Ugandan-born Lord Rumi Verjee, a UK tycoon

Mum and dad taught me that you don’t mess with education. Because with it comes knowledge, responsibility, and that basically, anything is possible

Rumi with Prince Charles

So I was lucky to be born in such a family, a very disciplined family with a strict work ethic and many mentors.

My mother, a small town humble woman from Tanga in Tanzania, was a nurturer through and through, and was always involved in community work.

I was also greatly influenced by my grandmother Mitibai, also from Tanga. A great businesswoman and community leader, she taught me the importance of women’s education and the important role they play in the community.

Back to my mum, I learned especially from her the importance of being humble and treating everyone with respect, regardless of social status or otherwise.

So, even though we were a wealthy family, I, along with my two older brothers Rasool and Shaffique, learned not to get high on it. 

How Ugandan-born Lord Verjee became a UK tycoon

By Nigel M. Nassar. Publish Date: Oct 07, 2014

The day was August 4, 1972 – just another day in the high-and-mighty confusion of then Ugandan president Idi Amin Dada, the self-proclaimed Conqueror of the British Empire. The despotic leader’s paranoia hit fever pitch, and he made a split-second decision to expel Asians from Uganda, the majority of whom Indian. Among the approximately 80,000 who left in haste was the Verjee family, including the little boy Rumi Verjee, then 15 years old.

It has been 42 years since the expulsion. Today, that little boy, born in Uganda and now a British citizen, is a highly-respected business magnate and philanthropist with an estimated net worth of £125m (sh541b) as of 2013. That icing on the cake comes from a 1984 incident, when as a 27-year-old, Verjee, without any capital, accosted the American founder of Domino’s Pizza and persuaded him to sell him (Verjee) the franchising rights to Domino’s Pizza in the UK. The rest is all history, as this move catapulted him onto a property-acquisition spree around the world; a spree that has now brought him back to Uganda with charity and investment plans. And those plans involve building East Africa’s biggest satellite city in Kampala.

It is these plans that he was in Uganda for recently when we interviewed him. For a tip of the iceberg, Verjee is the proprietor of Thomas Goode & Co. Limited, a retailer of upmarket china, glass and silverware in Mayfair, an A-list zone of central London. He also owns Brompton Capital Limited, one of about 10 property development, investment and holding companies spread across the world. His charity arm, The Rumi Foundation, has extended a helping hand to about 40 initiatives around the world from its main hub in the UK to parts of East Africa, India, and South America.

With such successes, I always look at giving back as a legacy of my family, and I feel fortunate to be in a position where I can give something back. That is why in 2006, I founded The Rumi Foundation (www.rumifoundation.com ) to facilitate our family ethos of charity. And we intend to make sure it grows from one generation to the next. That’s why my two nephews, Jay and Simon Verjee, work with the foundation. 

Discover, Explore and Leran more at New Vision | How Ugandan-born Lord Vejee became a UK tycoon

Rumi - Simon Verjee

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