MCM: Businessman making a name in Sport ― Rajiv Ruparelia
Written by Derrick Asaba on November 8, 2021
On Saturday October 23, Rajiv Ruparelia put up a spirited fight to win the highly competitive UMOSPOC Kabalega Rally in Hoima as he led the rally right from the first stage in the morning to the final stage.
Cruising in a VW Polo alongside his co-driver Enoch Olinga, Ruparelia walked away with victory finishing 45 seconds ahead of second Ducan Mubiru.
“It was a great event although I had a bit of a mishap in the first stage. I had to play a bit with the car and get it out. The rest was okay,” Rajiv told the press shortly after the rally.
Rajiv has previously taken part in the KCB Nakuru rally in Kenya, Kayunga rally and UMC Kassanda Sugar Rally 2021 Championship. He is moulding his way of registering and maintaining his name in the history books as one of the Rally Drivers in Uganda.
As a member on the Board of the Ruparelia Foundation, Rajiv is in charge of the general welfare department and works with enthusiasm towards promoting sports in the country explaining his love for motorsports, golf and rugby.
Rajiv has been around and in sport for most of his life. He was once the youngest golf champion in Uganda. He was a handicap four when he was sixteen years old in 2006.
“I was in the first rugby team and football team at my university in the UK, on the second team in tennis and squash. So, sport has always been in me and I am competitive,” he revealed.
Early life and Family
Rajiv was born in Uganda on January 2, 1990 to Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia and Jyotsna Ruparelia. He is the youngest of three that are his elder sisters; Sheena and Meera.
Growing up, Rajiv says that his mum played a pivotal role in their upbringing (together with the siblings) as she could drop them at school, take them for sports, check what they had studied and much more.
Rajiv attended schools like the International School of Uganda (ISU), Kabira International School Uganda, Dragon School in Oxford, Haileybury, among others.
“At nine years, while at Kabira International School Uganda, most of my friends left to study in Kenya and I wanted to follow them but my mum refused and instead took me to Britain because that is where my sisters were,” Rajiv was quoted to have said.
His parents always wanted him to attain his education from England. As he says, no matter who one is or where they are, they are looked at as nobody in the western world, which is a humbling factor. His parents were afraid he would lose humility because he hails from an affluent family if he were to study from Uganda all through.
Rajiv was quoted saying, “I wasn’t a spoilt child; I am still a spoilt child (bursts into laughter). But as much as my dad spoiled me, I always knew that eventually this would follow my two feet and I have to maintain that lifestyle. I have a lavish lifestyle, but I also put in much effort in my work. So, it is all part of the puzzle.”
He says that the dad, Sudhir Ruparelia, didn’t get to spend much time with them (Rajiv and the siblings) because he was busy building his dreams, but he gave them his time in a different way. Instead of him spending time with them, he would take them to spend time with him at construction sites and they could see him managing people which tipped their minds open.
Rajiv obtained a degree in Business Administration though, his first love was Finance and Banking for basic reasons as being dyslexic and struggled to read and write long essays. He is also a graduate of Financial Management from Regents College, London.
Business and money
On an individual level, Rajiv started his first business at the age of 17 and invested in a nightclub while still at school. He joined Regents University in 2010 where he graduated in 2013 in Financial Management.
He later joined the family business in 2014. He started by being on construction sites by managing labours and materials.
“Later I started getting into the design, planning, feasibility, and implementation of full developments (hotels, schools, universities, offices, apartments, farms, shopping malls, arcades). Once developed, we would then participate in setting up the management and putting the right team together to operate the various businesses,” Rajiv says.
In 2016, Rajiv created 300 jobs within the group alone to accommodate unemployed Ugandans, a figure so significant to be undertaken by any other company in Uganda in a calendar year.
He was later appointed as the managing director in 2017 of Ruparelia Group of companies handling 28 different businesses with an extremely talented team.
Ruparelia Group is a multibillion empire which runs a string of businesses in real estate, hospitality, finance, education among other sectors. Under this corporation, he is responsible for developing sound business strategies and delivering strong leadership across the group.
As Ruparelia Group Managing Director, Rajiv says he loves what he does and that he is a true believer that people and systems drive a successful business.
“We all have 24 hours in a day but when you run institutions and businesses, you have to also create systems that govern them and follow them up personally. There is not one thing that I do not follow up on and I have people whose job is to make follow-ups and make sure that reports are given to me for authorization,” Rajiv asserts.
More about Rajiv
He is married to Naiya Khagram Ruparelia and the two met at a revision camp. They did not start dating from the word ‘GO’ but he remembers he was sitting alone and she came and sat next to him.
At the time the couple met, Rajiv was about 17 and their eyes never saw each other until he was 22. They started hanging out in London and things evolved there after. The couple now has one kid together.
He is a foodie; loves Indian food, but also likes Ugandan food. He stopped drinking whiskey because it used to get him too excited. He now takes beers only.
Despite being born in a rich family, Rajiv says he doesn’t even think of the fact that he is nicknamed “rich man’s son” because he did not choose to be born with a silver spoon in his mouth nor did he choose the family.
“When people say such things, I just give them a deaf ear. My employees do not respect me because my father is the owner of the company; they respect me on merit. I have trained the majority of my top management myself and through guidance, hard work, their knowledge, abilities and teamwork, we were driven to this position,” he says.
This is such an outstanding trait ― to be respected on merit not exterior factors so to write ― Money.