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Faces Behind Kenya’s Biggest Malls

By Isaac Blessings

Nairobi is home to some of the biggest and classic malls in East and Central Africa. In almost every neighbourhood in Nairobi, there is a mall or two. Malls in Kenya have become popular in recent years with people visiting these premises to either shop, transact business, enjoy a meal or play fun games among other activities offered. However, unknown to many are the faces behind these fancy malls.

In this article, WoK take a look at the entrepreneurs behind Nairobi’s biggest malls.

Two Rivers Mall

Two Rivers mall is located in Ruaka just a few Kilometers from the leafy suburbs of Runda, Muthaiga and Gigiri. The mall which is the biggest one in East Africa was opened on 14th February 2017. The mall is owned by Two Rivers Lifestyle Company which comprises two shareholders namely; Two Rivers Development Limited and OMP Africa Investment Company each holding a 50% shares in the mall.

The OMP Africa Investment Company is owned by Old Mutual Group while the Two Rivers Development Limited has three shareholders namely; Centum Investment (58%), AVIC International (39%) and ICDC (3%). The late billionaire Chris Kirubi who is the Founder and Director of Centum Investment can be easily considered as the owner of the mall since it is his company that has the largest amount of shares of the mall.

The Village Market

The Village Market is a shopping mall situated in Gigiri along Limuru Road, Nairobi. The mall was founded in 1922 by two Iranian brothers Hamed and Mehraz Ehsani. The two brothers got the idea of setting up the mall one evening as they were driving to a golf course in Muthaiga.

They had a vision of constructing a shopping and recreational facility in the area that was a coffee plantation at that time. Today the mall covers a 700,000 square feet space with more than 250 shops, Carrefour supermarket, a five star hotel, small cafes, banks and health facilities. The mall is currently under the governance of the family and sons of the two brothers.

Garden City Mall

Garden City Mall is a shopping premises located along Thika Super highway off exit 7 and next to the headquarters of East African Breweries Limited. The mall, which is apparently the second largest one in Kenya, was first opened in May 2015. The Multi-million mall is owned by United Kingdom based company Actis Africa.

Actis group was formed in 2004 as a spin out from Commonwealth Development Corporation Group (CDC). Paul Fletcher is the current CEO of Actis group and has been in the helm of leadership since 2015. The mall is home to over 120 local and global brands, fancy restaurants and East Africa’s largest IMAX cinema.

Juja City Mall

The Juja City mall is situated in Juja along Thika Super highway just 27 km from Nairobi City center. The 1.7 billion investment sits in a 10-acre piece of land and a built capacity of 220,000 square feet. The mall is owned by HassConsult limited in partnership with local investors who choose to remain anonymous. It was developed by City Network Holdings and includes a three-star hotel, food courts, ATM lobbies and 750 parking lots for visitors coming to the mall.

Galleria Mall

Situated in the leafy suburbs of Karen, Galleria is a one of a kind modern mall. The mall sits in a 12 acre piece of land and is one of the favorite shopping and entertainment destinations for residents of Karen, Langata and Nairobi West. The Sh2 billion worth mall is owned by businessman Trevor Kanja who also runs a conglomerate of real estate houses known as Nairobi homes group. The mall comprises famous outlets such as Bata, KFC, Artcafe, Java, Carrefour and The Nairobi hospital. The mall was opened in 2009 and has been in operation since then.

Sarit Centre

Sarit Centre is a mall located in the rich suburbs of Westlands Nairobi. The mall was first opened in 1983 and was the biggest mall in Kenya at the time. The mall is owned by Indian Sobhagayachand Vidhu Shah and his friend Maneklal Rughani who were also running the famous Text Book Centre. The two got the idea after visiting the magnificent Brent Cross Shopping Centre in London, United Kingdom. Currently the mall is run by the family with Nitin Shah as the CEO, Atul Shah as the finance manager and Mansur Kasmani as the Operations Manager. The mall has a 300 seater cinema, a four-star hotel and more than 250 local and international retail brands.

Also Read: Largest Shopping Malls in Africa

Westgate Shopping Mall

Westgate Shopping Mall is located in Westlands Nairobi and was established in 2007. The mall became popular when it unfortunately became a tragic scene in 2013 following the Alshabaab terror attack that left 68 people dead and more than 200 injured. The mall was shut down before reopening again on July 18th 2015 after undergoing refurbishment and security being beefed up. The mall is owned by an Israeli based company – Sony Holdings which is owned by Alex Trachtenberg and Vishiali Madan.

The Junction Mall

The junction mall is located at the junction of Naivasha road, Ngong Road and King’ara road. The mall first opened its doors in November 2004 has grown to become one of Kenya’s best malls. It is home to over 100 local and international stores, a three-star hotel and other various social amenities. The mall is owned by London-based private equity firm Actis which also owns the Garden City mall. The Knight Frank Kenya Company is the current managing and marketing company with Andrew Ndegwa as the director of the mall.

The Hub Karen

The hub Karen is a shopping Karen located in the rich neighbourhoods of Karen Nairobi. The 35,000 square feet mall first opened its doors on 14th February 2016 and has been operational since then. It has more than 85 stores including international brands like Java, KFC and LC Waikiki. It has a 1200 capacity parking bays and receives over 55,000 visitors every week. The mall is owned by Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki and managed by Broll Property Group Kenya Limited.

Yaya centre

Yaya centre is a shopping mall situated along Argwings Kodhek Road, Hurlingham, Nairobi. The facility is home to over 100 local and international brands, a five star hotel, ATM lobbies and other recreational and entertainment joints. It is one of the oldest and famous malls in Kenya receiving close to 30,000 visitors every month. The 3 billion worth mall is owned and managed by the family of the late Cabinet Minister Nicholas Biwott.

Business Bay Square (BBS mall)

BBS Mall Eastleigh is set to be opened in early May 2023. The mall boasts 130,000 square metres making it one of the largest malls in East Africa.