From Priest, Palmist and Astrologer to One of Kenya’s Richest Tycoons
From an assistant priest, palmist and an astrologer, Narendra Raval became a shopkeeper, an industrialist and now a multi-millionaire. Today, Raval owns Kenya’s largest steel and cement empire with a turnover of $650 million
Born in 1962 in a small village near Surendrangar, Gujarat, in a Brahmin family, he followed the Swaminarayan path from his boyhood. Getting up at 3:45 a. m., he helped with morning prayers at the local temple before going to school. After school, he helped with evening prayers. So when he got a chance to travel abroad to work as an assistant priest in Kenya, he wasted no time to land in Nairobi in 1978.
Then he became ‘guru’. He was told to hold religious classes for children everySunday. To tempt them to attend, he prepared tasty snacks for them after lessons. Soon the number rocketed from 12 to 250 children and he was called guru.
When he reached 21 years, he was pressurised by his family to get married. So he married a medical doctor in 1982, but had to stop work at the temple as priests could not marry. He had no money and did not know many people. But his astrology came in handy. At the temple, he met a person for whom he made some predictions. This person offered him a job as a worker in a steel factory which he grabbed. He worked and saved and opened a small shop and steel processing unit selling metal products with a loan from a benefactor in Nairobi’s low income suburb in 1990. He and his wife toiled. They worked up to 18 hours every day.