Induction into the African Leadership CEO’s Hall of Fame: Dr. Manu Chandaria, CEO, COMCRAFT, Kenya.
Some analysts have argued that Philanthropists in Africa are often pressed for results and as such, they invest more in projects that are easily implemented in a short-term; how would you react to this?
That is true because one would not want to invest in projects which will take long time to show results. Long term projects are normally undertaken by government or bilateral or multi-lateral agencies.
What is your position on the call for a shift in the traditional areas of focus for Philanthropist in the continent, to areas like funding for research work in universities and institutions of learning?
Being a chancellor of two Universities, we have found difficult to attract philanthropic money for research as majority of universities are publicly owned and despite African Union, deciding many years back that two percent of their budget should go towards research, a fraction of that percentage is being supported by the government. Call to shift from the traditional areas is a good thing but difficult to convince the philanthropists.
The institutionalization of philanthropy in Africa is somewhat recent; how has this fared in providing a coordinated approach to philanthropy?
Presently there are organizations which are bringing philanthropy together and trying to coordinate a common approach. Last year the United Nations pronounced SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) which now allows the participation of UN, government and the private sector. Under this platform, a common and a coordinated policy is being created.
The growing number of unemployed youths in the continent is quite alarming. As an industrialist, what in your view can be done to create more jobs for our teeming unemployed youths?
As an industrialist I think that the major industrialist groups must create avenues for training and trying to create job opportunities for the trainees. My Group has created Mabati Technical Institute at our flagship plant supported by our Foundation and the students who graduate are trained to create their own businesses.
Some analysts are of the view that there is no nexus between industries and the education sector in Africa, as such graduates are been churned out without the requisite knowledge and information about the industry they intend to work in. What in your view can be done to connect industries with the education sector?
The views are correct. We are creating avenues for students to come for internship at our plants. In my view majority of industries must create avenues for training students as interns while they are studying at the Universities.
Tell us more about The Chandaria Foundation and how you select your recipients of your grants and support?
We select three areas education, health and support to people with disability. Let me give you three examples. Gertrudes Childrens Hospital is the only specialized children’s hospital in the eastern coast of Africa. To continue to keep the lead, they had to in new facilities and equipment. The Chandaria Foundation decided to create Chandaria Medical Centre at the Hospital which houses the most modern equipment and departments. We felt that University Students needed a place to incubate their thoughts and ideas into projects. We endowed the Kenyatta University to create the Chandaria Business Innovation Centre. Swimming for paraplegic children has been supported by the Foundation and early next month there will be an international competition in Kenya which is supported by the Chandaria Foundation.
What is the five top success tips you would give to any young entrepreneur?
Vision, hard work, capacity to stand up to challenges, honesty and integrity
You are one of the most celebrated philanthropists in Africa. What inspires you to give?
I come from a Jain family which is a very small community which believes in non violence, truth and acceptance of various different beliefs. Charity and generosity is value which is taught from childhood.
What is your personal definition of success?
Success to me is the satisfaction you derive for making life of others better
How do you feel winning the African Leadership Person of the Year Philanthropy?
I feel very excited to be picked up from among one billion people and for being noticed for doing good work in the society.