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Andrew Muriungi: Entrepreneur Who Ditched Well Paying Job Against Advice Of Family To Found Rhino Mabati 

By Prudence Minayo

Quitting a well paying job to dive headfirst in the unpredictable world of business takes a lot of guts and self-belief. Andrew Muriungi is among the few Kenyans who did just that. He quit a well paying job to the chagrin of his wife as they were a young family with two boys to start Rhino Mabati Factory Limited. His father was enraged, questioning the rationale of walking away from a top job to take a risk in business. 

“My father reacted even worse. He wondered why I was leaving a managerial position in a top media house to venture into the unknown world of entrepreneurship.”

He even sent elders to try and talk him out of the decision. Nonetheless, his mind was made up and he was ready for the next step of his life. As he would later state, being a true entrepreneur is about conquering the fear of the unknown. 

Here is his story as told by WoK

Background and Education

Andrew Muriungi is the second born in a family of four children. He was born in Nairobi but they later relocated to Meru. He attended DEB Primary followed in Meru county. His father worked in the textile industry and they moved a lot, exposing them to different cultures. .

Later, he joined the University of Nairobi where he successfully completed his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Economics. 

Career 

He later pursued the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Course. Lucky enough, he came across a company that was looking for a candidate who had done this specific course. He applied and got the job. 

The starting salary was Sh50,000. The job was good but he got tired of it after a year and a half. He felt he wasn’t growing and decided to quit. The management tried to convince him otherwise but he had made up his mind. 

Also Read: Moses Ikinya Kang’arua: The Man Behind Troubled Royal Mabati Company 

Media House 

A leading media house was advertising for digital business executives, a job he successfully applied for despite having no idea what it entailed. 

The first three months were hectic but once he got the hang of it, things just fell into place. After one and a half years, he was promoted from junior digital business executives and the promotions kept on coming. 

After seven years, he went to another media house and worked as an agency business manager. After a few months, he had the urge to quit employment altogether. In 2015, he resigned and left with nothing but a dream and his savings. 

Inspiration for Rhino Mabati

The idea to form Rhino Mabati company came through a personal experience. Andrew Muriungi faced a number of problems while constructing his family home in Kitengela. The suppliers were a problem and it was hard not being on the ground and knowing how things were bought. 

The hardware merchants also changed prices in their favor, ending up spending more than he bargained for, especially with roofing materials. 

These experiences led to the establishment of Rhino Mabati, an iron sheets and nail manufacturer. 

Starting out 

The beginning was not easy. First, he decided to start the company in Kitengela as he thought it was a strategic location. He borrowed money from friends and family and tried to access bank loans but was turned down by many. Most of the capital came from his pocket and his wife’s resources. They faced challenging times in the beginning until it finally picked up. 

It has been said that Kenyans don’t like Kenyan made goods and at first Muriungi thought this was true. However, he realized Kenyans are after quality products, no matter where they are made. 

Also Read: The Billionaires Who Control Cement Business In Kenya 

Rhino Mabati

By 2018, Rhino Mabati employed at least 15 people including an engineer who managed the manufacturing plant. The company had the capacity to produce 500,000 meters of sheets in a month and owned five trucks. Clients got to choose whatever color pleased them and they manufactured only after orders had been made to minimize wastage. 

Apart from the success of the company in 2018, he also spearheaded another company, after  a deal with Bosch, a German manufacturer, to distribute its building tools in Kenya. As a businessman, he has encountered challenges with one standing out. On one occasion, a truck ferrying their goods was attacked by bandits in Marsabit. Despite the risk, he had to go and negotiate with them. 

Today 

Today, Rhino Mabati products include: Germania tile, Roman Jamii Wide, Espana Tile and Jamii wood effect.

In 2021, the company ventured into Meru by establishing a manufacturing plant there. The managing director said that they had invested Sh50 million to build the plant. 

“The factory has the capacity to churn out 700,000 meters of various profiles, colors and gauges per month. Buyers will have an opportunity to order for customized products informed by the architectural designs of their building projects,” Andrew Muriungi said.

The MD also added that commissioning the plant would lead to the direct employment of fifty people.