How This Egyptian Entrepreneur Amassed A Fortune Worth Over $5.5 Billion US Dollars
One of the struggles faced by those born into wealth is the challenge of carving out a path that is uniquely theirs. Some, unable to separate themselves from their family’s name and fortune, live hidden in the shadows of their predecessor’s glories. Others simply ride through life content with what has been handed to them.
However, there are special individuals in this group—the rich class—who push beyond set boundaries to become more; More self-reliant, more driven and can even be called self-made.
The word self-made is rarely mentioned in tandem with people whose wealth is mostly inherited. It takes a certain peculiarity to be capable of building a legacy which stands out and is even brighter than that of the preceding generation. This is why men like Naguib Sawiris should be and is celebrated.
The Naguib Onsi Sawiris’ success story is an inspiration to anyone one from any walk of life. A tale that speaks of a lifetime of achievements borne out of sheer hard work and passion.
Despite being born with the finest trappings, he carved out a life semi-independent of his family’s fortune. Never settling, he took hold of the available resources and created something greater.
The Early Years Of Naguib Sawiris
Naguib Onsi Sawiris was born on the 17th of June, 1954 to the Sawiris family of Egypt. He is the first child of Onsi Sawiris, a prominent Egyptian billionaire businessman. The journey of this entrepreneur started at a young age. As a child, he would play marbles, win countlessly and resell them for a nice profit. Even then, it was ingrained in him that persistence was the key and “no” was not an option.
He started out with an education at the German Evangelical School in Cairo, Egypt. After obtaining a diploma at GES, Naguib went on to apply for an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and got accepted. Being a thoroughly intellectual man, he furthered his education with a Master’s degree in Technical Administration at that same university.
While at the institute, the young entrepreneur spearheaded several ventures including a translation business and Jewelry exportation enterprise. Handling academics is challenging enough; but when combined with business, it takes the staying power of a very determined person to not only keep moving but also stay on the set course.
At this point, Naguib’s determination to succeed was already fuelled by the desire to be his own person; someone who is not defined his father’s success.
There was simply no space for the impossible or retreat.
The Rise Of An Empire
Although Naguib Sawiris had every intention of paving his own way through life, things didn’t exactly go according to plan. In 1979, soon after his education, he got into the family business, known then as the Orascom construction industries (OCI). To everyone, it seemed as if he had folded in but he was about to prove them wrong. Steadily he began to rise, ushering in a new phase of the company. Orascom construction industries began to stretch its tentacles into new terrains under the management of the youthful Naguib Sawiris.
A visionary, he had already seen the new world and what would take to launch his company into the next era; the era of technology and telecommunication. He took charge and diversified the company’s holdings by investing into transportation (railway), telecommunications, and Information & Communication Technology (ICT).
The overwhelming success of his establishments led to the company’s division into several parts; Orascom construction industries (OCI), Orascom hotel & development OHD), and Orascom technology holdings (OTH) during the late 1990s.
Each of the three Sawiris scions was given a division to run and do so till this day. Nassef Sawiris is the CEO of OCI, Samih Sawiris the head of OHD while Naguib Sawiris was the man behind the highly successful and progressive turnout of OTH.
In just a little over a decade, Naguib Sawiris’ company went from 200 thousand telecom users in 1998 to about 100 million by 2011. Within those years, he had quickly penetrated the rising telecom markets in countries like Bangladesh, Algeria, Pakistan, Tunisia, war-torn Iraq, and complicated North Korea. His decision to invest in controversial countries stirred up dust internationally and locally, but as usual, his bets paid off.
Koryolink was the first telecommunication company in North Korean history, and it was founded by Naguib Sawiris.
A lot of hard work, sacrifice, smart decisions, and incredible business ethics went into the establishment of this empire.
He did not stop there.
From Egypt To The World
Every success-oriented entrepreneur has a vision of taking his business to the global stage, and the same can be said of Naguib Sawiris. Back in the early months of 2005, he launched a company called Weather investments which acquired majority shares in WIND Telecoms, an Italian-based telecommunications company. In 2006, Weather Investments made another investment, buying up the TIM Hellas Company in Greece and then renamed it, WIND Hellas.
His telecom holdings went global when in April 2011, Wind telecom merged with the Russian-based telecom company, Vimpelcom. The 6.5 billion dollar deal was widely publicized and resulted in the creation of the new telecom holding. This new company ranked as the sixth-largest mobile service provider in the world with over 180 million users in 20 different countries.
The terms of the contract granted Naguib a 30% stake in the newly merged holding, making him its largest individual shareholder and also stipulated that all non-GSM operations and Egypt-based assets of OTH would be melded into Orascom Telecom media and Technology holdings. It was decided that he would oversee OTMT as its executive chairman.
Insight coupled with the ability to take risks is a valuable tool in every investor’s arsenal. Naguib Sawiris is a man that’s known for both qualities and more. That is why together with his family, he decided to invest in a natural resource with a stable market value in any economic situation.
The acquisition of the Canadian-based La Mancha resources, a global gold manufacturer, was led by Naguib in 2012. It was the starting point from which they would acquire more gold producing holdings across the world. Over $490 million was spent on this invaluable purchase which now has about 20% shares in mining industries like Endeavour (West African) gold mining company and the Australian Evolution mining.
With his strong leadership qualities and high business acumen, it came as no surprise when he was appointed as the chairman of the La Mancha Group in August 2012.
Value In Diversity
Naguib Sawiris is a firm believer of diversification as a means of acquiring more wealth and also maintaining it. His investments vary and are usually high-risk ventures. For instance, in 2018, he decided to sell parts of his shares in Evolution mining and invest in Eastern Europe and parts of South America. Not many could see the potential of this investment, but he could and had evidence to show for it with his previous successes. In addition, he plans to invest in the emerging real-estate market in his country.
His reach extends into the finance industry with a bank like Beltone Financial Holding among his assets. Like all humans, Naguib Sawiris experienced a moment of loss when he tried but failed to acquire CI capital holding. A financial asset like that would have resulted in the ownership of the largest investment bank in Egypt as was his intention.
Failures like that do not hinder men of his status. He also stunned the business world when he announced his decision to invest half of his fortune on gold. According to him, the present global crisis spells trouble for the world’s future economy and now is time as any to invest in gold; a natural resource which provides a dependable and profitable opportunity for investors. He predicted that the current $1,300 per ounce of gold would increase to $1,800 per ounce due to impending economic downfall. Instead of sitting back and playing the game of chance, he took proactive steps with this high-risk investment. His decision ensured that in whichever scenario, Sawiris’ wealth is secure and constantly growing.
Naguib Sawiris’ other interests include stakes in an advertising company; OTV (Orascom TV), the Al Masry al-youm newspaper, and Egypt’s main mobile phone company, Mobinil.
Success Beyond Business
Times had changed in Naguib’s homeland and reached a breaking point by 2011. The severely unfavourable political climate in Egypt called for the equally serious January 25 Revolution. As a patriotic citizen, the public outcry against the Egyptian government was not something he could ignore any longer. The unrest spurred him to change his course from a business guru to an influential political figure. As a man who finds no contentment in letting the tides take him wherever, he took definitive steps by establishing Al Masreyeen Al Aharra—the Free Egyptians Party.
Using his influence and wealth, he created platforms from which the Egyptian youth and the general public could receive impartial, incorruptible and objective information about their country. The OTV network and independent Egyptian newspaper, Al Masry al-youm, were successful investments he made for the specific purpose of giving the populace access to uncensored and unbiased news.
Even when the opposition government banned his family from travelling and imposed billion dollar fines against his brother’s business, as a way to shut him up, he kept on pushing for a liberated Egypt. Death threats were something he dealt with and pushed aside as a distraction. Nothing could deter this great man.
Vocal in his advocacy for a democratic government in Egypt, he is actively involved with fostering programs to ensure that the politics in his country is stable and conducive for social and economic growth. Under his leadership, the Sawiris family is willing to invest a billion dollars in different businesses and industries to boost the country’s economic growth.
In September 2015, the plight of refugees trying to escape the Syrian conflict made him offer to purchase an island off the coast of Italy or Greece. After much deliberation, he withdrew due to the foreseeable challenges regarding customs regulations and jurisdictions. This singular act shows that he is beyond a wealthy businessman. Naguib is compassionate and a believer in the human right to life and freedom.
Awards And Recognitions
- Stella della Solidarieta Italiana: The star of Italian solidarity was awarded him for his distinguished contributions towards the Italian economy via investments.
- Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam: This award was conferred on him for all his investments and humanitarian services in Pakistan.
- Legion D’ Honneur: This honour was awarded to him for his outstanding services to the French Republic.
Naguib Sawiris, husband to Ghadil Sawiris and a father of about four children has no doubt acquired quite a fortune and a legacy built to last for generations to come. Bold and courageous, he rewrote his life’s story from just another rich man’s heir to a symbol of wealth, business, and political wisdom.
He shocked the world when he announced his decision to step down as chairman of Orascom telecom media and technology on the 1st of January, 2017. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that he played a key role in making Orascom industries the diversified and successful conglomerate that employs over 100,000 thousand Egyptians.
Retired or not, the work never stops as he plans to invest about $500 million into the different economic sectors of his country and build up his political career. Whether it’s the business, politics or social aspects of his life, he has always strived to produce excellent results.
Naguib’s success is not based on just what he was given or even his social class. Iit is defined by what he did with what was given to him. If he could do it, anyone, despite their financial backgrounds, can. However, the right mindset and principles are important factors that shape great outcomes.
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