The Dembe Group is one of very few Heritage Corporations in Uganda and Eastern Africa. Dembe translates as “Peace” in the local Luganda language and was given to the few Ugandan Asian businessmen that stayed through the turbulent times in Uganda. The Dembe name commands significance wherever it is listed.
Operations began in 1920 under the name Radium Distributors, founded by Mr Abdul Hamid Hirji, a second generation Ugandan. Radium was one of the largest Distribution House in the British East Africa, with sole distributorship of brands such as Treetops and Rowntree. The company was very professional in its approach, as it gained momentum through its in-depth coverage and thorough distribution channels, reaching as far as Northern Uganda during a time where vehicle-led distribution was unheard of. This is the genesis for Dembe Trading Enterprises Ltd, and explains why from an embryonic period, distribution has been in the blood of this company.
Due to the breakup of the British Empire and National Independence of States in the 1960’s, the Principles decided that Africa was not a market worth venturing into, and preferred to consolidate their European Investments. Consequently, the Company needed new lifeblood and an invigoration of culture. The new company, led by the group Chairman Mr Karim Hirji assumed control the parent company in the 1960’s and begun Trading in Imported FMCG goods. Dembe Investments (as it was called) was the sole distributor in Uganda for brands such as: Grants Whisky, Pirelli Tyres, Diageo Spirits and various Far Eastern Textile Brands. This eclectic mix of items was borne out of necessity rather than a predestined choice of brands.
Due to the political instability in the 1970’s the economy crashed, and Dembe had to re-invent itself. It continued to trade in the above lines, however business was understandably opportunistic and the group then diversified into Real Estate, Pharmaceuticals and Hotels.
Dembe Trading Enterprises Ltd, the Distribution arm and division of the Dembe Group was born in 1994 and founded by Mr Anil Damani (Managing Director). The Group is now a thriving Fourth Generation business with investments ranging from FMCG Distribution, Manufacturing, Automotive Service Centres and Commercial/Residential Real Estate amongst other investments.