How Tanzania’s Reginald Mengi Survived Hunger To Become His Country’s Top Philanthropist

Reginald Abraham Mengi is considered a pioneer of corporate social responsibility in Tanzania. He contributes his time and resources to poverty eradication and economic empowerment schemes for youths, women, and other disadvantaged members of society, including the disabled. For more than 18 years he has hosted luncheons for over 5,000 people with disabilities. In his capacity as a United Nations World Food Programme “End Hunger” Ambassador in Tanzania, Mr. Mengi has successfully supported a national scheme to provide school children with free meals. The initiative has enhanced school enrollment and attendance. Also an environmentalist, since 1987, Mr. Mengi has supported a campaign to reforest Mount Kilimanjaro. The initiative has led to over twenty four million trees being planted on the slopes of Africa’s tallest peak.

Mengi Main
Reginand Mengi

As a matter of fact, in 2012, The Dar es Salaam Religious Leaders Committee granted him The Business for Peace Award for his support of a society without religious, racial or ethnic discrimination. This is exactly how to define the man in the person of Reginald Abraham Mengi. He has lived his life with such immense humility notwithstanding that he is reputed to be one of the richest men in East Africa.

In 2013, Forbes magazine ranked Dr. Mengi as the 34th richest man in all of Africa [in 2014 he was the 45th richest]. The unique part in all this is the fact that to the tycoon himself is the fact that money is not all that matters.

For he has publically besought self-made millionaires to recognize that it is thanks to the grace of God that they have been able to succeed and encouraged Tanzania’s and Africa’s wealthiest to give back to their communities and countries.

Mr. Mengi’s net worth is estimated to be over $530 million.

Early Life

Reginald Abraham Mengi was born into a poor family in Northern Tanzania and raised in a mud hut which the family shared with cows, sheep, goats and chickens. He had one meal a day and sometimes none at all and walked to school barefooted.

As a youngster, Mr. Mengi recognized that he did not have the education he needed to be the change maker that he wanted to be; and with some struggle he was able to leave Tanzania for the United Kingdom to obtain a good education. He believed that there was no short cut to success and that those that want success require a strong will, hard work, and determination.

Dr. Mengi believes that accepting that your country is poor is discouraging, so he refuses to view Tanzania in this way. He believes that it is each person’s responsibility to fight poverty and that it is important to have enough confidence to believe in changing one’s country and continent for the better.

He studied accountancy with Cooper Brothers in the United Kingdom and was accepted as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.

Dr. Mengi Begins His Business Life

Upon his return to Tanzania in 1971, he secured a position with the accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand. He stayed with the firm, which became Price Water House Cooper, through late 1989, by which time he had become its Chairman and Managing Partner. Mr. Mengi then went on to start his own very successful companies.

Mr. Mengi is the founder and Executive Chairman of the IPP Group, one of the largest industrial groups in East Africa. The IPP Group consists of: IPP Media (composed of 11 newspapers, 2 television and 3 radio stations), IPP Bodycare Ltd (a toothpaste, soap and detergent manufacturer) and IPP Resources, that mines coal, copper, chrome, gold and uranium. He also owns Bonite Bottlers, the sole bottler of Coca-Cola products in northern Tanzania. His Kilimanjaro brand is Tanzania’s bestselling bottled water and he also has a financial consulting firm. His companies employ over 5,000 people in Tanzania and are among the largest corporate taxpayers in the country. Although he has faced some allegations of excessive influence over what is printed in the newspapers he owns, his commitment to social justice, fighting corruption, and for environmental protection and peace has earned him many accolades.

Reginald Mengi’s Other Responsibilities

Mr. Reginald Mengi serves as Chairman of Media Owners Association of Tanzania and Chairman, ICC Tanzania (a National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce). He serves as Chairman of People with Disabilities Trust Fund, Tanzania, Chairman of Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) and East African Business Council.

He has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Handeni Gold Inc. [also known as Douglas Lake Minerals Inc.] since September 21, 2010. He served as the Chairman of the National Board of Accountants and Auditors Tanzania, Chairman of the National Environment Management Council Tanzania and Board Director of LEAD (Leadership for Environment and Development International), Commissioner, Tanzania HIV/AIDS Commission (TACAIDS). He serves as a Member of the International Investors Round Table, Tanzania.

He serves as Director of Board of the Commonwealth Business Council. He received many awards including Environmentalist of the Century Award 2000 – Kilimanjaro Region, The Order of the United Republic of Tanzania for acts and conduct earning praise and distinction for the United Republic of Tanzania in 1994 and The Order of The Arusha Declaration of the First Class for the earning great distinction for Tanzania economically, politically, socially, and in defense of Tanzania diligently and at considerable personal sacrifice in 1995. Mr. Mengi is a Chartered Accountant (UK)/Certified Accountant (Tanzania).

Honors and Awards

In recognition of his philanthropic achievements and his unwavering commitment in the fight against social injustice, Dr. Mengi has received several international and national awards over the years.

The Business for Peace Award 2012

Reginald Abraham Mengi was awarded The Business for Peace Award 2012 on the 7th May,2012 in Oslo by the Award Giving Committee of Nobel Laureates of the Business for Peace Foundation which is based in Oslo and is supported by business leaders, politicians and academics around the world. He was selected as one of seven Honorees of the Business for Peace Award 2012 which is given to “Business persons who, through their own actions and commitments, promote socially responsible and ethical business practices in an outstanding way, and stand out as examples to others.

He was given the Environmentalist of the Century Award for the Kilimanjaro Region in 2000 and recognized as East Africa’s Most Respected CEO in 2001 and 2002. In 2004, Mr. Mengi was recognized for his support of women’s economic initiatives in the Arusha area and in 2005 as a founder and benefactor to the University of Dodoma.

In 2008 he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award for his efforts to combat corruption. In March 2012 he received an honorary doctoral degree from the Japan Bible Institute for his dedication to social development. In December 2012, Dr. Mengi received the Environmental Conservation Award Grade One from the people of Tanzania for his outstanding contributions to environmental protection and conservation.

Dr. Mengi also holds a Global Leadership and Humanitarian Award and was the first recipient of the United Nations NGO Lifetime Achievement Award; he received the award for his significant contributions toward achieving millennium development goals and the objectives of poverty reduction and helping people with disabilities.

In March 2014 the world’s largest service organization, the International Association of Lions Clubs, awarded Dr. Reginald Mengi its highest award, the International Order of the Lion. Dr. Mengi was honored for his “selfless dedication to humanity” because he sponsors at least 100 Tanzanian children with severe heart conditions annually to get specialized surgeries in foreign hospitals. He also finances a scholarship program that pays the school fees of hundreds of Tanzania’s poorest but brightest children, from primary school through advanced levels of education including college.

For the humility and poise that Mr. Mengi possesses, even being a mogul, he is surely a force to reckon with. As an elder, he has gracefully set an example, for all men and women in East Africa to emulate, especially looking unto East African Community.

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