- Jaswant Singh Rai hails from the Rai family, one of Kenya’s richest, controlling major interests in edible oils and sugar
- Jaswant Rai entered the sugar sector, founding the West Kenya Sugar Company in 1989, now among Kenya’s biggest sugar producers.
Billionaire Jaswant Singh Rai has been making headlines in Kenya after he was apprehended by gun-toting men in Nairobi, forced out of his car in traffic, and bundled into a pick-up that had blocked him on Friday last week.
He was released on Sunday, August 27, 2023, after his search was launched following concerns from his family.
But who is this Jaswant Singh Rai?
Jaswant Singh Rai Family
Jaswant Singh Rai hails from the Rai family, one of Kenya’s richest, controlling major interests in edible oils and sugar.
Jaswant whose father died on December 28, 2010 in Mumbai India, is the son of tycoon Tarlochan Singh Rai.
He is a cousin to Sarbi Singh Rai of Sarrai Group.
Sarbi’s father migrated from his native India to Kenya before being joined by Jaswant’s father who also opened his own chain of business.
After the death of their fathers, the two sons expanded and separately diversified their business before Sarbi moved to Uganda to set up Sarrai Group. It also has operations in Malawi.
Mr Sarbi and Jaswant took different paths in the wake of family disagreements that culminated in a vicious court fight for the control of the Rai family’s multibillion-shilling estate.
Sarbi’s two brothers teamed up with their mum to take on their brother Jaswant over the distribution of wealth left behind by their father.
At the centre of the dispute is the will dated December 17, 1999, allegedly left behind by Tarlochan.
The widow, Sarjij Kaur Rai, together with her sons, Jasbir and Iqbal, have objected to the will, saying the patriarch could have been coerced in crafting the document that distributed his assets among his eight beneficiaries.
Jaswant Singh Rai Businesses and Wealth
Jaswant Rai entered the sugar sector, founding the West Kenya Sugar Company in 1989, now among Kenya’s biggest sugar producers.
Under Jaswant’s watch, the Rai family has extended its dominance in the sugar sector by accounting for nearly half of the entire production of the sweetener.
He is the chairman of the Rai Group- a conglomerate with interests in the sugar, real estate, and hospitality industries- he is thought to control at least 43 per cent of Kenya’s sugar business.
With the opening of a new milling factory in Naitiri, Bungoma County, data from the Sugar Directorate indicates that the four firms owned by the business mogul account for over 45 per cent of the total sugar sales in the country.
Group which also runs West Kenya, Olepito and Sukari Industries has straddled the turbulent industry like a colossus to establish itself in Western and South Nyanza sugar belts.
Jaswant Singh Rai is also the founder of the Raiplywood Group, Kenya’s leading producer of plywood and other wood products.
The Rai family has interests in cement production (Rai Cement), edible oils and soaps (Menengai Oil refineries), sawmilling (Timsales, Raiply and Rai Paper formerly known as Webuye Panpaper), wheat farming, horticulture and real estate (Tulip Properties).
According to Sugar Directorate Data from 2020, Rai Group held 45% of the nation’s total sugar sales. Sukari Industries came in at 11%, West Kenya at 29%, and Olepito at 2%.
Jaswant Rai lifestyle
Jaswant Rai is renowned for his stylish suits.
The suits are made by renowned British stylist and designer Ozwald Boateng.
Boateng is the first and youngest black tailor to have a shop on London’s prestigious Savile Row, where the world’s royalty go for their clothing.