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CEOs Of Successful Companies In Kenya Who Don’t Have University Degrees 

  • We take a look at CEOs of successful companies in Kenya who don’t have University degrees
  • A number of blue chip companies have executives who don’t have degrees

While pursuing a university degree opens one to a world of opportunities, others learn how to make a living through the college of life. There are dozens of successful CEOs, who went on to become heads of successful companies without college degrees.

The late Bob Collymore steered Safaricom PLC to profitability and unprecedented growth despite having a diploma. This goes to show that while education is very important, a determination to succeed is a big bonus.

WoK has listed some of these powerful CEOs.  

CEOs Of Successful Companies In Kenya Who Don't Have University Degrees 
Narendra Raval  Photocredit/Courtesy

Narendra Raval 

Born in 1962 in India, Narendra Raval hailed from a very humble background. He could not afford to attend college or university due to his poor family background. At the age of 11, he became a priest at a Hindu temple before moving to Kenya.

He continued with his priesthood at the shores of Lake Victoria before quitting, getting married and starting a business in Gikomba that grew into a conglomerate, now known as Devki Group of Companies.

Today, he serves as the chairman of the conglomerate which is spread across East Africa and manufactures cement, aluminium and steel, and is also into the world of aviation. 

Companies under Devki group include: National Cement Company Limited, Maisha Mabati Mills, and Northwood Aviation. Narendra’s company employs thousands of people and he is valued at billions of Kenyan Shillings. In the 2015 Forbes ranking, he was named the 2nd richest in Kenya and he has pledged to leave half of his wealth to charity. 

CEOs Of Successful Companies In Kenya Who Don't Have University Degrees 

Ronald Karauri 

He was elected the Member of Parliament for Kasarani in the August 2022 elections. He had served as the Chief Executive Officer of Sportpesa, taking over from the founder Nikolov. 

Karauri dropped out from university where he was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering to join Kenya Airways. He worked for the national carrier as a pilot then a captain. Leaving the airline, he went on to become the CEO of Sportpesa, turning it into a multi billion betting firm.

In a previous interview, he revealed his regret for not finishing his degree. He said his advice to pilots would be that they successfully pursued their education. 

Rajiv Mehta

He is the founder and Managing Director of Tangerine Investments, a company worth more than Sh100 million Shillings. He dropped out of university following the death of his father and joined the family business.

Due to disagreements, he was kicked out of the business with an uncle daring him to venture out on his own and see whether he would not go back to the family.

Taking up the challenge, he founded Tangerine Investments after quitting his day job in 2008. This is an outdoor advertising firm which he still heads and has grown to have high profile clients including KQ, Subway and Coca Cola. 

CEOs Of Successful Companies In Kenya Who Don't Have University Degrees 

Leah Wambui 

She is the CEO of Cherlez Properties Limited. She did not pursue university education as she lost her mother at the age of 16 and went to live with her aunt.

Leah Wambui worked at her aunt’s shop and went on to ask her for money to start a wines and spirits business in Nairobi. However, her aunt gave her enough to start one in Kiambu. 

She did her business diligently, saved up and in 2009 bought 8 acres of land in Kitengela. This was how Cherlez Properties Ltd was founded and in 2015, she had built and was selling houses at Sh17 million each.


Bharat Thakrar

He is the founder of WPP Scangroup where he served as CEO until his unceremonious exit under a cloud of scandal in 2021.

While his father wanted him to become a medical doctor, he got into the world of advertising soon after high school, working in the same agency as his father.

He was among the team that marketed products like Blue Band and Royco upon their introduction into the market. Later, he went out on his own and founded Scangroup which grew to be a reputable multi million marketing and advertising firm known for popular advertisements like Niko na Safaricom and Story Ibambe.

The company’s majority shares were bought hence the change to WPP Scangroup. 

While he started straight out of high school, he took a course at Harvard Business School much later.

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