The story of Esther Muchemi best exemplifies that your background is not the definition of your destiny. Her illustrious career and taking that bold step to start her own venture away from formal employment is worth emulating.
Here is the story of Esther Muchemi-one of the few women billionaires in Kenya-as told by WoK.
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Esther Muchemi was born and raised in Othaya constituency, Nyeri County. She is the firstborn in a family of nine siblings. Her father, Moses Macharia, was a teacher while her mother did menial jobs to make that extra coin.
In Primary School, Muchemi wasn’t performing well but her father did all he could until she was accepted at Kamahuha Girls Secondary school after completing her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). In high school, she worked hard and ended up scoring an A in her final Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.
She joined the University of Nairobi where she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree (B-COM). She would later become a Certified Public Accountant of Kenya (CPA –K) with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya.
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After completing her university education, Muchemi was employed as an auditor in different companies including Bellhouse Mwangi (now Ernst & Young) between 1984 to 1988 and PKF Kenya as a salaried partner between 1989 to 1996. In 2000, Muchei quit her job after 16 years of being employed and opted to join the business world.
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She would then establish Esther Muchemi and Company Auditors – an audit and consulting firm based in Nairobi. She would later establish Samchi Telecommunications Limited where she serves as founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Samchi Telecommunications Limited was the first M-Pesa dealer when the mobile-money platform was first introduced in the country and holds the till number 0001. In 2009, she was honored by Safaricom as the top Mpesa agent in the country.
In an interview on Businessdaily, she told Muthoki Mumo that she had no idea where “this thing was going” when she became a Safaricom dealer.
“I was the first dealer to roll it out in all my shops. I didn’t know where this thing was going. I didn’t understand it. But I told my people: “We’re going.”
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She would later establish Samchi Group of Companies – a conglomerate with interests in real estate, hospitality and tourism, micro-finance and in the insurance sector. In the telecommunications sector, the group owns Samchi Telecommunications Limited, Jumbo Communications Limited, Forward Airtime Limited and Mergut Limited.
Other companies under the group include Samchi Credit Limited – a microfinance company and Samchi Heights Limited – a real estate development company. She also owns After 40 hotel Limited situated along Biashara Street in Nairobi CBD, El-Roi Plaza – a shopping tower located along Tom Mboya Street, Heavenly Wings Limited – a restaurant within El-Roi plaza and Space International Limited – a virtual office company.
She has also received many international recognitions and awards including the 2017 Global Inspirational Women Leadership Award issued by the Center for Economic and Leadership Development.
The award ceremony was held at the 2017 South America – Africa –Middle East – Asia Women Summit held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In the same year, she was inducted into Amazon’s 100 Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame becoming the first woman to get the prestigious accolade.
The billionaire was married to Kenya’s chief of military intelligence Gerald Muchemi. Her husband passed away in March 2007 in the United Kingdom after a short illness. The couple were blessed with two children.
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