Bidco’s Shah started small but aimed big

Tuesday October 28 2014

Workers package edible oil at the Bidco plant in Thika, Kenya.

Workers package edible oil at the Bidco plant in Thika, Kenya. The company manufactures edible oils, detergents, baking powder and canola. 

By Abdulaziizi K. Tumusiime


The year was 1980. A 20-year-old Vimal Shah, the CEO of Bidco Group, along with his brother, were impressed that manufacturing consumer goods was a feasible business to undertake.
The two young men neither had the experience nor the capital to actualise their idea but their will and passion kept them going.

“We went to several banks and shared our project but none of them was willing to finance it. The idea was often noted as a good one, but the banks could not trust us with their money,” Vimal said in an interview with Kenya’s Citizen TV.

The banks reasoned that Shah did not have any experience in that particular line of business.
With the loan not coming through, Shah was induced to roll out the business premised on a sheer piece of advice “Start small and aim high” that had been shared with him.

After jumping the hurdle of opening the business, the next was finding market for their products. The two brothers resorted to going around the country in a van to market output. One of their marketing strategies involved urging shopkeepers to stock their products and paying after making sales.

Thirty years down the road, Shah is ranked as the richest Kenyan according to New World Wealth.
Last year, Forbes Magazine listed him as one of the wealthiest Africans, a worth of $1.6 billion.
Bidco, the idea that banks once shunned, has an annual turnover of more than $500 million.

The family owned company holds a 49 per cent share of the edible oils market in Kenya.
It manufactures edible oils, detergents, baking powder and canola. The products are distributed in 14 countries across the continent.

Wealthy as he is, one would assume Shah’s objective is to make more money and rise up any rankings where he does not enjoy the number one position. “It is not important to gauge people based on wealth. I derive more satisfaction in living in the hearts and minds of people; in making a difference in people’s lives,” Shah said during an interview with a Kenyan TV Station. He shares that it is his passion and will that have kept him ahead in all his works.

What he brings to Thought Leaders Forum
He brings time tested solutions to business that allows businesses to grow their profits. Shah also brings experience from the biggest economy in East Africa and beyond.

Some of his memorable quotes
“I believe in being “MAD” (Make a Difference). In every position one holds, one has to make a make a difference and achieve things not for yourself but for the people, the institution and businesses one represents, the country the region and over-all contribute to the growth of every external factor that one interacts with,” Shah says.

Who is Vimal Shah?

Vimal Shah was born in 1960 in Nyeri – Kenya. He holds a B.Sc degree in Business Administration and Finance from United States International University – Africa.
He won the Prestigious East African Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2012 awarded by All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) in partnership with CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa.
In recognition of his exceptional effort and contribution to national development, Former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki rewarded him with the ‘First Class - Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS) in 2010.