A man of purpose and strong will, Reginald Abraham Mengi, has got his foot prints on the moon, not by fluke or happenstance but by hard work, determination and hope.
He didn’t give room for the antecedents of his birth and childhood to determine his future, instead he took charge of his space, paid the price and continues to make impact in Africa.
Growing up, he carried out his pitiful routine like any other underprivileged child; he would awake before dawn in the small mud shed in Northern Tanzania that his family shared with cattle, chickens, rodents and insects. And walk to school barefoot, most times on an empty stomach but with a heart filled with hope.
Spurred by the zeal to change what seemed to be the modus vivendi of his people at the time, the change maker left Tanzania in search of a good education, as he had perceived that that was the main ingredient he needed to make an indelible impact in his society.
His search landed him in the United Kingdom where he managed to study accountancy and articles with Cooper Brothers after which he was accepted as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.
Reginald returned to Tanzania in 1971 and was employed by the accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand Tanzania (now PriceWaterHouseCoopers) where he worked up until September 1989 when he became its Chairman and Managing Partner.
In October 1989 Dr.Reginald Mengi left Coopers & Lybrand Tanzania to concentrate on his own businesses. Today his flagship IPP Limited and its associated companies rank amongst the largest private companies in Tanzania. The days of toiling and suffering long gone but not forgotten, for those thoughts of his little beginnings always propel him to give much more than he ever received to his community.
IPP Limited and its associated companies are engaged in a variety of income spinning businesses like print media, Dr Mengi is the publisher of The Guardian Limited which publishes The Guardian and Nipashe newspapers which are amongst the largest selling in Tanzania; electronic media (ITV- Independent Television Limited runs the largest coverage private television and radio stations); manufacturing (Bonite Bottlers Limited produces Coca Cola drinks under license and the Kilimanjaro drinking water which is the most widely sold bottled water in Tanzania; and mining (IPP Resources Limited has directly and through joint ventures one of the most extensive mineral portfolios in Tanzania).
This man of great repute has pioneered corporate social responsibility in Tanzania by contributing his time and resources to worthy causes. He pioneered a poverty eradication and economic empowerment scheme for youths and women through various grassroot programmes including Village Community Banks and Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies (SACCOS).
He has also tackled to a great extent most challenges that faced the disadvantaged members of his society by consistently participating in setting up development projects which focus on people with disabilities and has stood up for many years to speak out against the discrimination they face.
His significant and groundbreaking role in publicly condemning the barbaric practice of attacking and mutilating the limbs of Albinos and creating public awareness of this atrocity which has made the Government to address the matter more seriously cannot be forgotten in a hurry.
He also hosts annual luncheons for people with disabilities; an event he has been sponsoring for more than eighteen years and which is attended by over five thousand people.
Over the last three decades Dr.Reginald Mengi’s has made significant efforts to set up scholarships to encourage academic excellence and to assist bright students who are unable to pursue further studies due to monetary constraints. He also funds schools which target disadvantaged sections of the community.
One of his philanthropic gestures was part financing the running of a boarding secondary school for the daughters of nomadic Masaai who had no access to education and were destined to become child mothers and live in poverty.
Through his scholarship scheme, hundreds have received quality education, and many others have gone as far as the tertiary institutions. In his capacity as a United Nations WFP “End Hunger” Ambassador in Tanzania Dr. Mengi has also successfully supported a national scheme to provide free meals to school children. An initiative that has enhanced school enrolment and attendance.
As a major contributor to the health sector, Dr Mengi has been actively engaged in the fight against fistula, bringing it to the forefront of public awareness. This kindhearted Tanzanian is also commended for caring for children and for sponsoring many to undergo lifesaving heart surgeries in India.
And as an environmental conservator he has initiated and funded a campaign to reforest Mount Kilimanjaro in order to reverse the melting of its famous snowcap due to global warming and deforestation. This campaign which he has been funding since it started in 1987, has led to over twenty four million trees being planted on the slopes of the mountain.
Dr. Reginald Mengi has developed an unbeatable resume, I am not exactly sure if I have seen someone who has gathered so much awards and international recognitions under his belt within a short period; an attempt will just be made to mention a few of his awards.
On 9 December 2012, he received the Environmental Conservation Award Grade One from the People of Tanzania for his outstanding contribution and effort in environmental protection and conservation.
In the same year, he received a token from the Dar es Salaam Religious Leaders Committee for support to society without religious, racial or tribal discrimination and The Business for Peace Award 2012, an award 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.” The award was presented 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 selected Dr. Mengi as one of seven Honourees of the Business for Peace Award 2012.
He also received a Doctor of Humanity Degree from the Japan Bible Institute on 10 March 2012. An award given for his dedication to social development.
On 31 March 2011, he was given a Certificate of Appreciation by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. The award was presented by His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, The President of the United Republic of Tanzania for his significant contribution towards the success of the 2010 General Elections Campaign.
And on May 2012, he was awarded the 2010 Global Leadership and Humanitarian Award and the 1st United Nations NGO Lifetime Achievement Award by the Global 2000 (2010) International, a registered member of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, member NGO of the United Nations Department of Public Information and registered NGO in consultative status with UNESCO of the United Nations. Awards given to individuals and institutions throughout the world who are making significant contributions to the work of the United Nations in achieving the millennium development goals and objectives especially in the areas of poverty reduction and helping people with disabilities. Dr. Mengi is the first recipient of the United Nations NGO Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other certificates and awards include; Certificate of Appreciation by the International Association of Lions Clubs. This certificate was awarded to Dr. Mengi by the Tanzania and Uganda Lions Club MD 411-B in recognition of distinguished services to Lions for the years 2009 to 2010.
The 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award was also given to him by the United States of America for his efforts in combating corruption and fighting for justice. Msama Promotions – Trophy for High Respect Award – 2007: Dr. Mengi was given this award for his dedication to community development.
Certificate of Appreciation from BAKWATA – for support and Dedication to Society – 2006, for his outstanding leadership in business. He also received the Trophy of appreciation from Command and Staff College – Arusha 2006 Msama Promotions – Trophy in recognition of caring for and valuing people with disability – 2006.
Certificate from Tanzania Institute of Media Education (TIME) for Creativity. Certificate of Appreciation – Founder Benefactor of the University of Dodoma – 2005 15. Certificate of Appreciation from Arusha Women Development Initiative Support – 2004 Dr. Mengi was given this certificate for supporting women economic initiatives. Certificate of Appreciation from the Registered Trustees of the Community Development Services (RTCDS) – 2004 Dr. Mengi was given this certificate for his contribution to community development.
Certificate of Appreciation from Rombo Development Trust Fund – 2003 Dr. Mengi was given this certificate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the historically successful fundraising campaign for Rombo District for year 2003.
Most respected Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in East Africa Dr. Mengi was voted East Africa most respected CEO 2nd position by the East African Business Community for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. Voting for this purpose was discontinued in 2002. Trophies from PriceWaterHouseCoopers and Reliance Insurance Company (T) Limited Dr. Mengi was awarded these trophies for winning East Africa’s Most Respected CEO in 2001 and 2002.
A Joint Certificate of Appreciation from the then National Chief Commander of CCM Youth Mzee Rashid Kawawa and the then Commander of CCM Youth Coast Region Hon. JakayaMrishoKikwete. Dr. Mengi was given this certificate in recognition of his support for the 2001MwalimuNyerere Memorial Walk. A token of Appreciation from the National Board of Accountants and Auditors.
The Environmentalist of the Century Award 2000 – Kilimanjaro Region Dr. Mengi was given this award in 2000 in recognition for his efforts to conserving and protecting the environment of Mount Kilimanjaro and in particular his role in the forestation campaign. Certificate for supporting National Sports Day for the Disabled – 2000. Tanzania Muslim Hajj Trust – Certificate of Appreciation for Service and Cooperation 1998 25.
Uhuru Torch Ceremony Support 1996. Dr. Mengi was awarded this honour for his contribution to the success of the 1996 Uhuru Torch Ceremony. The Order of the Arusha Declaration of the First Class, Dr. Mengi was awarded this medal by the People of Tanzania in 1995 in recognition for earning great distinction for Tanzania economically, politically, socially and in defence of Tanzania diligently and at considerable personal sacrifice. It is one of the highest decorations ever awarded to a civilian in Tanzania.
In November 2013 Forbes Magazine described Dr Reginald Mengi’s Net Worth $550 Million, which places him on number 34 of Africa’s 50 Richest. His wealth of business experience and success has seen him travel round the world to participate in several national and international businesses. He has also served in numerous public offices; He served as Director, Board of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) from 1998-2012.
Dr. Mengi was elected as Chairman of the Media Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT), an organization which represents media owners in Tanzania. from 2003 till date.
He is also the Chairman, People with Disabilities Trust Fund This is an NGO which mobilizes funds for people with disabilities since 1992. And a member of Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) since May 2007.
He is the Chairperson, Economic Empowerment Working Group of the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC), a public/private sector initiative established to serve as a forum for public-private sector dialogue on strategic direction for promoting investments, and expediting economic growth and poverty eradication.
Dr. Reginald Mengi is also a member of the International Investors Round Table, Tanzania. An organization which was established by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania with the stated purpose of promoting international investment. The Roundtable Committee presents its recommendations to the Government of Tanzania and these have greatly influenced Tanzania’s foreign investment policy. These are just a few of Dr. Reginald Abraham Mengi’s high and lofty achievements.
Like most people, he had little beginnings; a childhood mired with untold sorrows, sufferings and extreme lack, but he didn’t resign to such fate; even without shoes and most times, a day’s meal, he held on to his dream and paid the price. Today, Tanzania and indeed Africa are enjoying the fruits of his determination. Like Dr. Mengi you can create the future you wish to see. Get up and get moving.