Gupta-owned Sahara Computers rakes in R1.1bn

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 08 Sept 2016
Oakbay seeks to disrupt industries and this makes it unpopular among the establishment, says Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments.
Oakbay seeks to disrupt industries and this makes it unpopular among the establishment, says Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments.

Gupta family-owned Sahara Computers has reported R1.1 billion in revenue.

This morning, Sahara parent Oakbay Investments, which is not listed, released what it dubbed "maiden results" for the year ended 29 February, emphasising the majority of its dealings are not government-related.

"Sahara is the second highest contributor to the group, reporting R1.1 billion of revenue - 44% of group revenue," the company says in a statement. "Sahara also does not have any government contracts, following a deliberate decision taken by its board in 2008," it adds.

Despite the controversies facing the company, Oakbay says group revenue increased by 7% to R2.62 billion from R2.44 billion last year. Government contracts accounted for 8.9% of the group's revenue, it notes.

The alleged close ties between the Guptas and president Jacob Zuma have drawn widespread criticism, with accusations the family used its "proximity" to the president to "offer" Cabinet positions. First National Bank, Absa and Standard Bank closed the controversial Gupta family's accounts following the so-called "state capture" allegations.

Established in 1994, Sahara is an independent IT distributor in Southern Africa. On its Web site, the company says it has over 6 000 channel partners. The Guptas started Sahara Computers with R1.2 million after spotting a gap in the market created by established tech giants that were selling at huge mark-ups.

The company says contrary to some misperceptions, Oakbay has been operating successfully in SA for 20 years and has a track record of strong business performance in a number of sectors.

Operations began in the IT sector with Sahara Computers and have since diversified into a variety of sectors, including mining, media and engineering, it notes, pointing out that this diversification has enabled consistent growth and job creation throughout times of both economic boom and bust.

"Sahara has a special place in Oakbay's journey. Not only was it the group's first company, but it is the division in which many of our current senior personnel were schooled in the group's business philosophy. Whilst some audiences may think that Oakbay is a relatively recent arrival in South Africa, the Sahara notebook was the number one South African-branded notebook as far back as 2005. We began to diversify operations beyond IT a decade or so ago."

"I am proud to share with wider audiences some insight into Oakbay's business model, strategy and turnover levels. I hope this will help audiences understand our operations and dispel some of the myths that have been built up about our group - especially the myth that we are heavily reliant on government business, when nothing could be further from the truth," says Nazeem Howa, chief executive of Oakbay Investments.

"Following the herd is not what Oakbay is about and we do things slightly differently. We seek to disrupt industries and this makes us unpopular among the establishment. We also take a long-term perspective on opportunities. This is all done with two goals in mind - profit and job creation - which we believe are equally important."