Brothers Haroon and Farouq Sheikh were both born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1956 and 1958 respectively. The brothers’ paternal grandfather, Sheikh Fazal Elahi, a commodities merchant, emigrated from present-day Pakistan to Kenya in the early part of the 20th century. Sheikh Elahi was a pious man who spent a lot of time in Saudi Arabia and, during his visits, built up a significant business trading goods and commodities between the Middle East and East Africa. He invested the proceeds from this trade in long-term projects in Kenya.
Deciding to spend the final years of his life in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Elahi transferred these businesses in trust to two of his children, Sheikh Mohammed Bashir and his younger brother Sheikh Abdul Rashid (Haroon’s and Farouq’s father), who was born in Pakistan in 1925. Sheikh Rashid emigrated from Pakistan to Kenya to look after the businesses entrusted to him by Sheikh Fazal, from whom he inherited much of his commercial acumen.
Sheikh Rashid was very successful in business in East Africa, especially in developing the family’s sisal plantations covering some 33,000 acres, equipped with machinery to manufacture sisal fibre used around the world to make ropes, twines and fishermen’s nets.
In 1954, Sheikh Rashid married Fahmida, whose family had also emigrated from Pakistan.
The Sheikh family businesses in Kenya flourished, and because of the distances involved in supervising them, Rashid took flying lessons, qualified as a pilot and bought himself an aeroplane. On the morning of 5 June 1963, Sheikh Rashid was flying his plane and tragically lost his life as the plane came down in a tree-covered mountainous area. Sheikh Rashid was 38 and his wife just 28, their married life together ending after only eight years.
Following his death, a group of trustees were appointed, led by Sheikh Siddique, one of Fahmida’s elder brothers, to manage the disposition of Sheikh Rashid’s estate. In 1968, Sheikh Siddique and his brothers decided it was time for the family to leave East Africa for the UK. Against a backdrop of political turmoil and bloodshed, the family were fortunate to secure a relatively orderly exit from Kenya. So, in 1969, the Sheikhs boarded a plane at Nairobi Airport to build a new life in the UK.
Haroon and Farouq first established a track record developing and selling retail operations. They then formed CareTech in 1993, providing high-standard residential care services for people with learning disabilities. From a single small care home, the company has grown into one of the largest providers in the UK in its specialist field. The company listed on the stock exchange in 2005.
As individuals the Sheikh brothers are quite different, but they work well together. They have deep respect for each other and their presence is a major source of strength and calm in the business. Their Islamic background and commitment to family life provide them with special insights and creative perspectives. In short, they run a highly professional business underpinned by strong family, social and ethical values – a formidable combination.