James Kagema: Engineer Running Enashipai Resort Following Dad’s Death

50-year-old James Kagema Mwangi is the man at the helm of Enashipai Resort in Naivasha, Nakuru County.

He took over the hotel following the death of his father who also happens to be among the founders of Equity Bank, then known as Equity Building Society.

John Mwangi Kagema died, who was 73, passed away in a Nairobi hospital following a prolonged illness.

Speaking in a recent interview, Kagema said his old man established the hotel immediately after retiring from the banking sector.

Here is his story as told by WoK.

In an interview with Business Daily, Kagema disclosed that his late dad established Enashipai Resort immediately after retiring.

He was among the founders of Equity Bank in the 1980s and until his retirement, he worked in the banking sector.

“He spent all his life there and then when he retired he was like what am I going to do with myself? So he started a business at 60. So his life is actually quite interesting,” Kagema said.

With a lot of time in his hands, Kagema said his dad was determined to venture into business since he already owned the land where Enashipai sits today.

The land had two buildings on it which they renovated and set up a resort, Lake Naivasha Holiday Inn, in 2006.

Come 2010, they developed the entire space and named the new establishment, Enashipai Resort and Spa.

Enashipai is a Maasai word meaning, a place of happiness.

“I don’t think we saw ourselves as going into hospitality. It just happened that there was a need to utilise the land economically and when we started I just found myself in Naivasha four times a week,” he said.

Kagema has a background in engineering having studied in the United States.

Following his return to Kenya, he joined Equity Bank where he worked in the business development and procurement department.

“The bank was at that time constructing quite a number of branches, and ATMs. So that was keeping me busy,” he reflected.

Kagema also spoke on pressure that comes with running hotel especially because he had to deal with a lot of people.

“So it’s one of those industries where you can’t run away from people in whichever shape or form whether it’s stakeholders or customers,” he said.

In a bid to beat failure associated with family businesses, Kagema said he, alongside his siblings and their mother enrolled for a family business course at Strathmore Business School.

“I got my mom and my siblings to register for this course. Those three days were actually quite interesting. Strathmore was also good because it gave us the foundation

“It set us on a path of setting up credible boards. It’s also helped us look at the business holistically, including building on a granite mining business that my dad was passionate about,” he said.

He also noted that they are engage in giving back to the community.

“…like there’s a school, one of the biggest schools in Kenya is actually less than two kilometres from the hotel, it’s called Mirera Primary School

“It has almost 4,000 students. So when my dad, who was a big believer in education died, we started a fund to see kids through school on full scholarships,” Kagema said.

Kagema is a father of two; a 19-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter.