They are young, mostly in their 40s and 50s. They are self-made entrepreneurs with a sharp eye for money spinning ventures in Kenya economy. Meet the new class of super rich Kenyans. Away from the media glare, the new billionaires are slowly edging out of boardrooms owners of the old money in virtually every sector of Kenya’s economy. Today, The People profiles the 12 Kenyans topping the list of owners of the new money in town.
Dr Evans Kidero
People know him as the Governor of Nairobi and the former chief executive of Mumias Sugar Company. But not many know that Kidero is a top notch investor with a multi-billion real estate empire.
Kidero’s climb to the top of the money mountain is a typical rags to riches narrative. Born to a policeman in the city’s Majengo slum, the man at the helm in the Kenyan capital city had a difficult start in life but beat the odds to graduate as a pharmacist at the University of Nairobi. His entry into big money began in 2000 when he founded a real estate venture, Relocation Kenya.
The company has since developed multibillion estates in city upmarket areas including Karen, Runda, Upperhill, and State House Road. It is also present in Kisumu’s Milimani area with luxury apartments overlooking Lake Victoria. Kidero’s latest investment is Yala Towers, a modern office block within the city’s Central Business District, off Koinange Street.
Kidero also has a huge presence in the banking and media sectors. He is the second largest shareholder in Family Bank with a 3.2 million share portfolio worth over Sh100 million. In the media, his interests are in Radio Africa Group, the holding company that has The Star newspaper, Kiss TV, and a host of FM stations under its stable.
He is a self-effacing telecommunications engineer and owner of the telecommunications giant, Linksoft Systems. The company provides support services to everybody who is somebody in the telephony industry including Safaricom, Bharti Airtel, Vodacom, MTN, Etisalat, Huawei, Nokia-Siemen and Tiggo. The company has offices in six African countries.
Wahome is the man who bought the prestigious Hillcrest group of schools previously owned by the Kenneth Matiba family. Wahome is also key shareholder in leading public relations firm, the Red House Group. Though founded only a year ago, the company is making major waves in the industry with a Sh 2 billion turnover.
Dr Sam Nthenya
The founder of the Nairobi Women’s Hospital is your typical rural boy brought up by a single parent in a dry section of Murang’a County called Gaturi. Nairobi Women’s Hospital has seven branches spread across the country. Dr Nthenya is also a big name in the real estate market. He is key shareholder in Kitisuru Country Homes which leases mansions in the range of quarter million shillings per unit.
Through their company Mobicom, Paul Wanderi and Joel Kibe have made huge bundles of cash from distribution of mobile phone accessories and airtime. With the income earned from the telecom boom, the duo have gone ahead to snap big shareholding in blue chip counters at the country’s stock market.
They are major investors in Housing Finance, Kenya Airways, Olympia Capital, Car and General and CMC motor group. They are the names behind the corporate coup that had owners of old money, Charles Njonjo and Jeremiah Kiereini, eased out of the board of CMC.
Nice&Lovely is a household name in the local beauty industry. But many people hardly know the soft spoken entrepreneur who founded the brand. Like others in the new money club, Kinuthia is a media shy entrepreneur who has succeeded in avoiding the public glare. Beginning with a small shop in city’s Kirinyaga Road, Nice&Lovely is now the region’s giant in beauty and personal care products. Some of the company’s well known brands include Bouncy diapers, All-Tyme sanitary tampons and Golden Shine shoe polish. The People Saturday, June 29, 2013.
This is the name behind Bidco Oil Company. From a small edible oil extraction company, Vimal Shah has transformed Bidco Oil to an African food and detergents giant. Bidco brands include Kimbo and Cowboy cooking fats previously owned by Unilever. Vimal Shah is also one of the investors behind the Sh 300 billion Tatu City project.
He is a big name in university education sector. Until he made his entry, private university education in Kenya was the preserve of religious organisations. Gicharu’s flagship, Mt Kenya University, has its main campus in Thika town and has presence in all major Kenyan towns. Gicharu also owns the biggest university in Rwanda by the same name.
She is quickly following in the footsteps of Gicharu. She will be the first Kenyan woman to own a university once her multi-billion institution at Ongata Rongai is granted a charter. At the moment, she is best known as the proprietor of the Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBS) on Thika superhighway. She is also a major property owner with flats in middle class estates in Nairobi, Kiambu and Thika. She is also putting up a six story hotel complex in in the lush Kileleshwa area.
The Suraya Family
Peter and Susan Muraya is the couple behind property development firm, Suraya. It is this couple who came up with the new fad in town called “gated community estates”. Besides estate development, Suraya also offers management and consultancy services. At the moment, the family is building the Spring Valley Business Park which include six office blocks and a four star hotel.
Lee Karuri’s group
The architect is best known for transforming hitherto low priced land into premium real estate projects across the country. The group which brings together financing guru, Dan Awendo, and real estate project manager Engineer Mbugua Kamau, is behind what has been popularised as golf estates. They include Thika Greens Golf Estate, Iluluwe Golf Estate and the Aberdare Golf Estate.
Karuri’s group is also best known as the avenue for real estate investors in the Diaspora. Karuri is the founding chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and owns an architectural firm, Dimension Architects. His co-investor, Mbugua, owns the firm, Pinnacle Projects, which manages the golf estates. Their partner, Dan Awendo, is the founder of Investeq Capital, a venture capital firm in the real estate sector.