Manuilala Premchand Chandaria is a Kenyan businessman EBS. He was born in 1929 in Nairobi to parents of Indian origin. He is currently the chairman and CEO of Comcraft Group of Companies. This is a billion dollar Business Empire with presence in over 40 companies. He is a board member on several blue chip companies. As a result of his business acumen, he has won awards both in Kenya and Internationally. To crown it all he is a leading philanthropist. In 2003, the Queen Elizabeth II awards him the Order of British Empire (OBE). In December 2003 he was also awarded the Elder of Burning Spear by the then President Mwai Kibaki. This is considered one of the highest civilian honors in Kenya. Many Kenyans consider Chandaria as one of the leading industrialists in the country.
Chandaria’s father had migrated from Saurashta in Gujarat to do business in Kenya. He arrived in Kenya in 1915 and started a provisions store along Biashara Street in Nairobi. Chandaria spent his childhood in Ngala estate in Nairobi. His home was shared by three other families. He always assisted his father in the shop. His father was illiterate but was always determined to make sure his son was highly learned.
Chandaria attended a number of schools in Mombasa and Nairobi. Then, he went to India to undertake his undergraduate studies. In 1949 he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Jamnagar University in India. Then he proceeded to Oklahoma in the United States. In 1950 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and then commenced his Masters degree which he was awarded in 1951. When he returned to Kenya, he met a prospering family business and used it as a platform where he employed his business skills to create a multi-national business empire.
Chandaria’s Business Life
The family had created a fortune that made it possible for them to enter into the aluminum and steel industry. His father in-law had organized people to acquire saucepan manufacturer called Kenya Aluminum. This business was closed during the depression. After two decades the owners of this business enterprise broke up and started on different business ventures. This was how Chandaria’s business empire started. The Comcraft Group is now worth $2.5 billion. The group has interests in other countries such as India, Ethiopia, Congo, and Nigeria. Chandaria was put in charge of operations in Congo and Uganda. His business interests are extensive and have businesses in nearly all sectors of Kenya economy.
Chandaria is a great follower of Jainism. In fulfillment of Jain principles, Manu and his family have set up the Chandaria Foundation to promote his beliefs. His business empire currently has operations in eleven African countries. In all those African countries, Chandaria has set up charitable trusts. He is currently the chairperson of Chandaria Foundation. His philanthropy has benefited several schools and health centers. Chandaria says that he was inspired by Henry Ford and John D Rockefeller when they started their foundations i.e. (Ford and Rockefeller foundations).
Chandaria Business Innovation & Incubation Center
This facility is based in Kenyatta University. It is one of the beneficiaries of Chandaria Foundation. The foundation donated Kshs 25 million for its construction.
Manu Chandaria is a leader on the global arena too. He is a member of the Global Leadership Council as well as a chairman of Global Peace Foundation in Africa.
Chandaria is married to Aruna and they are blessed with two children. These two also work in the family business. Chandaria lives in the leafy suburbs of Muthaiga in Nairobi Kenya.