Kenyan Employees Who Went On To Own Companies They Worked For 

Kenyan Employees Who Went On To Own Companies They Worked For 

By Prudence Minayo

Life is an interesting journey with its fair share of ups and downs. With the right attitude, those at the very bottom of the food chain find themselves calling the shots in blue chip companies. It takes the right attitude, patience and genius to rise to the top. 

WoK brings you individuals who went on to buy the companies that had employed them. 

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Carole Mandi 

True Love is one of the most popular magazines in East Africa targeting women between the ages of 25 and 35. She worked for a number of publications before joining Media24, then owned by South African media company Naspers which published True Love, Drum and Move magazines. Carole Mandi was an editor at Media24 when the publishers closed shop. She seized the opportunity and successfully bid for the magazine franchises taking over as publisher of True Love and Drum. Together with her husband, they established Carole Mandi Media Limited (CMML) after acquiring the publishing license in 2010. True Love and Drum East Africa were launched in 200 and January 2011 respectively. 

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David Muita 

Currently in his early 70s, Muita began working at Macmillan Publishers (now known as Moran Publishers) as a salesperson in April 1984. 

In 1987, he became general manager of the company and three years later was promoted to managing director. Under his leadership, the organization experienced significant growth not just in Kenya but across East Africa. He became a big part of the firm and in 2009 began making plans to buy Macmillan Publishers Kenya. In 2010, his stake increased from 5% to 97% giving him control of the company. He began making decisions on his own independent of the previous British owners. The name changed from Macmillan to Moran Publishers.

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He says owning the sole proprietor of one of the largest publishing firms in Kenya and the region has given him the freedom to make his own decisions. This has boosted the business which employs more than 70 people in Kenya, 15 in Uganda and 4 in Rwanda. They are also expanding their reach to Malawi and Zambia. He says this wouldn’t have been possible without being independent from Macmillan UK. 

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“Stop making attempts to climb the tree from the top, start from the bottom. I drive what people call a big car. But that is not what I had, say 27 years ago”, he told BiznaKenya in a 2015 interview. 

Chris Kirubi 

The late Chris Kirubi was a business mogul who left a lasting footprint in the country. The industrialist had a number of businesses ranging from real estate to media. 

Born and raised in a poor family, he had to work during school holidays to earn a living. He worked as a gas salesman for a while before finding his niche in real estate. He once narrated that at one point he worked for International House Limited (an insurance company) as a salesman. Later, he would purchase their Headquarters.

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“I used to sell policies and when they decided to close down their offices in Kenya, they offered me the opportunity to buy the business and supported me in talking to the banks and off we went,” he said. 

James Mwangi

The name James Mwangi is synonymous to Equity bank. He is the man credited with transforming the bank into what it is today. 

The chief executive officer (CEO) of Equity Bank became the first person from his village to acquire a university degree back then. At 28, he had risen to become group financial controller of Trade Bank Group. With such brilliance and success, it is no surprise he was employed by Equity bank. He first began working as the director of Strategy for Equity. Today, he has risen from a mere employee to the CEO. 

While he doesn’t own the bank, he is the largest individual shareholder with over 120 million shares.

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