Ken Sharpe Zimbabwe Businessman and Philanthropist

Ken was born on the 27thof January, 1973 in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). He spent his childhood in the colonized country until he was forced to depart for neighboring South Africa during it’s violent civil war in 1978. He would later return to the landlocked Zimbabwe after it gained its independence in 1980. Upon his arrival back, seven year old Ken was catapulted into a new era of social change, cultural integration and uncertainty from a land he used to be familiar with.

In 1988, at the age of fifteen, Ken decided to travel overseas.

Ken wouldn’t return to Africa for another two years. This is where he met the love of his life, Joanna; who was from the Ukraine (Soviet Union at the time). The couple were married in 1993 and three years later welcomed their only daughter, beautiful Tatiana, who today is – amongst many other talents – head of her own philanthropic organization, an African ballroom dancing champion, and “the youngest book writer in Zimbabwe” having written “The Lonely Tiger” – a children’s book.

In 1990, Ken established a confectionery and food distribution business.

Over the last 20 years the business has ripened into the Holdings Company “West Group.” Some of the visions have been: West Food Distribution, West Beverages (bottling), West Agencies, Intercrop (Agri Inputs), West Sanitary Pads Manufacturing, West Oils (edible Oils), FellowGold Mining and West Properties and Augur Investments Ltd (Real Estate Development).

January 2007 – A second chance.

A private family man, Ken’s and Joanna have been married for 19 years, raising their daughter together but also sponsoring a foster son for the last three years – particularly in education. His family is his number one priority and main source of hope, inspiration, courage and love. After family, Ken’s other passions are traveling, cycling, theater, skiing, God and philanthropy, and simply relaxing with friends and family. He’s also discovered an immeasurable passion for simply being alive; having been given a second chance.

January 2007 would be another life altering year for the young businessman, but in a very different way. Whilst on a private family vacation to Whistler, Canada Ken survived a life threatening ski accident. As a result of the mishap, he suffered from the possibility of permanent brain damage and memory loss. According to doctors, his chance of recovery was only 2% and the outcome looked bleak. After surgery and many prayers from friends and family, Ken miraculously woke up after five days in a coma; ironically on his daughter’s 11th birthday (something she hoped and had faith that it would happen). But during what seemed like his hour of desperation, Ken had a spiritual encounter which altered his perception and perspective on life. He believes life is a precious gift from God’s and what we do with it is our gift to Him, and his purpose and mission going forward is to make real lasting and sustainable changes in his personal, family and business life. “Paying back” what’s been given to him, Ken actively participates in charitable and philanthropic activities in his country and all over the world. Ken has also interacted at a senior Government level in Zimbabwe in an attempt to try and contribute positively toward the socio/economic impact he has in his homeland by making a difference. His focus is to drive poverty alleviation, job creation and responsible transformational development through FDI (foreign direct investment) – hence his involvement in the World Economic Forum – where he represents the Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) as the “Doing Business in Africa” and the “Family Philanthropy Network” Chair. He has been an active member of the Harare YPO Chapter since February 2005, serving as the Chapter Forum Chair, Education Chair and youngest Chapter Chairman in 2008. Ken has given presentations and speeches on these experiences and his resultant driving motivation is being enthralled throughout the world.

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