Information last updated on 05 July 2022
Sidi Mohamed Ghadda, Brahim Ghadda (brothers)
Earliest Documented Business Name:
About the Co-founders and Founding story
Sidi Mohamed and his younger brother Brahim (known as Bahaye) Ghadda were born in the city of Akjoujt, Mauritania, to a family of well-established entrepreneurs. In the late 1970s, Mauritania suffered major political instability, as the country, which had gained its independence from France less than two decades prior, experienced a military coup that brought the second post-independence president to power in 1978. Throughout this period, Mauritania’s level of development was “embryonic,” and its economy remained predominantly based on agriculture, animal husbandry, and small-scale fishing.
The Ghadda brothers describe Mauritania’s economic situation at that point as dire: “the country had to build itself from scratch… and financial capital was nonexistent.” They felt the patriotic need to help boost the newly developing national economy, and had faith in the promise of the market that would arise in the country over the coming decades. In 1980, building on their family’s legacy and a small amount of inherited wealth, the two brothers established a modest business in food importation and distribution, focusing on an industry of universal and perpetual necessity.
In the three decades between Mauritanian independence in 1960 and 1990, the country’s population nearly doubled in number, and by the end of that period, characterized by a massive rural exodus, 54% of residents lived in the capital, Nouakchott, and the surrounding, rapidly urbanizing area. Building their business in this booming market, the Ghadda brothers engaged in a major development push in the 1990s, venturing first into manufacturing and then diversifying into an array of additional industrial sectors. By the early 2000s, the family business had established production plants for confections, mineral water, and soap, as well as a food processing plant that would eventually become known as Grands Moulins d’Afrique (Big Mills of Africa). At that point, the business comprised around 600 employees and had consolidated its various operations within one group, Wafa Holding.
In 2010, the group started to branch out into larger operations, beginning with the establishment of Wafa Mining, which expanded into the petroleum industry in 2012. During this same period, the brothers founded Mauritanienne des Travaux et Constructions, which quickly grew into one of the country’s largest construction firms, with over 400 employees. Between 2010 and 2016, the group went on to create subsidiaries in a wide range of sectors, including energy, banking, logistics, real estate, insurance, and hospitality, making it one of the biggest companies in Mauritania. By 2016, Wafa Holding had become the largest importer of wheat, rice, sugar, and oil in the country, commanding around 40 percent of the national market share in multiple import sectors. The following year, Wafa Mining & Petroleum signed a multimillion-dollar partnership with Montreal-based Algold to facilitate exploration drilling and development in Mauritania. In 2021, the group opened a food processing factory, for which it hired 300 employees, in an effort to spur manufacturing in the country in the post-COVID era. 
Today, Wafa Holding is an integrated independent international holding company. Sidi Mohamed Ahmed Salem Ghadda is the group’s president, while his younger brother Brahim serves as general director. With seven operational departments and a substantial number of regional and international partnerships, the group maintains its status as one of the largest and most enterprising businesses in Mauritania.
Co-founding Brothers Sidi Mohamed and Brahim Ahmed Salem Ghadda. Source: WAFA Holding website
 Wafa Holding, Un Groupe Diversifié, Leader En Mauritanie. Directed by FInancial Afrik TV, 2021. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=4E0em5ViRmM. Last Accessed 05 July 2022
Biurher, Yurii. WAFA – Overview | AiHit. https://www.aihitdata.com/company/023EE78C/wafa/overview. Last Accessed 05 July 2022
 Mauritania Country Review, 2021 – Google Search. https://www.google.com/search?q=Mauritania+country+review%2C+2021&oq=Mauritania+country+review%2C+2021&aqs=chrome..69i57j33i160j33i22i29i30.618j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8. Last Accessed 05 July 2022
 “Algold Signs a Strategic Partnership with Wafa Mining & Petroleum and Completes a $3.7M Private Placement.” Bloomberg.Com, 13 July 2017. www.bloomberg.com, https://www.bloomberg.com/press-releases/2017-07-13/algold-signs-a-strategic-partnership-with-wafa-mining-petroleum-and-completes-a-3-7m-private-placement. Last Accessed 05 July 2022
 Biurher, Yurii. WAFA – Overview | AiHit. https://www.aihitdata.com/company/023EE78C/wafa/overview. Last Accessed 05 July 2022
To cite this article please use:
“WAFA Holding” Family Business Histories Research Project, New York University Abu Dhabi and Tharawat Family Business Forum, 20 Mar. 2023, familybusinesshistories.org/spotlights/wafa-holding