By Kuria Kimani
It takes a few trials, missteps, perseverance and consistency before one gets something right. Dr. Gakombe Kanyenje made several attempts in his career before he got the one thing that would not only fulfil his ambitions but also become the source of his success.
WoK looks into his profile and journey to founding Metropolitan Hospital, a successful hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
A Brief History on Dr. Gakombe
Dr. Kanyenje Karangaita Gakombe was born in Murang’a County as a sixth-born child in his family. He was born on 16th June according to a celebratory Facebook post from his hospital staff sending him birthday wishes. In a past interview, he revealed that he had begun trading in chicken and goats before joining high school.
He is an alumnus of Mang’u High School where he recalls being a good student in English and Biology which informed his University degree options. Talking to Dr. Mercy Korir, he said that he initially thought he would pursue writing since he had a liking for Shakespeare and also considered a career in Law. Being a top Biology student in high school, set the Medicine path for the young man who had a passion for business. After his A-levels, he joined the University of Nairobi for his undergraduate degree graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB). He then enrolled for his Masters in Business Administration in Strategic Management in the same institution.
Prior to joining high school, he had explored several business ventures including trading in chicken and goats in Murang’a. In high school, he tried out growing and selling beans to support the scouts’ movement he was a part of. His entrepreneurship spirit drove him into vending bread during his A-Levels and later on went into riskier ventures. Dr. Gikonyo went into stocks trading at the Nairobi Stock Exchange, did construction-equipment renting, and then tried out the matatu business which he said failed. His interest in the stock market was triggered by a neighbor at home who became the chair of the Stock Exchange who guided him until he was hired by a stock brokerage firm that trained him as a broker.
Commenting on his entrepreneurial spirit, he says that he knew very early in life that his parents could not provide him the kind of life he wanted, and with his father’s retirement, he knew that he would need to take up the mantle to educate his siblings. In his A-Levels, he was paying his own school fees, educating his siblings, and by his fourth year, he tied the knot having established his footing.
Founding the Metropolitan Hospitals Limited
The hospital was built to sort out the needs of the middle class in Kenya – clients who needed an institution in between Nairobi Hospital and the Kenyatta National Hospital in terms of service quality and cost implications. This was the basis of the Metropolitan Hospital founded by a group of healthcare professionals including Dr. Gikombe in 1995. They believed in the provision of quality, cost-effective, and affordable healthcare services to Kenyans. With this, the institution offers a very competitive fee structure compared to other medical institutions in the same line of service delivery.
The institution was an idea conceptualized by young people whose credibility might have been questioned on grounds of their age. He alongside his medical school discussion group members looked for older people who believed in their idea and had them on board. The older and credible board directors supported the cause of the young vision bearers supporting their capital sourcing.
Dr. Gakombe Kanyenje said that from his stock brokerage experience, they were able to source contributions that enabled them to set up the institution. The hospital’s first share offer on the NSE was well addressed hiring consultants and having Deloitte become the hospital’s accountants to source for projections. The hospital is a member of the Evercare Group along with The Ladnan Hospital, Nairobi Women’s Hospital, and The Avenue Group of Hospitals. The Evercare Group also has tentacle members in Nigeria, Pakistan, and India. Metropolitan Hospital currently has a 250-member staff capacity, over 150 doctors, and consultants on contract.
An Exemplary Institution
Metropolitan Hospital embraces digital solutions when it comes to handling business matters and client concerns. All its systems are integrated following an identified need to increase business efficiency. Patients numbers were growing although the losses incurred were paradoxically increasing. Dr. Gikombe, the Group CEO was advised that this was a system problem that would be fixed by obtaining a central control IT system. He then implemented a paperless system that included a dashboard for him to see all hospital operations transparently which translated to improved business delivery and curbing of operational leaks.
Additional Responsibilities and Industry Contributions
Dr. Gakombe Kanyenje is a board member at MedSource and a Director and Systems Architect at Alliance Management Systems. In 2006, he was an instrumental figure in the initiation and development of a Standard Service Agreement and Claim form between the Association of Kenya Insurers and the Kenya Association of Hospitals which was adopted in October 2006. He additionally helped in the design and development of a Hospital Management Software known as AMS 2000 that has been adopted in several hospitals. This was a system that he implemented at Metropolitan Hospital solving the problem of lack of visibility and transparency in processes and operations.
He married in his fourth year of higher education taking home a Vet Student. The couple was blessed with a son, named Martin, who is autistic and thus presented a new point of concern for the couple who needed to plan for his care. This has also informed his concerns in his career as he seeks to make the country a place where even autistic individuals can fend for themselves. He highlighted in a past interview that there are several challenges that come with taking care of a child with special needs. These include the need to seek special schools and special transportation arrangements.
Dr. Gakombe Kanyenje advising those seeking to venture into business says, “It takes 10 years for a company to be discovered, and it is not just business. By the time you are recognized as a professional usually, there is a 10-year period of effort, work, and gaining experience before the world discovers you. There are no get-rich-quick options, you have to put in the effort.”