Politics and policy

Philanthropy boosts university growth in Kenya

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From Left: James Mwangi, Equity BANK CEO; Manu Chandaria, Mabati Rolling Mills Chairman and Naushad Merali, Sameer Africa chairman. FILE

From Left: James Mwangi, Equity BANK CEO; Manu Chandaria, Mabati Rolling Mills Chairman and Naushad Merali, Sameer Africa chairman. FILE  

By GEORGE NGIGI

Posted  Sunday, July 28  2013 at  20:06

In Summary

  • Equity Bank’s chief executive James Mwangi last weekend gave a personal contribution of Sh100 million for the construction of an innovation centre at Meru University.
  • Mr Mwangi joins billionaires Manu Chandaria and Naushad Merali who have given up significant portions of their personal wealth to social causes, mostly in the education and health sectors.
  • Last year, Mr Chandaria and Mr Merali made it to the Forbes Top 40 list of most generous philanthropists in Africa.

Wealthy Kenyans have adopted the global trend of endowing millions of shillings to social causes that do not get adequate funding from the government.

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Equity Bank’s chief executive James Mwangi last weekend gave a personal contribution of Sh100 million for the construction of an innovation centre at Meru University where he was appointed the chancellor in March.

“My hope is that this donation will help evolve and develop a model university for us and possibly create a centre of excellence that will be the source of our next generation of leaders in innovation, scientific breakthroughs and developing homemade solutions,” Mr Mwangi said.

Outside Kenya, Mr Mwangi is the biggest individual sponsor to the African Leadership Academy in South Africa, where he sits in the Global Advisory Council, with total donations of Sh30 million ($350,000).

In Kenya, he joins billionaires Manu Chandaria and Naushad Merali who have given up significant portions of their personal wealth to social causes, mostly in the education and health sectors.

“When you self-actualise, you want to achieve significance; you want to impact and I think that is what they are seeking,” said Boniface Ngahu, marketing and research director at Strategic Business Options on the motivation behind the philanthropy.

Foundation

Last year, Mr Chandaria and Mr Merali made it to the Forbes Top 40 list of most generous philanthropists in Africa.

“It was difficult to convince the family in the beginning but finally the family agreed to establish the Chandaria Foundation,” Mr Chandaria said in an interview with the Business Daily.

In December, the Foundation donated Sh100 million to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital, aimed at improving the intensive care and diagnostic services at the hospital.

The foundation started in 1956 has also funded accident and emergency centres at Nairobi Hospital and Pandya Hospital in Mombasa; a business incubation hub at the United States International University and another at Kenyatta University which will be launched on Tuesday by Deputy President William Ruto.

In March last year, Naushad Merali, the chairman of Sameer Group, donated Sh100 million to facilitate the construction of a full-fledged day care medical centre at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

The man who featured on Forbes Top 40 richest men in Africa last year made the donation through his Zarina & Naushad Merali Foundation. He is also associated with tyre-maker Sameer Africa, Equatorial Commercial Bank, and agricultural firm Sasini Tea.

Mr Chandaria said the motivation behind his giving was to set an example for others.

“It is not that I want Chandaria name everywhere, but someone else who is capable will see it and it will challenge them to also contribute,” said Mr Chandaria.

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