10. Suhura Ismail Khan
Suhura Ismail Khan was born in the 1960’s in the Somali region city of Jijiga in the eastern part of Ethiopia. Following the line of work her parents were in, Suhura upon growing older began her own small business khat dealership.
As a khat street vendor, her profits were very small until she began to explore the business opportunities in the neighboring country of Somaliland.
Over 80% of the people in Somaliland are avid chewers of khat, but due to the harsh climate in the region, the cultivation of khat is not possible, leaving them dependent on Ethiopian khat.
Taking advantage of this huge business opportunity, Suhura was able to quickly expand her business in an explosive manner.
Today, Suhura runs her khat empire from Jijiga with thousands of employees, a multitude of transport trucks, and even an airline of her own (Suhura Airways).
She controls over 50% of the khat market in Ethiopia and is also a leader in global sales of the product.
By 2008, Suhura would pay 37,000,000 USD or 999,000,000 ETB in taxes to the Ethiopian government.
Having ten children, Suhura planned to retire from her business and go on an extended pilgrimage in 2010, but her 4 eldest sons managed to incur losses of up to 1,000,000 Euros in a short period of time.
Seeing this unfortunate management crisis, Suhura returned to the helm of the business.
By 2011, Suhura was selling between 30-40 tons of khat every day and was also using Ethiopian embassies and consulates as a means of organizing sales worldwide.
She has been named Ethiopian Entrepreneur of the Year several times and her accolades in her industry prove that Suhura Khan is one of Ethiopia’s richest people.