Salt is an essential in every home and businesses like hotels that prepare food on daily basis. The most common brand of salt in the Kenyan market is Kensalt.
In this article, WoK brings you the story of the late Mansukh Patel – the tycoon who owned Kensalt Limited which is the second largest producer of salt in Africa.
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Kensalt is a manufacturing company based in the coastal town of Malindi. The company has been producing table salt. Today, it is the second largest producer of salt in Africa with an estimated annual output of about one million tonnes. The company controls 75 percent of the salt market in Kenya and 50 percent in Uganda.
Its products retail in different African countries including Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Congo and Burundi among other countries. The company was previously known as Salt Manufacturers Kenya Limited, then under a partnership between the government through the Industrial Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) and Saltech International, an Italian firm.
The tycoon is a renowned Kenyan Industrialist, farmer and entrepreneur with interests in the manufacturing, agribusiness and real estate sectors. He lived a reclusive lifestyle until the mega Solai dam on his 3,000 acre farm in Solai burst its bank wiping away the neighboring villages of Nyakinyua, Endao, Milmet and Arutani in May 2018.
The floodwaters hit the villages at high speed washing away homes and cars, leaving behind 48 people dead and at least 5,000 people displaced. The dam was owned by his son Perry Mansukh who served as the Chairman of the Solai Group of Companies which owns the Milmet Flower farm.
The incident saw the arrest of nine members of the Mansukh family who were acquitted in February 2020 by the Nakuru Law Court after the Prosecution failed to press charges against the accused. In April 2020, the High Court in Naivasha overturned the decision and the case was revived which is still pending in court awaiting determination.
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Apart from Kensalt Limited, the family owns Solai Coffee Estates which grows coffee, flowers, macadamia and other horticultural products for export. The flowers are exported to America and European countries where they retail under the brand name ‘Solai Roses.’ They also own Enkasiri Flowers in Thika which comprises 65 hectares of land, Nairobi Ceramics Limited and a company known as Supplies and Services limited.
He employed over 2,000 people in his coffee, cut flower and dairy farming ventures in the Rift Valley region. He also contributed in various development projects including construction of roads, schools, hospitals and contributed to the preservation of the environment as reported by Nation.
Some of the schools Patel built include Jamhuri Primary School, Mansukh Primary School and Arutani Secondary School. He ensured poor families accessed education and made sure Arutani Secondary school is equipped with a modern laboratory and a brand new school bus.
The tycoon died on 28th June 2021 at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi after suffering a cardiac arrest.