At age 29, Darshan Chandaria is group CEO & a shareholder of Kenyan business powerhouse Chandaria Group. Together with his father, Mahesh and brother, Neer, he is positioning Chandaria as one of the notable industrial success stories in the region. The group’s flagship company, Chandaria Industries, is the largest tissue and hygiene products manufacturer in East & Central Africa. From that base, the group has diversified into real estate, mining, solar power generation, and automobile manufacturing. Much of this diversification is a result of Darshan’s efforts. While entering attractive new markets, he has expanded and enhanced operations, creating a path to sustained, profitable growth for the Group.
The most recent addition to the Chandaria portfolio is its partnership with Barclays Africa, the African subsidiary of the global bank, in life insurance.
Kenya represents one of the most under-penetrated countries with respect to insurance, at just 3.2% (KPMG). Compare this figure with Kenya’s position as one of the fastest-growing life insurance markets—premiums are increasing at a double-digit rate—and the business opportunity becomes clear. This new partnership between the family and Barclays Africa will result in innovative products for Kenyans, marketed both as a surety for life events, and as an investment vehicle.
Darshan notes that there has historically been a dearth of partnerships between multi-national corporations and local businesses in Africa, with large MNCs tending to set up shop independently. Bucking this trend, the Chandaria family has taken a significant stake in the joint venture with Barclays Africa. According to Darshan, this ownership structure positions the product for acceptance within the Kenyan market. Initially, it will be geared towards existing Barclays customers and large corporates.
At the launch, Darshan did not pull any punches: “Unless you are immortal,” he said, “you need life insurance.”
“Our vision is, in the next five years, to be a top-tier insurance services provider in Kenya. We are very upbeat about our joint venture with Barclays. We are confident that we will build one of the most significant businesses in the insurance sector in the years to come.”
This post is the first in our new ALN Inquirers series. ALN Inquirers are journalism and communications professionals, who interview ALN members and produce brief blog postings, focusing on the insights and projects of those members.
Special thanks to contributor Idil Issa for this piece. Idil is a Canadian writer with Somali and Ethiopian heritage. She has a passion for global politics, social justice, and women’s issues. In her capacity as a freelance journalist, Idil has contributed to publications including Esquire Malaysia, COLORS magazine, Maisonneuve, and The Globe and Mail. Idil is based in Ottawa and is fluent in both English and French.