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Uhuru mourns Sarit Center co-owner Bachubhai

President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent a message of condolence to the family, friends and relatives of businessman Sobhagayachand Vidhu Shah who passed away Tuesday at a Nairobi hospital.

Mr Shah, 86, is a prominent Kenyan businessman and entrepreneur, who owns, among other investments, the Sarit Center in Westlands, Nairobi County.

In his message of comfort and encouragement, the President described the late Shah, popularly known as Bachubhai, as one of Kenya’s finest and visionary entrepreneurs whose business acumen contributes greatly to the country’s economy.

“Mzee Bachubhai was a true patriot and a nationalist who created job opportunities for many Kenyans through his entrepreneurial exploits. He strongly and truly believed, and lived the Kenyan dream of hardwork, determination and success.

“His entrepreneurial spirit saw him establish Sarit Centre, Kenya’s first shopping mall in the 1980s when nobody else thought about it. He did not stop at that but moved on to establish several other successful businesses including Text Book Centre which has continued to quench Kenyans thirsty for knowledge,” the President said.

President Kenyatta said Mzee Bachubhai has left a rich and enduring legacy of success and prayed to God to grant his family strength and fortitude to bear the loss.

“Mzee Bachubhai was exceptional in his commitment to both business and community, as demonstrated by the success of his businesses and contributions to philanthropic causes. He believed in hard work, excellence and forging of strong bonds of friendship amongst Kenyans of all walks of life,” the President mourned.

Sarit Centre, which opened its doors in April 1983, has, however, managed to stave off increased competition and still cater to an average 40,000 visitors every day.

Sarit Centre was founded by two close friends Vidhu Shah and Maneklal Rughani.

After Kenya’s Independence, the two, who were separately working in family businesses in Murang’a and Karatina towns respectively, saw an opportunity in the exodus of foreigners.

They relocated to Nairobi to sell school books. In 1964, the duo founded Text Book Centre, a bookshop with more than 10 branches in Nairobi and one in Kakamega.

Mr Shah was at this time living on the site currently housing Sarit together with his extended family.

After visiting a shopping centre in London, Mr Rughani, discussed with Vidhu and decided to replicate what he saw in Nairobi.

Construction was abruptly halted following a coup attempt in 1982, forcing the duo to scale down the project. However, in April 1983, they opened their doors.