Ally Awadh is one of Tanzania’s most prominent businessmen. He is the founder of Lake Oil Group, one of East and Central Africa’s fastest-growing energy trading and transportation conglomerates.
His entrepreneurial journey began when he was a student at Brock University, Canada. Awadh had just reached out to his father, requesting an extra allowance.
His father, a successful businessman in Tanzania, was so irritated and scolded him, asking him to work and start earning money on his own.
“My father basically got tired of me always calling him to ask for more money, so one day, he bluntly told me on the phone that I was an adult, and if I wanted any money, I needed to start working for it. It was a reality check for me,” Awadh told Forbes.
Awadh never thought his father’s bitterness would awaken him from being a young boy to a go-getter. He got his first job at Mcdonald’s in Canada, where he would serve customers after classes.
While in this job, he realized he could make money while studying. He also learned how to interact with customers, something that made him thrive in all his ventures. He saved all the money he earned, “building a nest egg for the future.”
After completing his University studies, Awadh immediately got into entrepreneurship. He started the second-hand cloth business popularly known as Mitumba, building an empire at the age of 23.
Awadh would import second-hand clothes from Canada to sell in Tanzania. His business started profiting on the first consignment, giving him enough capital to diversify his ventures.
He later engaged in the Truck business, where he would import used and refurbished Trucks to his home country in Tanzania from the United Kingdom.
He later diverted into the milk processing business, which he subsequently sold. At 25, Awadh was already a dollar millionaire. At this time, he decided to explore opportunities in the transport sector.
At 26, he applied for a license to import refined petroleum products. Given his tender age, his application was like a joke to Tanzania’s Petroleum Bulk Procurement Agency (PBPA) employees.
“I was clearly very young, so when I went to the PBPA and asked them to give me a license, this particular guy sized me up and told me I was not serious. He could not believe someone so young wanted to get involved in the bulk oil import business. But then he looked at our balance sheet and our track record in business, and we clearly had the capacity to play in this business.”
His application won a nod, paving way for the founding of the Lake Oil Group in 2006. Awadh acquired loans that helped him to build gas stations across Tanzania.
He also extended his services into the country’s rural areas, boosting the transport sector in the region. Lake Oil Group has widely grown, with a physical presence across East and Central Africa, including Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique, and DRC.
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In Kenya, the firm acquired all fuel stations of Hashi Energy in 2017 following approval by the Competition Authority of Kenya.
Lake Oil Group, through its cooking gas subsidiary Lake Gas, is credited for popularizing cooking gas among Tanzania’s rural population.
The firm has extended into the construction industry and manufactures steel and premix concrete. These, among other investments, elevate Awadh to the list of the top five wealthy people in Tanzania.
The 43-year-old is also one of Tanzania’s biggest philanthropists, who has impacted millions of lives through his Lake Oil Foundation.
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