coffee with

Mohammed Dewji: ‘Do I want to be president? No, I’m an entrepreneur’

By Nicholas Norbrook

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Posted on April 3, 2020 14:20

TAR111_p10_COFFEEWITH_DEWJI_732x419 copy © Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji
Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji

We are at an upmarket hotel in central London, a stone’s throw from Hyde Park. Tanzanian businessman Mohammed Dewji is prompt, smiling and wearing his trademark chunky glasses.

We grab a table and an (excellent) espresso. No one dis­agrees about the comfortable global dominance of East African arabica. So far, so normal.

Dewji started life on the kitchen table: his mother caught short, the hospital in the rural area of Singida too far. His early years did not, he says, isolate him from the realities of rural life in Tanzania.

After a stay in the US, first with the ambition to be a golf pro, then studying theology, then working on Wall Street, he returned home to join MeTL, the trading company launched by his grandmother and run by his father. “My dad’s business was doing well, but I didn’t realise that it wasn’t managed very well,” he says, after paying due deference to his family.

Micromanager in the making

This turned him into a micromanager, but was also the making of him, forcing him to rethink the corporate governance of the entire enterprise.


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