Leon Ndubai: Owners Of Sandalwood Hotel Kitengela, Taking Charge Of Family Multi-Billion Business Empire At 21 Years

By Prudence Minayo

Apart from having a foothold in the financial world, Leon Ndubai is also the head of a thriving hospitality industry. The businessman got his first taste of work when he was tasked with sorting out gemstones by his father. His salary was Sh10,000. He learnt a lot from his father’s business acumen and when he passed away, Leon took over the reins and spearheaded the continued growth of the business. His father was Benjamin Ndubai, the founder of Democratic Party. 

Here is the story of Leon Ndubai as told by WoK


The entrepreneur took control of his family business at the age of 21 after the death of his parents. He was in Germany studying gemology at the time. The family investments ranged from hotels, a micro-finance firm and a gemstone export business.

“I came and found business was suffering. In the absence of both our parents, the vision was lost. The drive in many ways was also lost. The team was filling a very big vacuum. It was up to me and Richard (Ndubai ‘s brother) to step in. We started with reorganising the hotel business,” he told howwemadeitinafrica.com in 2013.

Sandalwood Hotels and Resorts

The hotels owned by the family include the 20 room luxury Golden Beach Resort and  Sandalwood Hotel Kitengela. According to the online news outlet, he was in the process of building a 55 room Sandalwood Elementaita Lodge at a cost KSh500 million. He also invested in Sandalwood Villas in Nairobi were he reportedly invested more than Sh1 billion in the project. 


He runs Indo-Africa Micro Finance which was founded in the 80s by his late father with the aim of catering for the needs of low income earners in urban, rural and marginalised parts of Kenya. Today, the financial institution has been able to provide funding to hundreds of small and medium sized enterprises. 

In a past interview, he believed that he has succeeded in business because he is focused, driven and a team player. 

“I am not lazy. I am up at 5:30am every day and start work by around 6:45am. I work all the way to 10pm, even 11pm. Actually, it’s the best time because at 11pm I have all the reports from our hotels, so I have time to go through all the reports….,” he said during a 2013 interview.


Ndubai previously ran for the Tigania West parliamentary seat as an independent candidate. He came in fourth managing to garner 4,707 votes. It was Dr. John K. Mutunga of the Jubilee party who carried the day. He was later appointed to the Miraa Taskforce Implementation Committee.