Left, The entrance to Vijay Patel’s mansion in Stockbroker Belt, Essex, UK. FILE and Right, Vijay Patel and Bhikhu Patel in 2018. They have been recognised widely for their contribution to the Medical industry
From Ksh70 to Ksh103B: Inspiring Tale of Kenyan Tycoon in UK
Being appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire is one of the prestigious awards an individual can earn in the United Kingdom. For Vijay Patel, an Indian English tycoon, born in Kenya in the 1950s, this milestone achieved in 2019 signified an important phase in his journey to transform lives across the world. Vijay is one of the biggest entrepreneurs in the UK, whose name has featured in international magazines such as UK Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph among the richest Asians in UK. Together with his brother Bhikhu Patel, they manage a Ksh103 billion pharmaceutical company, Waymade Healthcare, in Essex, North East London.
According to an article by The Telegraph in 2014, Vijay’s father, a timber merchant, died when he was five and he was left with his brother to fend for themselves. That is when they migrated to Britain thanks to their father who had chosen a British rather than Kenyan citizenship.
The Daily Nation in 2014, further revealed that he was born in Eldoret town in Uasin Goshu County, and left Kenya while he was 16 years old, with £5 (Ksh70 as per then exchange rates), to build a £500 million (Sh72 billion) company in the UK.
“I was born and brought up in Eldoret. My father died when I was five and left us living hand to mouth. By the time I left Kenya, I had known no luxury at all. I had two sets of clothes, one that I would be wearing while the other would be in the wash. “There was no social security or welfare. We were seriously poor. And if you’ve known that deprivation, you never want to go back there again,” he says, adding that it provides a great motivation “to get on and do something with yourself,” Vijay narrated.
Upon arriving in England in 1967, he joined the College of Pharmacy in Leicester and opened a pharmacy after graduation. He later oversaw it’s growth to over 20 outlets. In 1980, the brothers birthed Waymade Healthcare which expanded into buying and selling medicines and later channelled into supplying hospitals and traders. Vijay became the chief executive as Bhikhu assumed the managing director role as they went on to expand their company past Europe to Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. According to The Telegraph, the brothers live simple, humble lives despite being oligarchs.
By 2014, Vijay had featured in Europe’s top 500 Dynamic Entrepreneurs and had been in the Deloitte and Touche Technology Fast list every year since 2001. The two were also cited in the Sunday Business 100 Adventure Capitalists in Britain in 1999, Enterprise Magazine and Top 100 Entrepreneurs in 1999. For the two, their life in Kenya played a significant role in enabling them to create an empire from a humble beginning. That’s why they always give back to the Kenyan society through philanthropy and charity works. The duo also set up a school in Eldoret. Kenyans.co.ke.