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Juma ‘Jay’ Khamis Mohammed: From Hawking Mitumba To Becoming One Of The Richest Men In Kenya

Juma ‘Jay’ Khamis Mohammed is a man who had a dream and despite all odds stacked against him, he never gave up and now lives the life only a few Kenyans can afford. From the streets of Nairobi hawking second-hand clothes to sitting in the corner office and calling the shots in a multi-million-making conglomerate, here is his inspiring profile as told by WoK.

Background and Education

Juma grew up in hardship, so much so that in Form 2, he had to drop out of school because his parents could not afford to pay his school fees. Armed with nothing but hope for a brighter future, the teenager went into the streets of Nairobi and began hawking clothes for a living.

Hawking Business

The streets were unforgiving, especially for a young man. The county council enforcement officer alias ‘kanjo’ were constantly on their radar and thus one had to be quick in spotting them and scurrying away with their goods lest they part with some of their hard-earned money, get a beating, or be locked up. 

Also Read: Madatally Manji Biography: From Hawking In Karatina To Owning House Of Manji

Reminiscing about his time on the streets, Juma says; “You wouldn’t know what hardships are until you’ve lived the life of a hawker. But I thank God because that job gave me a ‘street degree’, which is much more valuable than any formal education I’ve ever received.”

He however retained his lessons such as identifying a serious client and being a witty businessman which has contributed to his success today. 

Venture into Business

Juma Khamis had a burning desire to one day own his own business and live a good life. He just did not know how big it would turn out yet.

With zero capital, he set out to explore a business venture in event planning. In a past interview on Capital Fm, he described his simple starting model saying, 

“My job was to identify people who needed to hold an event and had no idea on how to do it. I would then come in by planning and supplying them with the necessary equipment.” 

This was the birth of an events and marketing company that has expanded to operate under three branches.

Juma says it was not all a bed of roses and that he figured it all out in one instant. However, with the support of friends in the business, he began improving.

In an interview, he commented on this saying, “The early days were difficult because this was something I had never done before. However, I had friends who were in the business who guided me.”

Parrot Group and Breakthrough

A few months into the business, he officially registered as a company under the name Parrot Group.

The company was in the business of event planning and marketing on a larger scale. His first big break as a company came when Parrot Group was contracted by Orange Telkom to promote their ‘kaduda’ mobile phones.

This was a milestone for the company as business began trickling in. Some of his earliest clients were Stanbic Bank and Airtel Kenya that were seeking branding services. 

Parrot Group is today a conglomerate consisting of Parrot Universal Sounds, Parrot Concepts Limited, and Parrot Eye Marketing.

All the three are incorporated, regulated, and registered in the industry by relevant bodies such as Events Managers Association of Kenya (EMAK), Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRSK), and National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).

The company records an annual turnover of Ksh 70,000,000 and owns assets worth more than Ksh 40,000,000. This is because the company works with businesses of various sizes and some of its clients include Lenovo, John Deere, 98.4 Capital FM, Multichoice, M-Kopa, and CMC Motors. 

The company with more than twenty employees today has broadened its services into the digital space. These services provided include:

SEO Management

Advertisement Ideas


Web Development

Internet Marketing

Below-the-line Marketing

Experiential Marketing


Landmark Projects

Juma recalls his experience being contracted to work for President Uhuru Kenyatta in branding his campaign vehicles.

An excited Juma said in an interview, “For a former hawker, that was really a great moment. We went to the State House to do the impromptu job that required perfection. It was quite a scene; doing what we do in the company of State House security.”

His company also worked with several other politicians during the 2013 campaign season such as Narok Governor Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai, Isiolo Governor Godana Doyo, Nairobi Women’s Representative Rachael Shebesh, MPs, and other MCAs.

Business Challenges

The waves have however not failed to rock the boat. In December 2014, Juma Khamis made his biggest loss yet after a planned event did not go as planned.

The entrepreneur had invested approximately Ksh 4,000,000 into planning a New Year’s Eve party in Nakuru that would have A-list entertainers such as Wyre, Jua Kali, Jaguar, comedians, and popular DJs grace the occasion.

The turnout was extremely low and in one night made a Ksh 3.9 million loss, a deep hole in his pockets.  

Another challenge came by working with Barclays Kenya that had contracted his services for Karaoke entertainment. Juma did not know exactly what was required of him. He humorously recalls this moment saying, “To my embarrassment, I took a TV screen and a guitar!” 

Success Tips

From grass to grace, rags to riches, Juma Khamis is a man to admire. He shares some of his success tips for individuals seeking to go in his path below:

“I don’t know how to give up. Failure to me is not the end, it’s just a signal that I need to improve or do something differently.”

“If you cannot deliver a product or a service within a particular timeline, do not lie to your client. Tell them the truth. A majority of business people lie because they want to maximize their profits but do not care about the services they offer.”

“Good reputation will give you repeat customers and referrals, which is what you really need.”