrymen through some very basic changes and way of running things. He started to focus and prioritize what he wanted to gain from his education and experience in America. After Graduation in 1998, Mohammed headed straight back to Tanzania and joined the family business. He became Chief Financial Controller (CFO) at Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (METL).
Mohammed Dewji was born in Singida, a rural town in central Tanzania on May 8, 1975, where his grandmother and subsequently his father, operated a small trading house. After pursuing his higher education in the United States, he returned to Tanzania in 1998 to join his family’s trade and transport group. Although Mohammed began as the CFO, within a few years he had proven that he was the perfect candidate to head the group. Once in the CEO’s seat, he has taken Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited to unimaginable heights. Mohammed is single-handedly responsible for increasing MeTL’s revenues from $30 million to over $1.3 billion between 1999 and 2014, and the journey of Africa’s youngest billionaire has only just begun. Mohammed continues to strive for excellence in the business arena and the footprint of the MeTL conglomerate continues to spread under his leadership.
Currently, the MeTL Group has investments in manufacturing, agriculture, trading, finance, mobile telephony, insurance, real estate, transport and logistics, and food and beverages. Mohammed has earned a reputation for successfully investing in sectors that entrepreneurs typically shy away from, such as agriculture and textiles. Such decisions are taken with a view towards investing for profit, job creation and creating social benefits for the country. The group is conducting business in Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, and employs over 28,000 people. MeTL’s operations contribute 3.5% of Tanzania’s GDP. The average growth rate from $30 million to $1.3 billion is 200% per annum, compared to a GDP growth of 7-9% per annum.
In addition to his many endeavors in the business arena, Mohammed also has demonstrated an exemplary record of contributing to the well-being of the people of his country. The scope of his contributions have covered educational assistance, access to healthcare, improving accessibility to basic needs such as water, agriculture related assistance and sports related assistance. Through his position as a Member of Parliament, Mohammed has consistently strived to improve the quality of life for Tanzanians; however, his efforts haven’t stopped there. He has also made substantial contributions in his personal capacity and through his group of companies. Mohammed has taken a very hands-on approach to his philanthropic efforts. By making time to personally visit donation sites and patients, he has played a key role in encouraging others about the importance of philanthropy.
RELATIONSHIP WITH SINGIDA
I returned to Tanzania in 1998 after receiving a degree in International business and Finance from The University of Georgetown in America. After spending a few days in Dar Es Salam I headed towards Singida in hope of seeing a city changed for the better.
After paying my respects to the graves of my great grand father and other ancestors I walked along the road and came across an old man who was filling his water bucket with remarkably yellow coloured water from the ground.It was clear that the water was polluted with dirt and not fit for drinking. When I asked him what he was going to do with this water he replied that this was his daily drinking water for the family. His answer suddenly brought me face to face with the reality of everyday life in an ordinary hardworking man’s life. I could not believe that this man was forced to use this water for drinking. Later when I went with him to his house and met his family I saw many of other drinking buckets filled with the same water and any doubt in my mind was replaced with grief and anger. The old man knew me and my family very well. He told me an educated mind has the power to make a difference. He looked at me and said that one should never forget one’s roots. His parting words to me were to think about becoming the people’s representative in Singida and look for a parliamentary seat in the elections.