By Isaac Blessings
In Kenya, success is mostly associated with individuals who have seriously chewed books like lawyers, engineers and doctors. In fact, without a university degree you will have to work double hard to succeed. However, there is a set of Kenyans who have joined the billionaires’ club without possessing even a high school certificate.
In this article, WoK has listed some of the Kenyan billionaires who never studied past primary school.
DON'T MISS: Stay informed with the latest news and interact with us on Instagram.
Andrew Ngirici is the husband to Kirinyaga county Women Representative Purity Wangui Ngirici. The billionaire known for his love of fancy cars, dropped out of Kirigo primary school at class four. He then became a donkey cart driver for his neighbour, Mzee Arthur Munyi in Kaitheri, Kirinyaga County. His mother later bought him his own cart that he used to supply crates of beers to different local bars in his village.
He later luckily met the late James Kanyotu who was then a Chief-spy in Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s government and later served as National Intelligence Service (NIS) boss in the President Arap Moi. It was during that time that Andrew was appointed as Kanyotu’s personal assistant. Using his newly found networks and savings, Andrew ventured into the transport business, investing in matatus and buses. He later found new interests in the real estate industry, media, mining and large scale farming. He is the founder and owner of Mt Kenya TV and Iganjo FM.
Narendra Raval is a Kenyan industrialist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. The 60 year old popularly referred to as ‘Guru’ is the Executive Chairman of the Devki Group of Companies – a conglomerate company in East Africa that manufactures steel, aluminum and cement. He was born in 1962 in India and became a priest at the temple of the Brahmin Hindu at 10 years. He never attended school apart from the little religious teachings conducted in the temple.
JOIN US: Stay informed with the latest Kenyan news and join the conversation on Telegram.
He later relocated to Kenya as a teenager and moved to Kisumu where he became an assistant priest at one of the temples later. He however abandoned his priesthood duties in 1986, married a Kenyan wife and ventured into business by starting his first hardware store in Gikomba market, Nairobi. He then slowly grew his business and it is the manufacturing zeal that propelled him to start Devki group. The billionaire has built a successful company with subsidiaries in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He currently employs over 6,500 employees and has a net worth of US$500 million. His companies include; Devki Steel Mills Limited, Maisha Mabati Mills Limited, National Cement Company Limited, Maisha Packaging Company Limited, Northwood Aviation and Simba Cement Uganda Limited.
Mzee Jackson Kibor
Mzee Jackson Kibor is an Eldoret-based billionaire who invested heavily in the large-scale farming business. The 87 year old dropped out of school in class five after the school declined his offer of supplying firewood as school fees and insisted on money which he didn’t have at that point in time. He started doing menial jobs at a tanning facility in Nandi before becoming a driver transporting maize and potatoes for the late Jonathan Kibogy. He convinced Kibogy to allow him to carry an extra 5 bags of potatoes to a trip to Uganda from which he would make 10 shillings profit for every bag.
After years of doing the job he bought his own lorry and hired someone else to do the job for him. He later joined the Kenya Police where he participated in Darts competition emerging the best player in East Africa. The award came with a car and a total prize of Ksh 35,000. He acquired a Ksh 55,000 loan from a local bank from which he added up to his money and bought his first 836 acres of land. He planted maize in the land and practiced dairy farming therein making more money as profits. He continued acquiring vast pieces of land from the white settlers who were going back to their countries at relatively cheap prices. The billionaire currently owns 836 acres of land in Kipkabus, 357 acres in Moiben, 1,543 acres in Kabenes and 1,160 acres in Kitale among other properties.
Gerald Gikonyo Kanyuira
Mzee Gerald Gikonyo is a renowned businessman in Nairobi. The 106 year old never attended primary school and started out as a worker at a coffee plantation in Rwathia Village, Murang’a County. He later moved to Nairobi city as a teenager where he would buy vegetables at Marikiti market and hawk them door to door to the City’s residents who were mainly Indians. His fellow neighbors from Rwathia Village joined him in the city and they started a savings group. During the time of Mau Mau rebellion, Indians began fleeing the country and the group led by Mzee Gerald would buy the shops through their savings.
They bought a lot of buildings and after Kenya gained independence in 1963, they began developing the properties. The billionaire currently owns Alfa Hotel on Ronald Ngala Street, Magomano, New Kinangop and Timboroa hotels. He is also the founder and Executive Chairman of Rwathia Distributors. He has heavily invested in real estate as well as large scale farming. In 2017, he was awarded the Key of the City award by the then Governor of Nairobi Evans Kidero for his outstanding contribution to the development of Nairobi City.