AT a posh suburb of Johannesburg, Sandhurst, a group of global leading bankers are gathered for a signing ceremony of 200 million US dollars loan to local conglomerate, Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited.
"I hope you will use this loan very well as you have demonstrated before to tap into opportunities available in your part of the world where a lot of investment opportunities still exist," said Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) Executive Director, Bruce Macfarlane soon after the loan signing ceremony.
Mr Macfarlane said ever since his bank started working with MeTL in 2007 when it loaned the group 7m US dollars, the local company has made significant progress to diversify and grow in line with the objective of the loan.
He pointed out that when MeTL Group Chief Executive Officer, Mohammed Dewji first approached the bank for the loan meant to assist with diversifying the family business, he wasn't so sure that results will be encouraging.
Since then, Dewji who took charge of the family conglomerate in 1999 after returning from Georgetown University in the United States, has spearheaded a programme to wean the group from being a commodities trading entity to a manufacturing giant.
"Thanks to your confidence and support to us, Mohammed Enterprises is a household name not only in Tanzania but in several countries in east and southern Africa," said Mr Dewji, one of the youngest CEOs to head a conglomerate with revenues in excess of 1.3 billion US dollars per annum in Sub Sahara Africa.
"In Tanzania today, no single family cannot pass the whole day without putting our group's products to use, we are in manufacturing of edible oil, soap, plastics, sisal bags, commodities trading, transportation, communications and soft drinks," said Dewji who also doubles as Singida urban lawmaker for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi.
Dewji who targets to more than double MeTL's annual revenue to 5bn US dollars by 2018, found the company with a turnover of only 26 million US dollars when he took over as CEO from his father, Gulam Dewji.
The young Dewji found MeTL mainly as a commodities buyer and exporter with less than ten subsidiary companies which he has successfully increased to over 30 today, many of which are manufacturing finished goods. "Since taking over as CEO, my vision has been to transform the group into a manufacturing giant in Africa and already our products are selling in Burundi, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Sudan and Zambia among others," he noted.
Among MeTL's notable brands include Mo Cola soft drinks, Masafi mineral water, Safi sunflower cooking oil and Kosha soap which are necessities for local families on a daily basis. "We pride ourselves as the people's brand because our products are direct needs of ordinary people," the MeTL CEO noted.
Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) Head of Trade and Working Capital, Gregory Havermahl, expressed hope that under Dewji's leadership, MeTL will likely realize the 5bn US dollars turnover before 2018. Describing Tanzania as one of the most endowed African countries in terms of natural resources, Mr Havermahl pledged to continue working with the Dar es Salaam based group as the east African nation heads towards gas economy.
"We hope you will successfully realize your ambition to grow the group but notably diversify further to the manufacturing sector which is an important aspect in developing modern economies," he pointed out. Dewji who was earlier this year named by US based prestigious magazine, Forbes as one of African youngest successful entrepreneurs, assured the bankers who issued the loan to deliver on his dream.
"I can assure you, we will reach there," he said while commending MeTL Group's over 20,000 staff members for their hard work and commitment. Under the headline, "100 hours a week 85m $ a year," Forbes magazine said Dewji is, the first Tanzanian of less than 40 years of age to record such a feat in business.
"You had never settled for the second best and encouraged the team to raise their bar in all areas. As the German phrase "Immer Besser" meaning "forever better" was your motto and that has brought accolades to you," said East Coast Oils and Fats Ltd Chief Executive Officer, Vijay Raghavan.
Mr Vijay wrote in a congratulatory note to Dewji following his Forbes magazine published story that his outstanding leadership has enabled the group to grow across borders.
Its outstanding subsidiary companies include; East Coast Oils and Fats Ltd, Royal Soap and Detergent Industries Ltd, AOne Products and Bottlers Ltd and Glenrich Transportation Ltd. The group has plans to venture into the banking and financial services sector.