Kenyan born British businessman awarded OBE in New Year Honours

Vijay Patel
Vijay Patel

The Kenyan born co-founder of a charity which supports projects in Kenya has been named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year Honours List.

Entrepreneur Vijay Patel, who founded Waymade Pharmaceuticals with his brother Bhikhu, has been honoured for services to business and his philanthropic efforts.

Born into poverty in Kenya, Vijay arrived in the UK ages 15 and after qualifying as a pharmacist, he set us his own high-streey pharmacy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. He grew this into a chain of over 20 branches before selling to Boots. He then set up Waymade PLC as a short-line wholesaler and distributer, growing it to a £300 million turnover business at its peak.

The brothers have managed to build a substantial portfolio of pharma, property and private equity businesses and attribute their drive and passion to their mother; a young widow who in difficult circumstances instilled in her children a sense of purpose and compassion.

Such was their mother’s influence, they named their charity, the Shanta Foundation which has a presence in Kenya, Uganda, the UK and India, after her.

In association with the Lions Club, they provided funding for the building and equipping of a primary school in Vijay and Bhikhu’s childhood home of Eldoret, and in collaboration with partner charities, they have funded a number of free care medical camps in Kenya, providing access to general medical and surgical care for patients with cataracts, polio and cardiac, ophthalmic and ENT conditions.

Speaking to Eastern Eye, Patel said: “I am hugely humbled to receive this award. From a young age my mother taught us to give back and always put others first.

“I never imagined I would be recognised for my charitable work, but am honoured to receive this accolade.”

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