(Melissa Moy is special projects associate for Glasspockets. For more information about Mohammed Dewji, and the other Giving Pledgers, visit Foundation Center's Eye on the Giving Pledge.)
A Tanzanian businessman and philanthropist hopes a family legacy of giving will continue in future generations.
Spurred by his parents’ philanthropic example and his Muslim faith, Mohammed Dewji is one of the latest to join the Giving Pledge, whereby wealthy individuals have pledged to give away most of their wealth during their lifetime.
“I hope that my children and grandchildren inherit this ethos and lead by example in years to come,” Dewji said in his Giving Pledge letter. He described his “deep responsibility” to give back to his community and called it a “moral obligation” to help the less fortunate.
- Richest man in Tanzania (Forbes #21 in Africa)
- Businesses: manufacturing, finance, real estate, beverages and edible oils
- Founder of Mo Cola soft drink
- B.S. in Business Administration, Georgetown University
- Former member of Tanzania’s National Assembly
- Net worth: $1.1 billion
Dewji is CEO of MeTL, a Tanzanian conglomerate that includes manufacturing, financial services, real estate, and beverages and edible oils. His father started the business in the 1970s.
“Dewji’s strategic giving is designed to stimulate socio-economic development.”
After graduating from Georgetown in 1998 - and a brief, unsatisfying turn on Wall Street - Dewji's father urged the 23-year-old to join the family business and give up "chasing pennies in New York when there was a fortune to be made in Tanzania."
Within 10 years, the skillful Dewji grew a $30 million business into a pan-African conglomerate with revenues of $1.5 billion. Under his leadership, the company now has 31 industries in 11 countries, and also includes cellular phones, finance and real estate. In 2014, Dewji launched Mo Cola, a soft drink beverage brand that Dewji hopes will one day rival the popularity of Coca-Cola, which has dominated the market for decades.
Dewji, 41, is a key influencer in African philanthropy and politics. A former member of Tanzania's National Assembly, Dewji is the nation’s wealthiest man, and among the 50 richest in Africa.
Motivated to address the severe poverty in Tanzania, Dewji not only focused on philanthropic efforts but also served as Member of Parliament in his home region of Singida to effect change. From setting up Singida Yetu in 2005, a charity that focused on sustainable socio-economic development to establishing his family foundation, Dewji has passionately sought philanthropic opportunities to improve lives in Tanzania.
Dewji’s strategic giving is designed to stimulate socio-economic development. In 2014, he established the Mo Dewji Foundation to align with his “philanthropic vision of facilitating the development of a poverty-free Tanzania. A future where the possibilities, opportunities and dreams of Tanzanians are limitless.” In a statement, Dewji noted: “I have been blessed and I am very proud of the success of my company, MeTL, but with this success and the subsequent wealth comes responsibility…it is the duty… to redistribute this wealth to less fortunate people.”
National Children’s Oncology Center at Muhimbili National Hospital
His foundation focuses on health, education and community development. The foundation targets increased access to education and supporting existing health care facilities and contributing to healthcare infrastructure that includes better nutrition, drilling water wells, adaptive hygienic practices such as building latrines in schools and providing mosquito nets.
Dewji is also seeking tangible opportunities to help and invest in Tanzanians, from personal mentoring and interest-free start-up loans to four-year university scholarships to high-achieving high school students. Through the Mo Entrepreneurs Competition, Dewji offers personal mentoring, support and training, and a $4,584 interest-free loan for entrepreneurs who have “high-potential start-ups but lack further support in the form of growth capital, networks and mentoring.”
“When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of GIVING.”
In collaboration with the University of Dar Es Salaam, the Mo Scholars program selects outstanding high school students and provides four years of undergraduate college to “create a community of passionate students and provide them with the capacity to achieve their greatest potential.”
The businessman has received multiple recognition and awards for his philanthropy from African magazines and business leadership organizations.
He recently Tweeted, “Success shouldn’t be solely defined by your wealth. It should be about the positive impact and influence you have on your community.”
Dewji remains committed to philanthropy and the betterment of his country. By signing the Giving Pledge, Dewji wants to motivate his fellow Africans and global citizens to consider “the funds they truly need to maintain their families versus their ability to give.”
“We all have a moral obligation as the more affluent in society to give back as best we know how,” Dewji said in his Giving Pledge letter. “When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of GIVING.”
-- Melissa Moy