Dr. Rakesh Wahi
Founder & Chairman
Dr. Rakesh Wahi
"As an entrepreneur there are no half measures; you have to be 'all in'. Be fearless like a lion. Take bold decisions in the face of adversity and stand by them and by your people, irrespective of the odds."

Dr. Rakesh Wahi is a visionary entrepreneur who has been involved with early stage investments in emerging markets for the last 34 years. He is Chairman of CMA Investment Holdings that has representation through its portfolio companies in over 15 countries.

Dr. Wahi is the co-founder of the ABN Group that includes CNBC Africa, Forbes Africa and ABN Productions. He is also the co-founder of Trans National Academic Group that owns Curtin University Dubai, Lancaster University Ghana, TAG Middle East and ABN Training Institute. He is also the co-founder of Tech One Global which is one of Asia’s most awarded IT Company that is a technology solutions integrator. In addition to these, Dr. Wahi serves on the Board of the Stellenbosch University Enterprises (Pty) Limited.

Prior to moving to the UAE in 1988/89, Dr. Wahi served with the Corps of Engineers in the Indian Army for about 9 years; and for distinguished services to the country in peacetime, was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) by the President of India in 1985. Dr. Wahi was also part of India's scientific expedition to the Antarctica where he established India's second base in 1987/88.

Dr. Wahi has been honored by various stock exchanges to ring the bell including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (2014 & 2017), the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Zambian Stock Exchange.

Dr. Wahi is the founder of the Africa Business Leaders Awards, the Person of the Year Award, Forbes Woman of the Year Award and the African of the Year Award that are held across Sub Sahara Africa. In its 11th year, the awards recognize outstanding leadership across different disciplines. Some of the most renowned names in Africa are the recipient of these awards.

Dr. Wahi is founder of the ABN Education Trust in South Africa and the TAG Foundation in Ghana to finance the education of children from previously disadvantaged families in Africa. The Trust also contributes to other causes including orphanages and destitute women in Africa. His philanthropic activities extend to India where the family has made contributions to primary education in villages, electrification of villages and bursaries for young women at a vocational center in Dehradun and bursaries for school children at several institutions.

Dr. Wahi is a keen golfer and the founder of the CNBC Africa Corporate Golf Challenge, a prestigious golf tournament hosted annually by him for top corporates in South Africa the proceeds of which go towards charity.

In March 2013, as part of a team building exercise, Dr. Wahi led a team of 15 members from his company to the top of Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free standing mountain. 100% of the team made it to the top. In April 2015, Dr. Wahi took a team from his company to climb the Everest Base Camp when the earthquake struck; he brought them all back safely to Dubai.

In Nov 2016, Dr. Wahi published his memoirs through an autobiography titled “Be a Lion” that was published by Penguin South Africa. The book is available via Amazon.


Dr. Wahi was educated at the Doon School in India and later earned a Bachelor of Science degree (National Defence Academy 1979) and a Bachelor of Technology degree in Civil Engineering (College of Military Engineering 1986) from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Dr. Wahi is a Member of the Institute of Engineers, Calcutta, India and a Fellow Member of the Australian Institute of Management. Dr. Wahi was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Science from the International University of Management by the Minister of Education of Namibia in October 2012.

Golf /
Mountaineering /
Reading /
Interested in
Electric Vehicles /
Eduction /
Thought Leadership
Press and Media
Past Transactions
Company NameDescription
CDC CAPITAL MANAGEMENTLocation: USSector: MediaTransaction Type: Asset Management
The managers of CMA established this special purpose vehicle to invest into Seaport Capital Partners a US$ 250 million media, tech and IT fund based in North America. CMA pooled several smaller investors and made a single capital commitment to Seaport for the investment. CMA currently manages this SPV and is responsible to protect the investors’ interests in Seaport Capital partners.
FINANCIAL ADVISORS TO INJAZAT TECHNOLOGY FUNDLocation: USSector: CommunicationsTransaction Type: Asset Management
The managers of CMA were retained as the financial advisors to Injazat Technology Fund (ITF). ITF is a US$ 50 million regional Islamic fund set up by the Islamic Development Bank for early stage investments into the IT, communications and technology sectors. The managers of CMA were responsible for structuring the fund, developing the PPM, fund raising, generating deal flow and evaluating investment opportunities and making investment recommendations to the Investment committee of the fund.
TWO-WAY INTERNET PROJECT, KUWAITLocation: KuwaitSector: CommunicationsTransaction Type: IT & CommunicationsYear: 2003
CMA was retained by EEMC, a division of Securities House, Kuwait to carry out a feasibility study for a two way Internet project for the Middle East. The study was focused on 19 countries in the Middle East and is the most comprehensive study that has eve been commissioned for this sector in the region. The company, Streamlink Communications was established in 2003.
ELECTRONIC DATA STORAGE AND IMAGING COMPANYLocation: US, Dubai, KuwaitTransaction Type: IT & CommunicationsYear: 2004
CMA was the exclusive financial advisor to Valuevad, a leading document management company based in Dubai. CMA was involved with strategic advise on the company’s growth strategy in the Middle East and India, for preparing the Information Memorandum, corporate restructuring and to secure financing for the company. CMA arranged US$ 500,000 in working capital and is in the process of establishing joint ventures for the company in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt and India. The company’s business model is based on Dicom Group and was acquired by the Dicom Group in 2004.
MOBILE OPERATOR IN MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICALocation: US, KuwaitSector: TechnologyTransaction Type: IT & CommunicationsYear: 2002
CMA represented MSI the largest mobile operator (1 million subscribers) in sub Saharan Africa. The company had an EBITDA of US$ 100 million in 2002 and was raising its 5 th round of financing (US$ 200 million) for which CMA was its exclusive representative for the Middle East. CMA was co-manager with Rothschild, UK. MSI (Celtel) was finally acquired by MTC from Kuwait in 2005.
FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR ISP IN SAUDI ARABIATransaction Type: IT & CommunicationsYear: 1997
The managers of CMA carried out a detailed Feasibility Study, while working for CDC, prior to bidding for an ISP license in Saudi Arabia in 1997. While the business model was sound from a market opportunity perspective, CDC’s management chose to defer entering the market as 60 licenses were being awarded and rather than compete at a start up stage and grow organically, the management of CDC decided to defer the development of the business through future acquisitions.
DUE DILIGENCE FOR INVESTMENTS IN EXISTING REGIONAL ISP’SLocation: US, KuwaitSector: TechnologyTransaction Type: IT & Communications
As advisors to the Injazat Technology Fund (a US$ 50 million Islamic fund set up by the Islamic Development Bank and Gulf Finance House) the managers of CMA carried out detailed due diligence, while working for CDC, on regional ISP’s in Lebanon, Kuwait and in Saudi Arabia. The managers therefore have extensive knowledge on the regional Middle Eastern ISP market.
PREPAID CALLING LICENSE, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIASector: CommunicationsTransaction Type: IT & CommunicationsYear: 1998
During their tenure with CDC the managers of CMA identified and developed a pre-paid calling card business in Saudi Arabia. In August 1998, a CDC-backed consortium won one of the seven preliminary prepaid calling card licenses awarded by the Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC). In July of 1999, ATC was awarded one of four final prepaid calling card licenses by the STC. CDC utilized this license to create Advanced Telecommunications Company (ATC), which manufactures, markets and sells prepaid calling cards and operates the related telecommunications platform to facilitate their use. ATC is one of the first privately owned telecommunications companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
SRI LANKAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANYSector: CommunicationsTransaction Type: IT & Communications
The managers of CMA has worked in conjunction with CEA’s India-based affiliate to seek strategic investors for an Indian venture company that holds exclusive licenses to operate new media and telecommunications businesses in the sub-continent. The first phase of the project is the development of an entity to exploit an existing MMDS operation in Sri Lanka to include the development of programs and content.
DOCUMENT MANAGEMENTLocation: US, DubaiSector: TechnologyTransaction Type: IT & CommunicationsYear: 2001
The managers of CMA were involved with providing corporate finance and corporate advisory services to DocMan which is a document management company based in Dubai. The managers of CMA secured US$ 1.4 million in financing for the Company at the end of 2001 at which time venture capital had virtually dried up in the market for the IT and technology sectors. The managers of CMA served on the Board of the Company.
GOLF CHANNELLocation: Middle EastSector: MediaTransaction Type: Media
CMA is the exclusive Investment Banker for Sports Media Group for the setting up of a Golf Channel in the Middle East and subcontinent under the franchise agreement with an international brand. CMA is providing end-to-end corporate finance services for this project.
CNBC PAKISTANTransaction Type: Media
CMA is the exclusive advisor to the founders of CNBC Pakistan. CMA provided end-to-end corporate finance services for this project to include but not limited to the feasibility study, bidding for the broadcast license, franchise negotiations and capital raising.
CNBC ARABIALocation: Middle EastTransaction Type: Media
The management of CMA were strategic advisors to the Chairman of CNBC Arabia. The management has been involved with establishing the corporate structure, sales and marketing strategy and helped the channel to secure distribution platforms in the Middle East.
ELAN MEDIALocation: QatarSector: MediaTransaction Type: Media
CMA was retained to conduct a feasibility study for the consolidation of media assets in Qatar into a single entity. Based on CMA’s report a Corporation has been formed and the business plan is being implemented.
IHLAS MEDIASector: MediaTransaction Type: MediaYear: 2004
CMA was retained by Ihlas holding from Turkey in 2004 to carry out an assessment of the media industry specifically relating to the launch of a Pan Arab Satellite Television channel. In 2005 CMA prepared a business plan for the channel and provided strategic advisory services to the Client regard different aspects of the business. The project is currently under implementation.
DIMCC SATELLITE CHANNELLocation: DubaiSector: CommunicationsTransaction Type: MediaYear: 1999
The managers of CMA assisted Dubai International Media and Communications Company (DIMCC), while working with CEA/CDC, to develop a comprehensive Business Plan for launching a new Pan-Arab satellite television channel in the Middle East. HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum owns the company. Through detailed proprietary research carried out in 16 countries throughout the region and a focused analysis of financial drivers, the managers of CMA provided the client with a comprehensive business plan and financial analysis. The channel had clear objectives including non-commercial objectives to show case Dubai and the business plan evaluated the channel strategy, programming & content, sales and marketing, technical overview and a very comprehensive evaluation of the advertising spend in the region. The business plan was presented to Sheikh Mohammed in March 1999.
PAN-ARAB HOME SHOPPING CHANNELLocation: KuwaitSector: TechnologyTransaction Type: Media
The managers of CMA completed a Feasibility Study for a regional home shopping satellite-delivered television channel, while working with CEA/CDC. This study included an analysis of commissioned market research as well as the examination of critical components of the television service including programming, products, the telephone ordering process and technology, order fulfillment requirements, payment procedures, marketing, distribution (via satellite and terrestrial) and uplink/downlink location. The Managers were subsequently hired for establishing the joint venture with QVC. The clients were a Kuwaiti consortium including Sayer Enterprises and the Yousuf Ibrahim Alghanim group
TELEVISION CONTENT REDISTRIBUTIONLocation: Middle EastTransaction Type: Media
The managers of CMA have carried out a detailed feasibility study for setting up a content and program redistribution company in the Middle East. The study evaluated the content in the region and the shortfall in good quality content and the reliance by Middle East broadcasters on content from the West.
MEDIA FUNDLocation: Middle EastSector: MediaTransaction Type: Media
The managers of CMA carried out a detailed evaluation for setting up a media fund to support the production industry in the Middle East. The fund was planned under the auspices of HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to support the media city.
STRATEGIC PLAN FOR ARABSATLocation: Middle EastSector: TechnologyTransaction Type: Media
The managers of CMA, while working with CEA/CDC, were retained by Arabsat to evaluate the Middle East market for current and future broadcast trends and to assist Arabsat in better understanding the market impact of its impending migration from C-band to Ku-band satellite services across the region. Through primary research carried out in the GCC, Levant and North Africa, the managers of CMA, assisted Arabsat in ascertaining the response to its planned service, as well as the impressions of its existing Pan-Arab service. During the course of this project, the managers worked closely with leading broadcasters serving the Middle East and developed critical insight into their short and medium term strategies, particularly relating to technology and distribution in the Middle East.
CABLE TV VENTURE, OMANTransaction Type: Media
CMA's managers in a consortium representing CEA, Majid Al Futtaim Group and Ominvest conducted a preliminary research study for a MMDS cable TV business in Oman. The intent was to fund and manage a cable TV business in Oman for which a techno-commercial study was carried out. The project was eventually abandoned owing to delays in approval and licensing by the government of Oman.
DATA NETWORK JOINT VENTURE , BEIRUT, LEBANONLocation: Middle EastTransaction Type: Media
Solidere holds an exclusive license for the provision of data and video broadband services to all tenants within the Solidere concession area located in central Beirut. The managers of CMA, while with CEA/CDC, had conducted all the business and technical studies associated with the proposed broadband network using internal as well as external resources. The Solidere broadband network was to deliver video (cable TV) and data services to the tenants of the Solidere concession area, including private companies, local and international banks, government offices and agencies, international inter-governmental agencies, hotels and private residential units. This broadband network was planned to be the first privately owned and operated broadband network serving a major metropolitan area in the Middle East