Reginald Abraham Mengi was born into a family of modest means in northern Tanzania, but with some struggle he was able to obtain a good education in the UK. 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 PriceWaterHouseCooper, 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.
Mr. 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.
Mr. Mengi has received numerous awards and honors. 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.
The Dar es Salaam Religious Leaders Committee granted him The Business for Peace Award 2012 for his support of a society without religious, racial or ethnic discrimination. 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.
In 2014, Forbes magazine ranked Dr. Mengi as the 45th richest man in all of Africa. In 2015, the same magazine listed Reginald Mengi as the 4th wealthiest man in Tanzania, with a net worth of $560 million. Dr. Mengi has encouraged self-made millionaires to recognize that it is thanks to the grace of God that they have been able to succeed and has encouraged Tanzania’s and Africa’s wealthiest to give back to their communities and countries.
By Heidi G. Frontani
Dr. Heidi G. Frontani is geographer in the nature-society tradition, whose research has examined the relationship between park management approach and conservation effect, particularly the extent to which participatory, ‘bottom-up’ co-management can not only protect biodiversity, but also local people’s livelihoods. She has worked with fishing communities in New England and the Florida Keys in the United States and, as a Fulbright Scholar, with Swahili-speaking communities living near coral reef-based marine protected areas in Kenya. Dr. Frontani holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University. She has served as a visiting professor at Mount Holyoke College in the USA and Southeast University in Nanjing, China and currently teaches at Elon University. She writes weekly on Africans’ successful development initiatives in Africa on her blog.