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10 Kenyan women billionaires you’ve probably never heard of



Many Kenyans can name at least five if not 10 men who have made it to the billionaire status but their female counterparts are not as popular.

These subtle women, who enjoy a seat at the billionaires’ table, have huge investments that speak volumes about their financial war chest.

The 2018 Knight Frank Wealth Report indicated that of the 125 Kenyans who are worth over Ksh3 billion, only 23 are women.

This compilation deliberately left out women whose fortunes are tied to political dynasties such as Mama Ngina Kenyatta, the widow of Kenya’s first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

Former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta

We also avoided the usual suspects who are Tabitha Karanja of Keroche Breweries, Eddah Gachukia of Riara Group of Schools and Purity Gathoni who jointly controls Royal Media Services with husband SK Macharia.

1. Esther Muchemi
The founder and CEO of Samchi Telecom made her investments early when she spent Ksh50,000 of her savings to establish a Safaricom outlet as one of the early adopters of the network’s dealers.

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Her friends laughed at her but Esther knew what she was doing, a time when sim cards cost as high as Ksh 2, 500.

She has been able to recoup the investment many times to build one of the leading telecom dealerships. Her investments now cut across many industries like microfinance, real estate and hospitality where she owns five-star hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa.

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2. Jane Wanjiru Michuki
This high net worth lawyer has played her cards right at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

Her 9.5 per cent stake in Britam is reported to be worth Ksh5.4 billion. The stake is owned through an investment vehicle where she has a 44.4 per cent stake.

The Managing Partner at Kimani & Michuki Advocates was also very instrumental during the listing of Equity Bank at the NSE and was handsomely compensated for it.

3. Sadhna Thakrar
She is the owner of Naiya Indian Fashions and also married to the CEO of WPP Scangroup Bharat Thakrar.

Bharat made his wife a co-owner of his stake in the listed firm which is reported to be well over Ksh2 billion.  They collectively hold a 13.8 per cent stake in WWP Scangroup.

4. Jane Wangui Njuguna
Despite being the preferred life partner of Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi, she is said to own Ksh3.7 billion worth of shares at Equity Bank and Britam.

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They both hold the single largest family fortune at the bank. Wangui, together with Equity Bank founder Peter Munga also run an investment vehicle called Filimbi Limited which is among the top shareholders of Britam.

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Equity Bank Group CEO James Mwangi with his wife Jane Wangui Njuguna

5. Wacera Maina
Wacera enjoys her seat at the billionaires’ table courtesy of her stake at the biggest betting platform in Kenya, Sportpesa.

Her 21 per cent loaf of bread is only set to expand even more if Sportpesa makes good its plan to trade at the NSE.

According to Bloomberg, the firm rakes in Ksh100 billion in revenues annually.

6. Dr Catherine Nyongesa
This first female radiation oncologist in Kenya is the CEO of Texas Cancer Centre in Nairobi.

She took a Ksh100 million loan to establish the hospital which seems to have paid off in folds as the facility is now valued at over Ksh1 billion.

When she is not at her office running the hospital, she is either coordinating the KNH Cancer Treatment Centre or teaching UoN medical students.

7. Mary Okello
The Makini Schools founder raked in nearly Ksh1 billion in 2018 after selling 71 a per cent of her school to a UK-based firm and another South African company.

History will remember her for being the first African Woman to become a Branch Manager at Barclays Bank in 1977.

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Makini Schools founder Mary Okello

8. Amarjeet Patel
She is enjoined as a co-owner of her husband’s vast investments that are reported to be over Ksh3 billion.

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The serial stock market investor, Baloobhai Patel, also owns the lavish Sankara Hotel in Westlands Nairobi.

His portfolio cuts across gas manufacturing, insurance and banking.

The two have the single largest stake in Carbacid the leading supplier of food grade carbon dioxide used for carbonated beverages.

9. Leah Wanjiku Muguku
A saying goes, it is better to have a 0.1 per cent of a million than 100 per cent of 1000.

True to this, Leah’s 0.9 per cent stake at Equity Bank is worth an estimated Ksh1.2 billion.

The widow of the late Nelson Muguku also built the Ksh3 billion Waterfront mall at Karen, Nairobi County.

Nelson hatched his billions by supplying eggs to State House during President Jomo Kenyatta’s tenure. Mzee was known to consume not less than two dozen eggs weekly.

10. Lucy Mwiti & Faith Mwikali
The two women were listed among the top taxpayers by KRA in 2017.

They are classified among Kenya’s High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) whose annual income lies between Ksh350 million and Ksh1 billion.

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UoN masters degree finalist who sells eggs appeals for a job



A jobless graduate who’s finalising his masters degree is appealing for well-wishers to give him a job. Dennis Obiri Ogola from Ndumbuini in Kabete sells boiled eggs despite having a diploma, degree and is set to complete his master’s programme in early 2021.

“I’m currently doing my masters and I’m in my last semester of the coursework. I have a diploma in Procurement and Supply Chain Management from the Kenya Institute of Management and a Bachelor of Commerce degree (Procurement and Supply Chain Management option) from the University of Nairobi,” says Dennis.

Humble background, hawking eggs, rent arrears

The soft-spoken Dennis hails from a humble background and is the firstborn in a family of six children. Wellwishers enabled him to pursue his studies and he dreams of helping his younger siblings get a good education.

“I was helped by a children’s home to complete my primary school education. I joined high school in the same children’s home and because of my good manners, they offered to further my education. I did my diploma and after scoring a second class (upper division) in my degree, I got sponsors for the Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme at UoN,” he says.

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Dennis got into the eggs business after another well-wisher was touched by his plight and gave him the startup capital even though the proceeds scarcely meets his needs. On a good day, he makes Sh300 profit which he reinvests in the business, leaving him with peanuts to live off.

“I have some rent arrears but I spoke to the landlord and he’s understanding- but at the end of the day, he wants money.” Photo: Courtesy.

 “After hearing of my situation, an empathetic Human Resource practitioner in a financial institution gave me capital to start this business selling eggs and smokies. In a day, I sell a tray of boiled eggs at Sh600 (Sh20 per egg), making a Sh300 profit. I spend Sh300 on eggs for the next day and use some of the remaining money buy saviets, onions and tomatoes for kachumbari , wrapping papers and tomato sauce. The remainder of the money cannot pay my rent. I have some rent arrears but I spoke to the landlord and he’s understanding- but at the end of the day, he wants money,” he says.

“The far I’ve reached, it’s taken a lot of patience and perseverance. I would like to appeal to anyone with a job to offer me the opportunity. I dream of at least helping my siblings,” concludes Dennis, who has over ten certificates.

You can reach Dennis on 0705446010.

by SDE

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Introducing Baba Mboga



If you told Sydney Muhando last year that he would be running a fresh produce grocery city business, he definitely would not have agreed.

The online comedian and drama teacher who is also a video editor was on stage with his trainees in a competition when the first case of Covid-19 was announced in the country.

This was followed by indefinite closure of schools. For him, he knew it would only take a few days before schools reopen. It has now taken six months for candidates to resume their studies.

In the same period, Mr Muhando has grown his online business, Baba Mboga Deliveries, a name he says he chose because of its uniqueness.

Every morning, he wakes up at dawn to go to Wangige Market, one of the largest markets in Kiambu County where he gets assorted fruits and vegetables.

He then sorts them according to what has been ordered and packages them in bags ready to deliver to his customers doorsteps.

Social media pages

Most of the time, people especially in urban residential areas purchase their vegetables and other fresh products from local shops just near their homes commonly known as ‘Mama Mboga’.

“I stayed for two months without a job and life became difficult and  I knew I could not sustain myself for long. My friend had been sending me to the market to get grocery for him at a fee and that is how I identified the gap,”  he says.

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With a capital of Sh800 and running short of time, the 28-year-old started purchasing more food from the market, posting them on his social media pages to let his friends know about it. He then delivers them to his customers.

He explains that being a city, many residents hardly get time to go to the market, especially to get traditional or indigenous vegetables. There is also a growing culture for online shopping among Nairobi residents.

“In a city like Nairobi, most people are busy, so I took advantage of that to serve them in their own houses. Many people, were also scared of going to crowded market places fearing that they would contract the disease,”  he says.

Free delivery

For months, Mr Muhando has garnered a huge following both on Facebook and Instagram.

But it is not that easy to open and run social media pages for a full-time online business. Most businesses find it difficult to produce content to market their products.

Luckily, for Mr Muhando who is an online comedian, anything to do with technology is not so hard for him. It only took an hour to create and set up his Facebook account.

“It takes witty captions and for you to have a good camera. It is also important to post the prices. Without seeing the prices, the customers will not be interested in the products, especially if it’s a small business,”  he adds.

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He additionally posts the menu for his vegetables, with various discounts to attract customers including free delivery for those purchasing goods worth more than Sh1,000.

To have a variety and almost everything one needs in their kitchen, Baba Mboga apart from greens and fruits also sells spices such as ginger, garlic and onions, with starches such as sweet potatoes and arrowroots as well as eggs.

Invest in branding 

To grow his business, Mr Muhando says it was important to invest in branding for his audience to take it seriously.

He targets families and the busy clientele who could be at work or travelling. On a good day, he makes up to Sh2,000 after delivery.

In his recent innovation, as it is by some business owners who want to add value to their products, he has also introduced the bachelors package, where the traditional vegetables, which usually take time to be made are picked and sorted for easy preparation.

He also does extra services including chopping onions, tomatoes and preparing fruits or vegetables depending on the customer’s orders. Afterwards, he packs them in a branded reusable shopping bag.

As his business expands, Mr Muhando has sought partners who work with him, one, who is in charge of transport and deliveries while another is in charge of a walk-in store he is putting up.

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Major challenge 

His major challenge is finding the balance between the cost he uses to purchase the vegetables and delivering them at the customer’s doorstep.

“Since my customers are spread all over, the main issue is balancing the delivery that it does not eat into  my  profits. Competition is also high since more people are now tapping into this business so it requires a lot of improvement and incentives for the customers,”  he says.

Mr Muhando plans to expand his business and even have a walk in store, such as the popular Zucchini, which will in turn create employment for more people as his contribution to the country’s economy.

His advises to young people who unfortunately lost their jobs during the pandemic, “look for other jobs or set up your own businesses,  however small”.

“Keep trying, remember quality service is your biggest advertising,” says Mr Muhando.


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Keeping our family coffee business picking



When 41 -year-old Gitau Waweru Karanja was a boy, he recalls spending his school holidays in his grandfather’s coffee farm with his cousins. His late grandmother would push them to pick berries to earn pocket money. Though he took up his parents’ passion in interior design and studied Interior Design in Kwa Zulu Natal University in South Africa, he did he know that one day he would wake up and smell the coffee and participate in running his grandfather’s coffee farm.

Gitau is the third generation of his family to manage Karunguru Farm, which belonged to his late grandfather Geoffrey Kareithi. Kareithi had bought the 300-acre farm in Ruiru, from a white settler in 1972. Gitau is married to Wangeci Gitau who grew up in Maragwa, in Murang’a where they also had a coffee farm.

Values instilled

For Wangeci, despite growing up in the coffee fields, she was more passionate about tourism and was a travel consultant before becoming a tour manager at a local company.

In 2012, she got an ectopic pregnancy, which put her on bed rest and thus was compelled to quit her job. When she recovered, she began assisting her husband. “By that time, my husband was selling modern house doors, but the business took a while to pick. Then we began selling milk from Karunguru Farm, but the milk production went down in 2016. The management, comprising of family members, told us to address the issue by becoming dairy managers. But when we joined the management of Karunguru Farm, we saw an opportunity in coffee tours,” she says.

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Taking cue from South Africa where they do wine tourism and also export wine, Gitau and his wife sought to use that knowledge in their coffee farm. “We started Karunguru Coffee and Tours after we found out that despite it being our main export, it was being underutilised when it comes to tourism. So, here we take visitors through the journey that coffee has to go through before getting to your cup,” explains Gitau. Everything is done in Karunguru Farm— including value addition such as processing coffee, drying and even roasting. “We have our very own packaged Karunguru Coffee, which is available in the market,” he adds.

Their late grandfather instilled in them a love for each other and every holiday it is the family culture to meet and bond as a family. The grandpa also ensured that the farm management is shared amongst all his seven children who meet every week to discuss the business of the farm. Once they come to an unanimous decision, it is then passed on to their children, who implements their decision.

Before one is given any role, you have _ . to be qualified for the position. “It’s not about being favoured, but your qualification. I am in tourism, so I handle the tourism aspect, my husband is in operations. In fact, one applies for the position and then you are interviewed. If you qualify, you are placed on probation until the management is satisfied that you can handle the role well,” says Wangeci.

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No entitlement

What makes family business go down is the fact that people who are less qualified are employed. Other people have to cover up for their messes and this creates bitterness and conflict. Gitau sometimes watches his nephews and nieces in the farm, giving them roles to check out whether they have interest in the farm or not before beginning to mentor them. Everyone begins from the lowest level and must know how to roast, pack, as well as prepare a cup of Karunguru coffee. This is to en inculcate the spirit of appreciation and value for the workers employed to do the role.

“My uncles always tell us that we didn’t come in the business because we are their children, but because of the passion we had in the business. With that, entitlement is killed and we ensure that we do our best to take the farm to higher levels,” says Gitau

They don’t entertain gossip,  ‘‘ but if someone has an issue, I then the person is invited ‘ to a meeting where one is confronted and told in love where they have missed the mark.


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