October 18, 2010 — Mr. Pandju Merali was born in Moba, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the fifth of six children. His father and mother emigrated from Gujarat, India, and opened many small shops and businesses in the DRC. For most of his education, Mr. Merali was home-schooled because neither white nor black schools in the DRC granted him admission due to his Indian ethnicity. When he was 19, he moved to Rwanda in search of new opportunities. Over the next 10 years, Mr. Merali became a prominent businessman and founded numerous import-export and manufacturing businesses. During this time, he met his wife Shirin, and they started a family in the DRC. They went on to live in England, Canada and the United States, while Mr. Merali took his business acumen global through corporate investments and property. He eventually settled into the hotel industry, and co-owns hotels with his two sons. Looking back on his life with no access to formal education, Mr. Merali’s life experiences made him greatly value education, giving back to the community, and investing in people.
After a long and successful career, Mr. Merali retired and soon after established a foundation in memory of his wife, Shirin Merali. The Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation is committed to educating girls in the sciences in developing countries. He is currently supporting an Asia Foundation scholarship program that will enable 60 Mongolian women to attain university degrees. Mr. Merali’s lack of formal education fueled his commitment to supporting education for young women throughout the developing world—making their dreams of attaining a university education come true.
Mr. Merali currently lives in Seal Beach, California. His three children, Karim, Azim, and Yasmin have pursued successful careers around the country and he has four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.