Family businesses play a critical role internationally and in the context of African economies. However, due to a lack of reliable data their significance and contributions are not fully appreciated or understood. One thing is clear, however—family-owned businesses are the backbone of the African economy.
Though family businesses abound across Africa, only a small fraction of these businesses survive into the second and third generations. While the majority of family business owners across the continent plan to pass their organizations to the next generation, the appropriate structures for ensuring this occurs are mostly lacking among African family businesses.
Some of these structures include outlining how ownership and management are transferred. Very few family businesses have such structures in place including policies and procedures that have a significant impact on business continuity such as Testament/Last Will. Also, very few family businesses in Africa have a robust, formalised and communicated succession plan in place.
Considering only a few African family businesses enjoy multi-generational survival, we celebrate 25 leading family businesses in Africa that have successfully passed on business entities to the second and third generations.
The African family businesses on this list have met all of the following criteria:
· They are 21 years and older. This 20-year time frame corresponds on average with a level of transition from first-generation control to at least some participation of the next generation of the family owners;
· At least one member of the family is formally involved in the leadership of the company;
· Listed companies are defined as family businesses if the persons who founded or acquired the company from their families or descendants control at least 25 percent or more of the decision-making rights required by their share capital; and,
· The share capital controlled by the family is at least in the second generation or beyond.
Here are 25 family businesses in Africa, how they began and the value they are adding to the continent:
1. Cevital SPA
Ownership: The Issad Rebrab family
Revenue: $4 billion
Cevital Industries Group is Algeria’s largest privately-owned conglomerate founded by Issad Rebrab (pictured), Africa’s seventh richest man, in 1971.
It is a globally renowned food brand with 2-million MPTA sugar refineries, among the largest in the world. The company’s interests span the agri-food sector, retail, industry and services.
2. Mansour Group
Ownership: The Mansour family
Revenue: $7.5 billion
Mansour Group is an Egypt-based multinational founded in 1952 by Loutfy Mansour. The family-run conglomerate is the second-largest company in Egypt in terms of revenue.
It has an operational footprints in more than 100 countries globally, employing around 60,000 people.
The company’s interests span the energy, automotive, consumer durables, finance, retail, construction, tourism, shipping, defence, information technology, investment and food sectors.
It is also in partnership with some of the world’s leading brands, including General Motors, Peugeot, MG, Caterpillar and McDonald’s.
The company is managed by the Mansour brothers Mohamed, Youssef and Yasseen, who sit on the group’s board.
3. Al Mada
Ownership: Morocco/The Royal Family
Revenue: $3.5 billion
Al Mada, or Societe Nationale d’Investissement (SNI), is a large privately-held Moroccan holding company-conglomerate belonging to the Moroccan Royal Family.
The company was founded in 1966 by the Moroccan State and Royal Family, located in Casablanca.
Al Mada holds stakes in major private companies in Morocco’s key sectors. The companies include AttijariWafa (banking), Managem (mining), Nareva (energy), Lafarge Cements and Marjane (retail).
Al Mada also has investments in other African countries, including Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Rwanda and Gabon.
While King Mohammed VI (pictured) owns the company, Moroccan businessman Hassan Ouriagli serves as its chief executive.
4. Pick n Pay
Ownership: The Ackerman family
Revenue: $6.3 billion
Country: South Africa
Pick n Pay is a South Africa-based supermarket chain founded in 1967 by Jack Goldin and later bought over by Raymond Ackerman.
Pick n Pay is South Africa’s second-largest chain store.
It has an operational footprint in other countries, including Pakistan, Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Hong Kong and Iraq.
5. Akwa Group SA
Segment: Oil and gass/diversified
Ownership: The Akhenouch family
Revenue: $3 billion
Akwa Group SA is a Casablanca-based conglomerate privately held by the billionaire Akhenouch family.
Patriarch Ahmed Ouldhadj Akhannouch founded the company in 1932. His son, Aziz Akhannouch (pictured), who serves as Morocco’s minister of agriculture since 2007, serves as the chief executive and chairman.
The company is engaged in the oil and gas industry and a further operation in the telecommunications, tourism, hospitality and real estate sectors. Its service stations operate under the Afriquia brand.
6. Elsewedy Electric Co SAE
Segment: Energy solutions
Ownership: The Elsewedy family
Revenue: $2.9 billion
Elsewedy Electric Co SAE is a Cairo-based multinational electrical company founded in 1938 by the Elsewedy family. Ahmed Elsewedy is the group’s president and chief executive.
The company manufactures and sells integrated energy products and services, including electrical cables and accessories, electrical products, telecommunications and transformers.
The company, which listed on the Cairo Stock Exchange in 2006, provides sustainable projects in energy and infrastructure.
7. Ezz Steel
Segment: Iron and steel
Ownership: Ahmed Ezz
Revenue: $2.2 billion
Al Ezz Dekheila Steel Co EZDK (Ezz Steel) is Egypt’s largest steel company. It is also the largest in the Middle East and North Africa.
The company was founded in 1994. Ezz Steel and its subsidiaries engage in the manufacturing, trade and distribution of iron and steel products of diverse kinds and associated products and services.
Farouk Ibrahim serves as the group’s chairman.
8. Elaraby Group
Ownership: The Elaraby family
Elaraby Group is an Egyptian joint stock family enterprise established in 1964.
It is a leader in developing and manufacturing consumer electronics and home appliances in Egypt, the Middle East and Africa.
The company’s products are widely accepted in more than 60 countries.
The Elaraby business has more than 40,000 employees, 16 commercial and industrial enterprises, over 3,000 sales partners, 17 trade stores across Egypt and about 600 after-sales service centres.
9. Memaar Al Morshedy
Segment: Real estate
Ownership: The Morshedy family
Memaar Al Morshedy is an Egypt-based real estate development company founded in 1983 by Mohamed Morshedy.
It provides a wide variety of real estate projects that ranges from economy-housing, middle-class housing, and up to premium accommodation all over Cairo and Giza.
His son, Hassan Morshedy (pictured), serves as the company’s chief executive.
10. Hassan Allam Holding
Ownership: The Allam family
Hassan Allam Holding is a leading privately owned engineering, construction and infrastructure company based in Egypt.
The holding was founded in 1936 by Hassan Allam as an informal construction company. It focuses on large-scale engineering and construction projects, building materials, electrical and utility investment and development.
The firm has a record 34,000+ employees in Egypt and the Middle East and North Africa.
Kamal Allam chairs the company’s 11-man board with five other family members also sitting on the board. They include Hassan, Amir, Samir, Hossam and Mohamed Allam.
11. Sipromad Group
Ownership: The Akbaraly family
Sipromad Group is a Madagascar-based conglomerate that has spanned three generations. The group is engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of mass consumer products.
It further diversified into services and technology in the early 2000s.
In 1972, Sermamod Akbaraly founded Sipromad as a retail business specialised in detergents.
In 2020, he entrusted Sipromad to his son, Ylias Akbaraly (pictured), who transformed it into today’s diversified corporation, Sipromad Group.
Ylias is the company’s chief executive.
12. Groupe SIFCA
Ownership: Pierre Billon
Country: Ivory Coast
SIFCA is an Ivorian agribusiness group co-founded in 1964 by Pierre Billon, Henri Tardivat and Aime Barou.
The company focuses on three business segments, including oil palm, sugar cane and natural rubber.
It has its operations in six countries, including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and France, where it has 10 subsidiaries with more than 33,000 employees.
In 2002, it entered into a strategic alliance with Michelin in the rubber sector.
13. Groupe Rawji
Ownership: The Rawji family
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Rawji Group is a leading diversified conglomerate based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The group operates as a dominant force in the financial services, distribution, FMCG manufacturing and real estate sectors. Mustafa Rawji (pictured), a fourth-generation member, works with his family on the corporate board.
Businesses include Rawbank, Beltexco (DRC’s largest trading company), Prodimpex, Hexagon, Parkland and Marsavco, plus a significant stake in CIMKO. This cement plant aims to provide the country with a reliable and stable source of cement supply.
14. Orientals Weavers Group
Ownership: The Khamis family
Revenue: $600 million
The Oriental Weavers Group is a Cairo-based carpet maker, one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers, founded in 1979 by industrialist and entrepreneur Mohammed Farid Khamis.
The group engages in the production, sale, and export of ready-made carpets.
Its products include area rugs, custom carpets, and Gobelin tapestry through segments including woven, tufted, non-woven felt, and fibres and handmade.
Oriental Weavers produces three grades (A, B, and C) of machine-woven carpets and rugs for the residential, commercial and hospitality industries.
It has offices in London and the US cities of Dalton, New York and Las Vegas.
Leading shareholders include Mohamed Farid Fouad Khamis, Farida Mohamed Farid Fouad Khamis, Yasmine Mohamed Farid Fouad Khamis.
15. Madhvani Group
Ownership: The Madhvani family
Revenue: $1 billion+
The Madhvani Group of Companies, commonly referred to as the Madhvani Group, is one of the largest conglomerates in Uganda founded in 1914 by Muljibhai Madhvani.
The group has investments in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Middle East, India and North America.
The business is involved in agriculture and agro-processing, steel, packaging, hotels and tourism, insurance, information technology, media and communication, construction, distribution of industrial products and consumer durables.
Family figures in the business include Muljibhai Madhvani, Jayant Madhvani, Manubhai Madhvani, Pratap Madhvani, Surendra Madhvani and Mayur Madhvani.
16. UBL Ltd
Ownership: The Lagesse family
Revenue: $124.72 million
IBL Ltd is the largest business group on the island nation of Mauritius. It started out in the country’s shipping and sugar industries in the 1830s. Today, it stands as one of the region’s largest diversified groups and working across nine business segments in 25 countries worldwide.
It is one of Mauritius’ largest private employers.
17. CIEL Group
Ownership: The Dalais family
Revenue: $516.55 million
CIEL Group is a Mauritius-based multinational investment company operating in five clusters, including agriculture, finance, healthcare, hotels and resorts, property and textiles.
The company mainly provides long-term growth and dividend income for distribution to investors. It invests in a diversified portfolio of equity and equity-related investments.
The group is present in more than 10 emerging markets across Africa and Asia.
The company generates most of its revenue from the textile segment. It exports more than 33 million garments annually and has production units in Mauritius, Madagascar, India and Bangladesh.
Arnaud Dalais (pictured) is the chairman and major shareholder in CIEL Group.
18. Export Trading Group
Ownership: The Mahesh Patel family
Revenue: $2.9 billion+ (2016)
Export Trading Group (ETG) is a diversified agricultural conglomerate specialising in farming, trading, and processing of agricultural commodities.
Mahesh Patel founded the company in 1967. It owns and manages a vertically integrated supply chain across five continents (48 countries).
ETG has emerged as one of Africas largest agricultural conglomerates. Patel serves as its chairman and chief executive.
19. ENL Group
Ownership: The Noel family
Revenue: $330 million (2015)
The ENL group is a Mauritius-based conglomerate founded a century ago by Martial Henri Rene Noel.
It is a broad-based enterprise developing and managing a portfolio of more than 120 international and homegrown brands in industries including agro-industry, real estate, hospitality, logistics, fintech, commerce and manufacturing.
The fifth generation of Noels manages the family-run public company. Hector Espitalier-Noel (pictured) has served as the head of ENL Group for nearly three decades.
20. ABC Group
Ownership: The Ah Chuen family
Revenue: $47.17 Million (2020)
ABC Group is a leading conglomerate in Mauritius founded in 1931 by Sir Moilin Jean Ah Chuen. It is a closely-held family empire.
The company started its operations as a retail grocery store in Port Louis opposite the Central Market under the name ABC, meaning “Au Bazar Central” (At the Central Marketplace) and “Aux Bonnes Choses.”
The business operates in five main industries: automobile, banking, financial and insurance services, foods, and shipping and logistics.
21. Bidco Africa
Ownership: The Shah family
Revenue: $500 million+
Bidco Africa is a Kenya-based multinational conglomerate founded in 1970 by Bhimji Depar Shah (pictured) and his family to manufacture garments.
But over the years, the group has grown to become East Africa’s leading FMCG company. With more than 40 brands, it is the largest producer and marketer of consumer goods in the region.
Its headquarters is in Thika, Kenya, with subsidiaries and distributors across 17 countries in East Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa.
Its products include edible oils, fats, margarine, laundry bars and detergents, personal care products, animal feeds, and food and beverages.
22. NASCO Group
Ownership: The Nasreddin family
Revenue: $540 million
The NASCO Group was founded in 1963 by Eritrean businessman Ahmed Idris Nasreddin.
It started its operation with the establishment of a jute bag factory in Jos, Nigeria. This was the first in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The company manufactures and distributes brands across the food and household sectors.
Idris Nasreddin passed a few months back. His son Attia Nasreddin serves as chief executive.
23. MeTL Group
Ownership: The Dewji family
Revenue: $1 billion+
Gulamabbas Dewji founded Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL) Group in 1970 as a small trading company.
It is Tanzania’s largest home-grown company, with a presence in 11 countries in Africa, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
MeLT’s interest spans manufacturing, agriculture, infrastructure, trading, mobile telephony, financial services, transport, infotech and distribution.
Mohammed (Mo) Dewji (pictured), Tanzania’s richest man, drives the company he inherited from his father.
24. Bakhresa Group
Ownership: The Bakhresa Family
Revenue: $800 million (2016)
Bakhresa Group is an industrial conglomerate based in Dar es Salam, Tanzania.
The company is owned by Tanzanian multimillionaire Said Salim Bakhresa, whose four sons serve as executive directors on the company’s board.
The group is one of the largest in the region, with operations spread in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
It has investments in agribusiness, beverages, logistics, media, oil trading, recycling, entertainment and packaging.
25. Elnefeidi Group
Ownership: The Elnefeidi family
Elnefeidi group is a Sudanese family-owned business founded in 1934 by the late Haj Bashir Elnefeidi (pictured).
Elnefeidi started small as a soap maker but has grown into an industrialised group that has experienced decades of transformations and expansion in the agriculture, logistics, automotive, commercial food, real estate, electronics and aviation industries.
The group’s operations and affiliates span Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Amin Bashir Elnefeidi serves as the group’s president.