Kenyan billionaire Manu Chandaria, one of the richest businessmen in the country, made headlines when he appeared on Jeff Koinange Live on Citizen TV and revealed his minimalist lifestyle.
Despite being worth around Sh. 30 billion, the tycoon claimed to own only five suits and a single watch that he used for over past 65 years.
Chandaria, whose business interests extend across 11 African countries, explained that he borrows his simplicity from Mahatma Gandhi. His wardrobe consists of just five suits, with one coming in and one going out as he gives the discarded suit away.
The practice of giving away one item when acquiring another is a lesson he learned from Gandhi.
During the interview, Chandaria also admitted that he is not a meat lover and instead prefers a simple diet. He stated that his modest lifestyle is aimed at offering service to the community.
“If I were to live my life all over again, I would serve people more than I serve myself.” The businessman added, “Be successful and be quiet about it. Be humble always, be ambitious and stay content. Life is not just you and your family, always be available to extend a hand.” He stated.
Chandaria’s simple lifestyle may surprise many, given his business success. However, the philanthropist offered a glimpse into his modest life during a past interview with the media.
He revealed that he wakes up at 6 am, switches on his house systems, goes through his mail, papers, and work schedule, all of which are meticulously planned and organized into three different folders.
Staff bring Chandaria’s breakfast of fruit and juice to his home office, which he enjoys before taking his medication. He then stretches his back muscles with the aid of a staffer and walks to his wardrobe, which only contains five suits.
He selects one to wear based on his schedule for the day and keeps four to six extra shirts. He owns just one wallet and two belts, one black and one brown.
After getting ready, Chandaria takes a specially built lift downstairs and leaves for work. He revealed that his life is a lesson on giving and an extension of the principles advocated and lived by Mother Teresa, who was a frequent guest at their home before her death in 1997.
Chandaria gave away the suits he no longer uses, as it is a lesson about giving that he learned from Gandhi. Chandaria followed Gandhi’s teachings during his time at university and accepted everything the Indian independence leader taught them.
Gandhi led a very simple life, and Chandaria seems to have taken this lesson to heart.
Chandaria’s philanthropic work has been extensive, with his foundations supporting education, health, and environment-related causes. He is a co-founder of the Chandaria Foundation, which seeks to reduce poverty and inequality in Kenya by supporting sustainable development initiatives.
The foundation’s projects range from building classrooms and libraries to providing access to clean water and improving sanitation in slums.
The Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre, located at the Kenyatta University, is another example of his philanthropy.
The center offers training and mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs and has helped to launch several successful start-ups in Kenya.