JOHANNESBURG - While drinking in a nightclub in Mozambique in 2015, Kamal Moukheiber had an idea: a luxury cigar made not in Cuba, but in southern Africa.
The Lebanese former banker glanced at a customer puffing at what looked like an imported cigar and thought: "What's wrong with Africa producing cigars?"
"Africa has been growing tobacco for 100 years," Moukheiber, 50, told Reuters. We have the land, we have the water, we have the skill set. So what's missing?"
His business, Bongani Cigars - it means "be grateful" in Zulu - was conceived as a small, fun project. Now it produces nearly 10,000 cigars a month, small numbers compared to the big producers. It sells in South Africa, Kenya and Mozambique, where some of its tobacco is grown.
Moukheiber said Bongani would launch in Nigeria this year and, he hoped, the United Kingdom, and aims to be the cigar of choice for African professionals who want to flaunt their wealth or success.