The Africa Report - - TOP 500 AFRICAN COMPANIES -

While some fam­ily busi­nesses choose to bring in part­ners for ex­per­tise, to tackle fi­nanc­ing con­straints and to ra­tio­nalise and stream­line their oper­a­tions, others pre­fer to go it alone. METL Group in Tan­za­nia “was founded by my fa­ther and my grand­mother,” says Mo­hammed Dewji, now group CEO. He ex­plains how they coped with fund­ing METL’S growth in a coun­try that lacks a strong fi­nan­cial sec­tor: “When I came back from univer­sity, the biggest bank we had was Bar­clays Bank. Their paid-up cap­i­tal was $2m. The max­i­mum they could lend you was 20% [of their paid-up cap­i­tal]”.

Dewji was cer­tain that a loan of $400,000 was not enough, and so took a plane to South Africa to con­vince bankers there. “And it was dif­fi­cult to go as a fam­ily busi­ness and ask for money. It took time. But even­tu­ally we worked up to a syn­di­cated loan with var­i­ous banks – In­vestec, RMB, Rabo, Stan­dard Bank – with lines of credit of over $200m,” he says.

That has al­lowed the com­pany to create in­dus­trial di­vi­sions. With the heavyweigh­t com­pe­ti­tion of ABN, Bunge and Cargil, “mar­gins in trad­ing have be­come very tight. We needed to add value,” con­cludes Dewji.

Think­ing big: Mo­hammed Dewji, CEO of METL

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