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HomeWealthHaji Yassin Jama: The Owner Of The Popular Kilimanjaro Restaurant Chain

Haji Yassin Jama: The Owner Of The Popular Kilimanjaro Restaurant Chain

The hospitality industry is estimated to be worth billions of shillings in the country. In recent years the country has seen a surge of restaurants dotting almost every corner of Nairobi. When you talk about a nice restaurant with mouth watering meals- Kilimanjaro Restaurant comes at the top of the list.

In this article, WoK brings you the story of Haji Yassin Jama – the man who founded the popular Kilimanjaro restaurant chain.

Haji Yassin Jama Journey

Haji Yassin Jama began his business journey in Namanga at the Kenya-Tanzania border where he operated a small regular shop. He mainly sold fast moving commodities such as cooking fat, sugar, salt and flour among many others. The shop would then become successful and with no room for expansion in the area, he decided to relocate to Nairobi.

He moved with his family to the capital city in the early 2000s where he started a wholesale shop and a transport company all under the Kilimanjaro brand name. As fate would have it, his wholesale shop picked up and became a major success working with big brands such as Bidco, East African Company and Unilever as their main distributor of consumer goods such as soap and cooking oil among others.

Joining the Hospitality sector

After the success of his wholesale business and Transport Company, Haji decided to try his luck in the highly competitive hospitality industry. He opened the first restaurant under the brand name ‘Kilimanjaro’ in the Eastleigh area which is largely occupied by the Somali community. The restaurant became quite popular prompting him to open another branch in 2010 at Upper Hill. He then opened the now-famous branch along Kimathi Street in 2016, another along Banda Street and finally another subsidiary in Meru town. 

The Success of Kilimanjaro Restaurant

With four restaurants in Nairobi and one in Meru, Kilimanjaro restaurant has increasingly become a popular joint in Nairobi and its environs. The restaurant, which is mostly frequented by the middle and working class Kenyans, is popular for its sumptuous Somali, Indian, indigenous and continental foods that are available at pocket-friendly prices.

Currently the restaurant has employed over 300 workers and serves over one thousand clients every day. The Kimathi street branch which is the most popular of the four restaurants in Nairobi, is capable of accommodating up to 250 people at any given time.

Death of founder

Mzee Jama passed on early last year leaving the business in the hands of the very able family members. During an exclusive interview with the Business Daily, Yasin who is one of the family members, revealed that the success of the business is courtesy of the values instilled by Mzee Jama.

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“Mzee was a family man. That is why you will find all of us as siblings working together. We manage all the businesses that were left by him as a family. His leadership skills played a critical role in the success. For a long time, he served as the Chairman of the Eastleigh Business Community as well as an elder and opinion leader of the community. His leadership acumen, from business to society, inspired the family. You know Mzee started from zero. He did not inherit any property from his parents. He started from nothing to a big business,” Yasin told BD.

Other interests

Aside from the restaurant, the family owns a number of rental apartments in Namanga, Nairobi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In Parklands, the family owns several blocks under the brand name ‘Kilimanjaro Apartments.’ They also own several properties in Embakasi (Fedha Estate) and along Outer Ring Road in Eastlands, Nairobi. However, the family left the wholesale and transport business (Kilimanjaro Transporters).

Management of the Businesses

During the interview, Yasin revealed that the management of the family business is distributed equally among the siblings and that no one plays a bigger role than another. He also explained that the family doesn’t take loans to expand their business. They majorly use internal resources – taking profit from one investment and investing in another and vice versa. Currently the family is planning on opening new branches of the restaurant in Nairobi as well as joining the coastal market in Mombasa.