Manu Chandaria: Excellence – Made in Kenya

Manu Chandaria - by Jerry RileyDr. Manu Chandaria is a year short of celebrating his 80th birthday. If we are to work with stereotypical behaviour, we would expect that by now he would have taken a back seat from his vast business and philanthropy interests. Yet, his pace has yet to slacken, and he puts in as much time he did in the mid 50’s when he came back from USA after studying a Masters in Engineering and taking up the family business mantle.

He is the Chairman of the Chandaria Group of Companies, a family concern that is also a huge empire operating in over 43 countries worldwide. He is also the Chairman of The Chandaria Foundation started in 1952 by his family which focuses on helping the less fortunate in the community.

Manu Chandaria - By Jerry RileyHis early years were spent at his father’s provisional store along Nairobi’s famous Biashara Street, he lived briefly in Mombasa and then in a one-roomed house in Ngara during pre-independence Kenya. In those days Muthaiga, an affluent Nairobi suburb, was still an exclusively European affair flagged by a huge forbidding signpost that read “Trespassers will be Prosecuted.” Lolling around on the beaches of Nyali was also reserved for the Europeans only. If Asians or Africans wanted to take a dip they had to take a boat into the sea and get off at the reef and swim in the open seas of the Indian Ocean. Therefore, it was ironic sitting in his lounge in his home in the Muthaiga suburb where less than half a century ago none of us would have been allowed into the area at all, or worse still allowed to fraternize.

The Muthaiga sign came down after 1955 when he had already married his wife Aruna Chandaria mother of his three children and his best friend. This is by far one of the most obvious fruits of independence that Kenya reaped, our ability to thrive on diversity.

But what is Dr. Chandaria’s key to success?

“At an early age I realized I would never be great at sports, so I made up for it in my studies,” he said.

Manu Chandaria - by Jerry RileyHis father had moved to Kenya in 1916 as a merchant with a provisions store along Biashara Street. They also delved into the manufacturing business by buying into an aluminium plant called KaluWorks. His parents made a lot of sacrifices to educate them well and Dr Manu, with some of his family members took over the running of Kalu Works once they finished their education. At first they were overwhelmed at the level of work required to run a successful business enterprise. However, they also felt a strong sense of responsibility and recognized the struggles that had to be endured first by their parents to acquire the plant and then by the children to make it a success.

Strapped with this determination, they woke early everyday and opened the doors for the plant workers by 7.30am. As management, they put in 16 to18-hour days and within 5 years the business grew from 40 employees to over 800 employees. In time they amassed a collection of other plants around the world; and by 1980 the business expanded to almost all continents.

Manu Chandaria by Jerry RileyEven today, nearly 30 years later, Manu still puts in 16-hour days at work.

He attributes much of their success to the exposure that he acquired while studying abroad which opened his mind to new ideas. He is also influenced by his strong religious upbringing in the Jain doctrines that are principled on a pious and moderate lifestyle. He has never had the need for ostentation or excesses.

Another side of Dr. Chandaria is his work in the community. He has always seen the need to give opportunity to Kenyan youth so that they can have the chance to live to their full potential. He is involved with several charity organizations and works with them to raise the quality of life; a feat that he feels all Kenyans with means should be involved in. Dr. Chandaria was on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s honour list in 2003 and in 2006 he was granted Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition for his work in the community and his promotion of Kenyan – British economic interest in Kenya.

Manu Chandaria - by Jerry RileyHe also feels that the corporate world has a duty for giving back to the community.

“We need to realize, as the private sector, that we have the responsibility to accept making money and looking after ourselves but in addition we need to also care for the community and our country Kenya at large.”

With this in mind, it is not surprisingly to see him busy involved with projects ranging from rehabilitation of street families, to educational trusts that expand opportunities for the less fortunate in Kenya.

“The real key to success for the youth in Kenya is to open their minds to good ideas that can have a multiplier effect,” he explains

Manu Chandaria by Jerry Riley“Zero multiplied by zero will always be zero. You can’t get something out of nothing. We need to expand our ideas – two multiplied by two is four and four multiplied by four is sixteen and so on. That is the true secret to success!” says Dr. Chandaria.

According to him, the government, the corporate world and individuals need to learn to harness the potential of the youth in Kenya by equipping them with skills that will help build them as strong capable citizens, and allowing them to use these tools to help secure the future of our beloved nation.

Manu Chandaria by Jerry RileyHis message to the youth of Kenya is to learn to set themselves free from the web of dependency. Grants or aid is only provided to sow the seed of our ambitions then we need to begin to think of ways to attain financial independence with hard work and winning ideas.

And his vision for Kenya?

“Among all our neighbours in East and Central Africa, Kenya is still a notch higher even without any real natural wealth. Our main asset is human resources, intelligence and goodness of heart. We Kenyans are the true source of wealth in this region. We just need to realize this and then we can make it.”


  1. I have heard a lot about you and i always dream of being an enterprenuer like you.You are an inspiration.
    Thank you for helping young people.

  2. steve mkangi says:

    your a great person..iam seeing plenty of my brothers and sisters asking for assistance.Its my believe that they get your attention but please create a forum where they can plead for help more privately to you…its not fair that they have to get your attention through a place reserved for public viewing.iam a philanthropist also and was wondering how we could partner in assisting people in Taita/taveta region

  3. P. Githinji says:

    May Dr. Manu live long to show that one can be industrious, wealthy and at the same time think about the poor. You know what, God makes people successful so that He can use them to reach to others’ who need help in society. Many are as successful and wealthy like Dr. Manu or even wealthier, but close their eyes to the poor. Does it really make sense to make all the money , only to leave it all after passing on? Thank you Daktari and keep on. I believe the other secret to your success is not because you work for long hours. It’s because your giving touches God,who in return multiplies the work of your hands.

    Daktari indeed you have a big heart. Thanks for all that are doing for the poor children in Kenya. I work and i am committed to these children too. It’s so rewarding to see a child’s life transformed.

    Thank you


    My family and I are one of the large number of beneficiaries of Shriman Manu Chandaria,s Vision and Adminstrative abilities.

    Can never forget the day he interviewed me at Ashoka Hotel, Bangalore in 1977, for a Profit Center Manager position in one of the Comcraft Group Companies in Tanzania.

    Nor the day 1n 1979 he came to visit Galco Factory – walked straight into the Workers’ Toilet to see if it was maintained as clean as the rest of the factory. Very meticulous.

    Exceptional Unity among family members, and a transparent appreciation and respect for all their staff is one of the main pillars of the group’s success. Before entering an expatriate manager’s room, there will be knock and “may i disturb you” ?


    bangalore -india


    I truely admire what you stand for. Millions you youth East of Nairobi and in Kenya at large look upon you for advice. Kindly and at your convinience , please advice how i could reach you……. we would be delighted to come together and invite you for a mentoring talk. it will make all the difference. thanks

  6. Jayanti Galaiya says:

    On my recent trip to India My father gave me a book by Dr.Kumarpal Desai a biography of Premchand Sheth. I finished the book in one sitting. I always new Premchand Sheth was larger than life, however I found lot more in this book. Thanks to you, Aruna ben and Dr. Desai. My uncle, and fahter’s fua Bharmal Rayshi did in fact had business with Premchand Sheth. I have never been to Kenya. I am well settled in USA, a founding member of Halari visha Oshwal of America and also was a founding president of non-profit HVO of America.

    Reason for my e-mail: I wanted to let you know that there ought to be a larger than life statue of Premchand Sheth in Jamanagar may be near police chalky out side has bungalow. I am sure you do not need my help, however if I can be of nay assistance, please let me know.

  7. WANYONYI says:

    thanks for the woirk you have been doing its so amazing all 80 years ?may God bless u to add again 80 years .Am doing diploma in methodist university in business adminstration but only my mum who was supposed to pay the involved in road accident last year and now is bedriden ,sponsor me dear and Iwould be so greatfull

  8. sir,

    you are great and may GOd bless you.

    i have a project that could save this country millions of litres of water and feel that i could patner with one of your plastic companies to further develop and implement the project.

    i would appreciate if any of your innovative managers could get in touch with me.

    thank you and i am waiting to hear from you.

  9. Dear sir,i a an engineering student at the university of parents are unable to raise my fees.I request for an assistance in paying my wish is to get educated so that i can assist others in future.i shall appreciate if u communicate back to me.Thanks in advance sir. God bless you.

  10. george karanja says:

    dear sir
    am delighted at how you are doing in helping the needy realise their potential may you continue with this spirit

    i am a student at strathmore university who is going through hard times in raising the fees i would be very glad if you can assist me in paying the fees.

    thanks in advance and may God bless you

  11. Simatwa korroria says:

    Hi Dr. Chandaria,

  12. Simatwa korroria says:

    Hi Dr. Chandaria,
    I am pleased to have you on web.
    Let me say “God bless you aburndandly” for your work keeep it up.
    Am a self-sponsored in University of Nairobi-Bachelor of Commerce is my course.
    I seek your help towards raising may school fees becouse it has been my majoe problem toward achieving my carieer.
    Looking forwad to your response.Thanx.

  13. Krishnendu Banerjee says:

    Respected Sir,
    My name is Krishnendu. I am working in ugnada for a cement and steel manufacturing company as Marketing Manager . I have more than 10 years exposure in african continent with marketing, sales, Operational experience. I am looking for a beeter chnage in your esteemed group anywhere in Africa. My contact number is +256-772-790999 and contact email id is
    Kinldy give me a scope to serve youresteemed organisation. By profession I am a degree (Mech.) engineer and MBA (mktng.).
    Awaiting your response at earliest.

    Best regards,

  14. lilian njoki maina says:

    How are you sir? my name is Lilian and i received admission to kenyatta university (supposed to have joined 3rd may 2010) but due to lack of fees am still at home.I come from a very poor family (single parent) and was only able to make through high school due to help from well-wishers and bursaries.Am the only one who is educated in our family and i want to break this seemingly vicious cycle of poverty.Am open to any scrutiny to show that all am saying is the truth and nothing but the truth.Thank you in advance as you purpose to assist me.Thank you again

  15. David Nganga says:

    Dr Chandaria i was about to lose hope in life but after reading all the struggles that u went through i have really been motivated.please daktari am a kenyan aged 18 and did ma kcse in 2009,i scored an A-.i plan to pursue economics but don have de means coz i hail from a poor background.please through your foundation can u assist contact is 0715678410.have a wonderful 80th birthday,may God multiply ur years.

  16. richard says:

    for sure if the world had 10 more men like you, the world would be a better place to live in. thank you for the encouragement. Do you hold motivational talks with the youth in colleges and universities?

  17. God bless you and your family and the generation now and forever|
    Excellent work and congratulation, keep up, for it the Almighty God that is rewarding you.
    I AM CALLED MICHAEL OSANO OKODA, and currently running a college called Comptiah College of Professional Studies which is situated in Kisumu City. The college is offering Community Sponsored post secondary training program to the orphans,widows and and the vulnerable. So far we have 350 students, both boys and girls. This year we enrolled 69 candidates in Diploma and Certificate Exams. The performance is yet to be determined since they sat the KNEC Exams in July 2010. Out of the 25 candidates who sat for ATC and CPA exams in May 2010, 22 candidate passed and 3 candidates had referrals.
    Sir our mission is to assist the vulnerable youths by empowering them through quality education and skills development training programme.
    In order to achieve the goal, the college has teamed up with individuals, groups, the Government and other organizations in supporting the programme through various contributions in form of equipments; like desks, Computers, Projectors,Generators for lighting up the school, cash, and any other support which can give these youths the hope.

    Sir in view of the enormous projects you are undertaking all over through your Foundation, am convinced that this project will touch your innermost part of your heart and would be able to give your generous contribution towards it.

    Our main problem is that we currently operating in a leased building which we have to pay for every month at a cost of 400,000/=. We have hired teachers from various institutes and we are paying them salaries every month. The task is enormous and we really need any support from any quarters.

    Sir you are a philanthropist and Godly in nature and with regard to your contributions we have unanimously agreed to Honour you by inviting you to join us by becoming our patron in the project.

    Thank You

    Contact: 0720362523

    Contact: 0721848345

  18. FREDRICK ODUOR says:

    I am a kenyan citizen KCSE graduate with a strong C+ MEAN GRADE.Ive always wanted to study engineering at any level.I joined KENYA POLYTECHNIC for a diploma in Mechanical Engineering(plant) cource in 2009 but one year latter im back home after i ran out of school fees.i.e i exhausted all my savings.i have tried applying for apprenticeship with various companies like EABL,Athi River Mining,and many more but all has been in vein.please Dactari i beg for your assistance,ill be readily availlable to sign any relevant if there might be.

    P.O.BOX 629 NAIROBI -00515

  19. Maryanne Akinyi says:

    I heard your story on k24, you were being interviewed by Jeff Koinange .Your story is amazing.You are God sent,the good lord continue to bless you always.I have received admission to JKUAT to study mass communication after five long years at home.Sir can you please help me?My colleagues begun school a week ago the school has given me an allowance of one week,if i shall not have made my payments by then my admission will be terminated.I am the first born child,my mother was diagnosed with several ailments including cancer.Please sir if you can do come to my rescue my number is 0721867991.Thank you.

  20. nyaundi perminus says:

    Hi Dr. Chandaria, am akenyan citizen of age 22 years, having done may KCSE the year 2005 and schored B-,I had stayed for 4 years without joining college till i almost burried my hopes of becoming aperson kenya can rely on development and changing the face of kenya for the best.Through hard work i managed to raise some amount which made me go for one semester in kisii university college BED SCIENCE.becase of extreme poverty am unable to make next step for another semister. here now comes my humble request to you DOCTOR,your good acts speak by themselves and that makes you blessed,please include me in your programme of scholarships so that i can manage to accomplish my vission and help my needy, 0727150778.

  21. Dear Sir/ Madam. I hunbly requesting you to assist me to accomplish my dream. I was educated at Argwings Kodhek Secondary School, where I obtained K.C.S.E certificate with a mean grade of B (minus). Now I am astudent at Trans Eastern Airlines Aviation College pursuing Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering. I am in my third year, with a fee balance of ninety five thousand which I am required to pay before sitting for final exams in November 2010. I hail from ahumble family, my parent are peasents. I highly appreciate your response into this respect. Looking forward to hear from you. Yours faithfully George Odongo Ojero.

  22. wiliam masore says:

    am a student of great lakes university of kisumu-Nairobi campus.
    i have raised kshs 150,000 for college fees.currently

    am unable to raise the balance which is 300,000.
    am currently denied to do exams. please as the chairman of chandaria foundation come to my aid.
    yours faithful,
    William masore
    student no-mchd/j-10/20

  23. Well done.Kindly contact me

  24. Gerald Muturi says:

    Dear Sir,
    I must appreciate the good work you are doing to help the unfortunate in the society.

    I am the 1st born in a family of 4 boys. I did my KCSE last year and obtained a C + . I have been given a chance to enrol for diploma course in journalism at Kenya Institute of Mass Communication for a period of three years. All my other siblings are in school, two in secondary school and the other one in primary school.

    I am appealling for financial assistance to enable me fulfil my dream. I look forward for a positive response from you.

    Long life Chandaria Foundation.


  25. Alpha Ogilo says:

    Dear Sir,

    I wish to request you to kindly sponsor me for my aviation training at ninety nines flying club, here in Kenya. It is located at Wilson Airport. I kindly request to be sponsored for the commercial pilot’s license training, which costs 1.97 million Kenya shillings. The total cost for aviation Training at ninety nines flying club is 2.5 million Kenya shillings. Through my hard work, dedication and God’s grace, I have been able to raise the remaining 0.53 million Kenya shillings, which is for the private pilot’s license, through family and friends contribution.

    Being a Pilot has always been my lifelong dream but despite having excelled in my Education, the fees required to join and complete the pilot training course has been a hurdle for me because I cannot afford it. I believe my chosen profession will enable me to fulfill all of my desires to help others, to continuously expand my knowledge base and skills and to travel the world.

    Education has always been an important aspect of my life. Throughout my life I have participated in extracurricular activities including valuable volunteer experiences. I have striven for academic excellence, always wishing to make the most of my education. In addition, I have managed to work to provide for some of the basic expenses that students have.

    Throughout my Primary and High School, I maintained a high level of academic achievements, while volunteering for community service. I enjoyed the arts and was involved in art and drama, especially in Primary school. Despite the time consuming practices for music festivals, I was able to get 416 marks out of 500 in my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education. I then proceeded to high school, where I graduated with a mean grade of A (minus) in my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education. Not only was I involved in academics and the arts, I was also involved in sports. I played for my high school table tennis team and I was able to win the National championship in table tennis twice in a row that is in 2006 and 2007.

    I am currently enrolled at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture And Technology, in my 2nd year, pursuing Geomatic Engineering. Attending college has liberated me and allowed me to not only explore a wider array of subjects, but also to explore myself. My personal achievements exceed beyond school. During my long break holidays, I worked for Mikalmat construction services as a manual labourer and later as a record keeper, so as to provide for my pocket money for school. I worked roughly 30 hours a week. Through this experience I learned to work with others and it has shaped me into a responsible adult. I also learned what it means to work hard and how to motivate myself to carry on despite difficulties.

    In addition to my employment, I also continue to volunteer with I Choose Life Africa, in their anti-HIV/AIDS stigma campaigns and other HIV/AIDS related issues in different Universities in Kenya. Ever since I volunteered as an intern with the organization, it has been the most rewarding experience at this point in my life, because I have learnt a lot about HIV/AIDS and other life issues.

    My goal is to become the best Pilot that I can be, but this can only happen to me through your generous contribution.

    Thank you very much for your attention to all these matters and for your consideration of my application. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

  26. Namaste Sri Manu Chandaria.
    Thank you for the wondeful seva the Chandaria group is doing for humanity and planet earth.
    We are a beneficiary of the Chandaria Foundation support in Nigeria.The foundation has supported the SEVA Homeless feeding programs in Nigeria and the W/Africa Vegetarian Congress in 2007.
    We are holding the 1st East Africa Vegetarian Congress programs in Nairobi on Dec 4 & 18 and SEVA feeding programs in East Africa.We kindly request for the Chandaria Foundation support for the congress and the East Africa SEVA Feeding programs.
    I will be Nairobi soon for the East Africa Vegetarian programs and the SEVA Feeding events and I plan to contact the Chandaria Foundation.
    With warm regards.
    Emmanuel Eyoh
    IVU Africa Regional Coordinator
    Food For Global Africa Representative.

  27. Deepak Gupta says:

    I am serious looking for a job in any one of your companies in africa, please let me have your email ID so that I can forward you my CV.

    Respected Regards,

    Deepak Gupta

  28. Wambugu Mwai says:

    Dr. Manu, I had a chance to have seen you, though at a far distance when in my days at the UoN (1994-8). I would like first to congratulate you for being so hardworking and steadfast to raising a family empire of this magnitude. At this juncture when the management of our resources has been devolved to the counties there is need to have new ways of engaging with the various peoples’ in ensuring that industrial and manufacturing growth goes hand in hand with the growth in infrastructure, economic growth and so on…
    We need to safeguard our investments, productions and the gains that have come with the stability of our economy. However, we do feel that the gains should be shared by a wider populace for continued growth and development of the same.
    For purposes of rescuing Kenya and putting it on the world map we need to ensure that we don’t import what we produce and we are capable of producing locally. Therefore, we shall cater for some of the challenges facing our country including employment, underemployment, insecurity,etc. All this calls for proper leadership at the national and county levels.
    We are a team of young Kenyans that is interested in seeing this reaches a fruitful end. As such we strongly wish to have a meeting with you, possibly before year end 2010.
    We can be reached on 0722 689 108 (Wambugu), 0721 519 609 (Gakuya)

  29. Hi Dr.

    First, i did not think i could have gotten a chance to communicate to you directly, but through this i can. The Only God who created you and sees after you is the same God who will bless, keep you strong, give you vision and ideas. I just want to Respect your wife, because she has been your pillar as you go around in your creditious work. Finally, i am not asking anything from you but through me i have asked God to bless you, your family and those that are close to you.. God Bless you

    0726 130820

  30. Hi Dr.

    First, i did not think i could have gotten a chance to communicate to you directly, but through this i can. The Only God who created you and sees after you is the same God who will bless, keep you strong, give you vision and ideas. I just want to Respect your wife, because she has been your pillar as you go around in your creditious work. Finally, i am not asking anything from you but through me i have asked God to bless you, your family and those that are close to you.. God Bless you

    0726 130820

  31. pramod kumar says:

    Respected Sir,
    My name is Pramod kumar. I am working in india for a steel manufacturing company as assistant Manager . I have more than 9 years exposure in india continent with project, maintenance experience. I am looking for a beeter chnage in your esteemed group anywhere in Africa. My contact number is +91-9050280557 and contact email id is
    Kinldy give me a scope to serve youresteemed organisation. By profession I am a deploma (Mech.) engineer.
    Awaiting your response at earliest.

    Best regards,
    pramod kumar


  1. […] estimated to be worth $2.5 billion. Chandaria’s father moved to Kenya in 1916 and opened a provisions store in Nairobi and later invested in an aluminium plant called KaluWorks. Chandaria, alongside other […]

  2. […] I sat with the CTO of Vodafone Ghana Patricia Obo-Nai.  and Dr. Manu chandaria, the chairman of the Chandaria group of companies,  an investment with an employee base of over 50,000( oh yes, 50,000)  in all the seven continents of the world […]

  3. […] I sat with the CTO of Vodafone Ghana Patricia Obo-Nai.  and Dr. Manu chandaria, the chairman of the Chandaria group of companies,  an investment with an employee base of over 50,000( oh yes, 50,000)  in all the seven continents of the world […]

  4. […] estimated to be worth $2.5 billion. Chandaria’s father moved to Kenya in 1916 and opened a provisions store in Nairobi and later invested in an aluminium plant called KaluWorks. Chandaria, alongside other […]