Manu Chandaria OBE CBS EBS
Medal Citation: 2022 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy
For nearly 70 years, renowned businessman and philanthropist Manu Chandaria has dedicated himself to providing essential human services to long-overlooked communities in Africa.
Chandaria was born in Nairobi, Kenya, to Indian immigrants of modest means. His merchant father ensured that his children understood the pivotal role that education could play in their lives. Taking this guidance to heart, Chandaria embarked on a quest for knowledge that would take him from primary school in Kenya to secondary and undergraduate studies in India — and then on to the U.S., where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from the University of Oklahoma.
When Chandaria returned to Kenya in 1951, the family’s small business was expanding into the aluminum and steel industries. This positioning — bolstered by hard work and fierce dedication — became the platform from which the Comcraft Group would grow into a multibillion-dollar conglomerate with a presence today in over 40 countries. Chandaria applied his engineering skills and scholarly acumen to the company’s leadership, while going on to become founding chairman of the East African Business Council and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
Chandaria is a devoted follower of Jainism, and once the business was set on course, he turned to an important principle of his faith: service to others. Established in 1955, the Chandaria Foundation supports educational, health care, and life enrichment programs that continue to benefit thousands of Kenyans — and his family would eventually set up charitable trusts in many of the African countries in which Comcraft operates. Chandaria also chaired the Street Families Rehabilitation Trust Fund, which develops rehabilitative and preventive programs for homeless children and families. The recipient of six honorary degrees, Chandaria has also served in leadership roles at various Kenyan universities.
In addition to funding academic scholarships, Chandaria was instrumental in endowing the Chandaria School of Business at United States International University–Africa and the Chandaria Centre for Performing Arts at the University of Nairobi, among numerous other educational initiatives. The Chandaria Foundation also invests in the strengthening of health care infrastructures in Kenya, including support for the Chandaria Accident and Emergency Centre at Nairobi Hospital, the Chandaria Cancer and Chronic Disease Centre in Eldoret, and the Chandaria Medical Centre at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi.
In an interview with African Philanthropy Forum, this celebrated advocate for service to society said, “The wealth that you have is not yours. You are only the trustee of the wealth you have.” Asked what he would change if he could live his life over, Chandaria responded with characteristic humility and compassion: he would have started serving others sooner.
In The Gospel of Wealth, Andrew Carnegie observed that the rich have it in their power to create “benefactions from which the masses of their fellows will derive lasting advantage.” The Selection Committee of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy believes that Manu Chandaria’s farsighted generosity will continue to inspire and empower people in Kenya and across the African continent for generations to come. Indeed, the Chandaria Foundation’s projects have created a legacy of healthier and better-educated Africans while helping to mobilize the continent’s next generation of business leaders. We applaud Manu Chandaria’s many philanthropic achievements; they align beautifully with our founder’s philosophy of philanthropy.
The Carnegie family of institutions is honored to welcome Manu Chandaria as a recipient of the 2022 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.