The Pan African Tobacco Group’s founder, Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, will retire after a 52-year career, passing along the management of his companies to his sons and son-in-law.
Paul Nkwaya, Ayabatwa’s eldest son, will serve as the group’s marketing director, while his youngest son, Richard Rujugiro, will serve as technical director. Son-in-law Serge Huggenberger will serve as financial director.
Ayabatwa, 72, will continue to advise his sons and son-in-law on company management, but will no longer be involved in day-to-day operations.
“I am very proud of what I’ve accomplished over the last five decades,” Ayabatwa said. “I worked extremely hard to create jobs and opportunities for Africa, and have no doubt that my sons and son-in-law will lead my companies successfully into the future.”
In his retirement, Ayabatwa plans to spend more time on his charitable endeavors. He is developing a foundation mainly to help aspiring African entrepreneurs.
The Pan African Tobacco Group and the other companies Ayabatwa founded operate in 10 countries and trade in 27 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Combined, Ayabatwa’s companies employ 26,000 people who in turn support at least 182,000—in Sub-Saharan Africa, each employee supports at least seven people. From South Africa and the United Arab Emirates to Angola and Tanzania, Ayabatwa companies manufacture cement, tea, plastic shoes, beer, snack foods and cigarettes.
Ayabatwa, a Rwandan refugee with just an eighth-grade education, had to create many of his own opportunities. “My goal was never about making money; it was about building something up, creating something,” Ayabatwa said. “That is what I tried to accomplish and that is the legacy I leave to my sons and son-in-law.”
The Pan African Tobacco Group has subsidiaries in several African countries and in the UAE. Its subsidiaries include Leaf Tobacco & Commodities in Uganda, Vision Tobacco in Dubai, Barco Trading in Angola, Burundi Tobacco Company in Burundi, Leaf Tobacco & Commodities in Nigeria, the Congo Tobacco Company, Mastermind Tobacco Company in Tanzania and Arkan Leaf in Angola.
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