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Naivas: From village shop to retail giant

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Naivas Supermarkets, whose chairman, Mr Simon Gashwe Mukuha, died on Monday, started as a shop in a tiny village at Rongai trading centre on the fringes of Nakuru town.

The giant supermarket chain started off as Rongai Self Service Stores –a family shop – before its transformation into a retail giant.

Naivas founder, Peter Mukuha Kago, died in 2010 and left his children, among them Mr David Mukuha (director) and Simon Gashwe Mukuha (who died on Monday) as the heirs of the business.

Other siblings who own shares in Naivas include sisters Grace Wambui Mukuha and Linet Wairimu.

The late Gashwe was the administrator of their late fathers’ estate.

It is hard to believe that at least three decades ago, Naivas started as a small family shop in Rongai, operated by the Mukuhas, before emerging as a major player in the fiercely competitive retail business in Kenya.

In a past interview with the Nation, Mr Gashwe’s brother, David Mukuha, revealed the humble beginnings of Naivas Supermarkets shop in the 1990s.

“It first started as a small family business serving the village of Rongai in the outskirts of Nakuru town in 1992. I started it after convincing my brother, Simon Gashwe, that this type of business held the future for us and our family. We raised Sh200,000, which we used as capital for our retail store,” said Mr Mukuha.

From what appeared to be a small family retail shop, the Rongai Self Service Stores, as it was known then, and serving mainly residents of Rongai, grew into a major wholesale and distribution business and was registered as a company in 1993.

Two years later, the family business grew and spread with a new branch in Elburgon near Molo.

According to a family source, the Mukuhas ploughed back the profits from the business and opened another branch in Naivasha town, which they called Naivasha Self Service Stores.

In 1996, the family operated three outlets in Rongai, Elburgon, and Naivasha with the one in Naivasha as the head office before later rebranding to the current Naivas in 2007.

The business would later spread its wings to Nairobi in 2001, where it opened its first branch on Ronald Ngala Street, closing down its outlets in Rongai and Elburgon.

Over the years, Naivas Ltd has established itself as a reputable chain of supermarkets in Kenya.

Naivas now has 13 branches in Nairobi, Naivasha, Eldoret, Machakos, Embu, Kitui, Garissa and Narok.

It employs thousands of workers in its outlets across the country.

Nakuru is also home to at least four dominant supermarket brands including Tuskys Supermarket.

Interestingly Mr Joram Kamau, the founder of Tuskys, was a brother of Peter Mukuha Kago and the two helped each other nurture the family businesses to the giant supermarket chains they are today.

Others that also started off in Nakuru include Nakumatt, founded in Nakuru by Has Hashmuk Shah, the Haraka Kanini Enterprise, which deals in retail and wholesale, which also started off as a shop in Nakuru town after shifting from Kinangop.

Gilani’s Supermarket, Stagemart Supermarket and Rivanas Supermarkets are others which started off in Nakuru Town.

by Nation.co.ke

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Why Coca-Cola won’t take her

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Coca-Cola Company on Monday bowed to online pressure and stated their position the little girl from Baringo who warmed many hearts with viral photos of her joyfully sipping a Coke drink.

The pictures of four-year-old Joy Jebiwott, in a traditional African set-up,  said to have been taken by Daggy Shy, a Baringo born photographer, prompted Kenyans to launch an online campaign to have the multinational soft drink giant adopt the girl as their brand ambassador.

However, the company, in a statement, said they have a policy of not using anyone below the age of 12 years in marketing.

“This is pure happiness. You’ve made us smile by sharing this beautiful image. As a company we have made a decision not to use children under the age of 12 in our adverts and marketing worldwide, but we do love seeing the creativity and passion for our brand,” the company said in their statement.

Earlier, the father of the girl had expressed his joy with the viral photos saying he has no reservations with the company working with his daughter.

BRAND AMBASSADOR

“If it is possible for her to be made a Coca-Cola brand ambassador, it is okay,” Jacob Keror, the father of the girl stated.

The firm’s responsible marketing policy clearly states out that they do not design their marketing communications in a way that directly appeals to children under 12.

“Specifically, we will not use, in any communications created after the date of adoption of this policy: Celebrities or characters whose primary appeal is to children under 12, with the exception of brand equity characters already in use…Licensed merchandise whose primary appeal is to children under 12. Images of our products being consumed by children under 12 without an adult present. We will not feature any children who are, or appear to be, under 3,” Coca-Coca policy published on their website states.

By Nairobinews.nation.co.ke

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How illiterate boys from Rwathia village built Business Empire worth billions

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In the 1930s, a bunch of poverty-stricken boys from Rwathia village in Kangema, Murang’a County, walked to Nairobi with nothing but tattered clothes and a burning dream to find that elusive thing called mbeca (money). Little did they know that they would make tonnes of it.

Eighty years on, the value of property owned by the Rwathia businessmen in Nairobi, Thika, Murang’a and other towns runs into billions of shillings, with their billionaire sons and protégés control substantial wealth at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

The tough-as-nails capitalists from Rwathia provide a story of unrivalled dedication, passion and inspiration that enabled young boys, most of whom are now deceased, to transform their lives through hawking vegetables, selling charcoal and wattle bark, setting an example in ambition, personal discipline, frugality and entrepreneurship for generations.

Gerald Gikonyo Kanyuira, over 100 years old and still counting, is the only remaining patriarch of the great capitalist boys from Rwathia village that produced the legendary Rwathia Group of entrepreneurs, who control a swath of properties and businesses in downtown Nairobi.

As an indication of the sheer determination of the boys from Rwathia, at 102 years, Gikonyo, who once employed Equity Chairman Peter Munga as a casual labourer in one of their hotels, still supervises several businesses owned by the various groups from Rwathia.

The journey to massive wealth for these exceptional entrepreneurs started in 1930 when a group of boys came to Nairobi and set up a vegetable hawking business.

“We would buy the vegetables from Marikiti (Wakulima) Market from traders from Limuru, and sell them to Asian families,” said the father of 23 and husband to four wives who first worked as a farmhand in a Nyeri coffee plantation.

Some of the properties owned by Rwathia Group.

Since there were no banks for Africans then, the boys would send one of their friends back to the village to deliver some savings for safekeeping by the elders. When the boys in the city needed to increase their investment, they would go back to the village and get their savings. This cycle had a ripple effect. Seeing how their peers were able to save money, more boys from Rwathia were encouraged to go to the city and start similar or different businesses.

“There was a wave of boys from Rwathia coming to Nairobi. We encouraged it because we all wanted to do business together,” recalled Mzee Gikonyo, whose first child was born in 1936 and his last born 36 years later.

It is then that the Rwathia boys decided to form several savings groups and one person would belong to several of them. After seven years of selling vegetables and doing other businesses in Nairobi, the savings groups started buying buildings from Asians in Pumwani to set up shops and small dukas.

A group of five to 12 people would buy one shop and jointly start a business. The Asians were selling the shops to move closer to the city centre.

In 1952, the groups decided to start buying plots, on which they built residential and commercial buildings. But this new investment was disrupted the following year when the Mau Mau insurgency saw Kikuyus in Nairobi hounded and repatriated to restricted areas known as ichagi (villages).

The period that followed was of sheer destruction by the British colonialists. They particularly targeted Kikuyu-owned businesses as they suspected they were part of the Mau Mau support base. All that the Rwathia boys had built was razed to ashes.

Some of the properties owned by Rwathia Group.

By 1957, the Mau Mau war had slowed down because it was taking a toll on both combatants. The colonialists called for amnesty and began allowing some Kikuyus who had businesses back to Nairobi. The boys from Rwathia, now seasoned businessmen, took the offer and decided to up their ambitions.

“When we returned, we decided that we would henceforth enter the city centre, where we were not allowed before. Our idea was to rent buildings and start businesses,” said Mzee Gikonyo, who prefers boiro to roast meat.

“But most of the buildings we wanted to rent were owned by Asians. They were fearful of the Mau Mau, so many of them were migrating from Kenya and selling those buildings. This is how we started buying some of the buildings that we still own to date.”

“Again, we started buying in groups as we had done in Pumwani and Majengo. As many as 30 people would buy one building. All the small savings groups from Rwathia worked in harmony. So you would find one person owning shares in several groups. It was the best thing we did for ourselves,” explained Mzee Gikonyo.

Today, the Rwathia groups control prime properties in Nairobi, especially within areas on the east side of lower Tom Mboya Street, Ronald Ngara Street, River Road, among others, besides the beer distribution outfit, Rwathia Distributors.

Buildings and bar and restaurants like the famous Magomano, Kinangop, Njogu-ini, Eureka, Timboroa and Alfa Hotels, among others, are all owned by several savings groups from Rwathia.

“The big lesson that we learnt and which we would want generations to understand is that one cannot achieve much alone. It is important to cooperate, even if it is with your wife,” said Mzee Gikonyo.” People should come together. This is what I tell young men from Rwathia.”

He added: “We succeeded because we had passion for our businesses. It is important for people to have passion for what they do even if they are employed. If one is not passionate, it is better to resign than spoil other people’s business.”

According to Mzee Gikonyo, the Rwathia groups thrived on trust. “Each group would pick one of them to manage the business. Every month, members of the group come to inspect the financial books. At the end of the year, we divide the profits or re-invest,” said the man whose village founded an empire.

By SDE

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Bottle tops 2 Man arrested in Nairobi while ferrying hundreds of counterfeit liquor bottle tops

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Detectives from the Special Crime Prevention Unit in Nairobi on Saturday arrested a man who was transporting hundreds of counterfeit of different liquor bottle tops.

In a statement the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), said that detectives based at based at Parklands arrested one Samuel Mwangi Kariuki, 35, along Park Road while ferrying suspected counterfeit goods.

“Upon searching his vehicle, a Toyota Fielder (registration number KBS 275C), the detectives recovered 2000 pieces of Kibao Spirit bottle tops and 1000 pieces of Patiala Spirit bottle tops,” DCI said.

Police said the suspect was then escorted to his store situated at Civil Servant Estate within Ngara where police recovered more 550 pieces of Napoleon Gold spirit bottle tops, 800 pieces of Konyagi spirit bottle tops, 800 pieces of Kenya Cane spirit bottle tops and two rolls of Fake Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) stickers.

Four rolls of tape with London distillers Mark and a roll of Mau Mist natural spring water label were also recovered in the same store.

Police said the suspect will be charged with manufacturing and distributing alcoholic drink without a valid liquor licence within the jurisdiction of the county of Nairobi without liquor licence contrary to section 36(1)a and punishable under section 36(3) of the county of Nairobi City Alcoholic Drink control and Licensing Act, 2014.

By Nairobi News

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