Mukwano Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer Amirali Karmali died on Wednesday evening at his home in Fort Portal.
Who was Amirali Karmali?
Born on 25th December 1938 in Bukandula, Gomba district, Amirali Karmali was commonly known as Mzee Mukwano.
His title of Mzee Mukwano was due to the relationship of his father with Kabaka Edward Mutesa who referred to his father as “Mukwano Wa Baganda”. The name stayed with the family and it is the brand for all his companies.
Karmali never left Uganda even after the expulsion of the Asians in 1972. He started his life as a lorry driver with a fleet of a few trucks and then went on to trading.
Eventually, he went into manufacturing of soap, edible oil, plastics, paper packaging and property developments.
Amirali later shifted his base to Kampala. Nonetheless, the uncertainty during the time could not allow many businesses, including Mukwano, achieve their potential.
It thrived on and up to date, Mukwano produces most of the household items used in Uganda, including personal care products such as the petroleum jelly and drinking water.
A statement on the legacy of the business says Mukwano Industries Uganda Limited began operations in the 1980s in Kampala with a single enterprise store dealing in general merchandise and produce.
“The first major step in the growth of the company was taken in 1986, in the manufacturing of soap and edible cooking oil,” it reads.
“These were the mainstay of the company until the late 1990s when we made a major investment into the manufacturing of detergents and plastics. This etched Mukwano’s position to the helm of the manufacturing sector.”
All this was at the stewardship of Amirali. It reported that he handed over the day-to-today running of the empire to Alykhan in the mid-1990s.
In 2011, together with renowned industrialists the later Dr. James Mulwana of Nice House of Plastics, Amirali Karmali was decorated with the ‘distinguished order of the Nile (class one) award’ for his distinct performance in production and enterprise development. Both men proved that in Uganda, one could start a business and it succeeds.
In the neighbouring markets, including Kenya, DRC, Sudan, and Rwanda, Amirali made sure Mukwano products traded as outstanding as possible, earning the country much needed foreign exchange.
While opening the Group’s Acacia Mall, one of the upmarket shopping centers in Kampala in 2014, President Yoweri Museveni challenged Ugandans to emulate Amirali and tap into the abundant wealth in the country.
He leaves a legacy of over 14,000 employees, 110,000 small holder farmers and uncountable charities and individuals he touched and empowered.
Mukwano has also severally been recognized among the top taxpayers in the country. The group’s revenues have been estimated to top up to $300 million annually.
Additional information from URN