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A brief biography
FROM FACTORY WORKER TO TYCOON & RENOWNED GURU
Apart from being a business tycoon who has established an empire of $650 million, Narendra Raval, 56, is also a ‘guru’ for the high and mighty of Africa. Raval, a native of Maathak in Surendranagar district, is known as an expert palmist and astrologer of Kenyan presidents and other African grandees.
Raval, whose companies have business interests in various African countries, recently launched his autobiography, “Guru: A Long Walk to Success”. He says in the book a chance meeting in Nakuru in 1983 with then-Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi started an enduring relationship.
“I shared my interest in palmistry and astrology with His Excellency after which he extended an open invitation to the State House,” Raval says in the book, slated to be launched in India soon. “Over the years, I became a political advisor …to…Presidents Hon. Moi and Hon. Kibaki before and during their tenures.”
“Thanks to my proximity to President Moi, I had the privilege of being associated with many great leaders. I have successfully advised presidents of other African countries such as Tanzania and Congo,” Raval said. He said he also counselled the heads of some European nations. He said all African countries have their own methods to see the future but his belief in Indian astrology and his accurate predictions made him popular among politicians.
The autobiography’s foreword is written by Kenya’s current President Uhuru Kenyatta. PM Narendra Modi has also sent a message for the book.
Raval got his ‘guru’ moniker due to his early days as a priest in Bhuj. He shifted to Kenya in 1982. “I’ll call it destiny. I have never charged for palmistry or astrology,” he said. “I started in a steel factory in Kenya. Back then, my wife and I dreamed of having our own shop.”
2015, Conferred one of its highest Kenyan title, `Elder of the Burning Spear'
The Times of India, Jul 18 2015
From assistant priest to Kenya's steel tycoon
Gujarati bizman conferred Kenya's highest honour
He has earned the sobriquet `Guru' amongst his peers in Kenya.With a net worth of $650 million, Gujarati steel tycoon Narendra Raval (53) of Devki Group is one of the wealthiest businessmen of Kenya. The Kenyan government recognized his contribution and conferred one of its highest title, `Elder of the Burning Spear', on him. But Raval is known more for his benevolence than his riches.
Hailing from a small town called Maathak in Surendranagar, Gujarat, Raval told ToI that in his recently written will he has pledged half of his yearly profits almost Rs 250 crore per annum of his companies for education, nutrition and health in Kenya and rest of Africa, after his death.
“I am deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. I believe that wealth should be considered as a trust of the whole society and as trustees, individuals should use it for the benefit of society,“ says Raval, who is now in Ahmedabad to attend a social engagement and recruitment drive.
Almost 37 years ago, like many other Gujarati immigrants, Raval went to Kenya and started working as an assistant priest in Swaminarayan temple in Kisumu. Postmarriage, in 1982, he took up a job at a hardware shop in Nairobi and by 1990 he had his own shop in the Gikomba market.
“My wife Neeta and I toiled 18 hours a day . Life was tough,“ says Raval. In 1992, Ravals forayed into roofing and fencing solutions business with the help of a $70,000 loan. That same year he set up a small steel rolling mill near Athi River.Then, there were very few such mills in Kenya. Today Raval owns four steel plants and two cement companies in Kenya, and in strife-torn Ethiopia, Uganda and Congo, that produce 7.5 lakh tonnes of steel per annum.
Narendra Raval, through his pragmatic business ideologies and philanthropy , aims to transform the once-hostile perception of Africans about Indian businessmen. His company employs 98% staff from local Kenyan and African populace and also runs many orphanages and schools for the underprivileged.
Rawal recently helped construct bore wells in water-starved Kenyan villages.His benevolence won him UK's philanthropy award, which was conferred on him at 10 Downing Street by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg in 2012.
“Indians are honest, hardworking and loyal -qualities that have potential to make success of a person anywhere in the world,“ says Raval.