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Nelson Muguku: How Tycoon Built Multi-Billion Empire From Two Hens

Nelson Muguku was one of the wealthiest people in Kenya. He began his entrepreneurial journey with a poultry farm that transformed into an empire, serving major markets in the country.

He also invested in several stocks on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE). Notable was his 6 per cent stake in Equity Bank before its listing on the NSE, making him the majority  individual shareholder at the time.

WoK tells the inspiring tale of how Muguku rose from nothing to own multi-billion properties and investments across the country.

Poultry Farming Journey

In 1957, then aged 24, he was teaching carpentry at Kabianga Teachers’ College (now Kabianga High School). He always had a passion for poultry farming and so, he bought two chicken and a cock, which he reared at the college staff quarters. He would sell his eggs to his colleagues.

One time, the school principal gave him 13 eggs to go and have his chicken lay on them. He promised Muguku that they would split the chicks 50-50. Luckily, all the 13 eggs hatched and they shared the chicks as agreed. After a while, the school principal was transferred and he did not want to move with the chicken. He sold them to Muguku on condition that he continues to supply him with eggs.

He had thought that it would take him at least six months to pay off the 6 hens and 1 cock, the principal had left him, surprisingly even to him, he only took two months. This made him realise that poultry farming could be lucrative.

During this time, he met his wife, Leah Wanjiku who was a teacher at the Kagaa Primary School in Githunguri, Kiambu County.

Muguku later decided to quit his job. The decision to exit formal employment buffled many around him, but he was not determined to stay at a job he was not content with. This marked Mugukus full time entry into poultry farming.

Nelson Muguku: How Tycoon Built Multi-Billion Empire From Two Hens

Journey to success

Muguku settled in his Rukubi home in Kikuyu. At the time, he only had a rickety bicycle and some old furniture.

He only had personal savings of Ksh2500. This was too little to buy more chickens, structures and feeds required to start a successful poultry farm. However, he remained focused and motivated. With the money, he took care of the urgent business needs and soon, he was selling eggs in Nairobi.

He reinvested the profits in his poultry farm, and slowly, his profits began to increase.

In 1963, Wanjiku quit her job as a teacher and went to help her husband in poultry farming.

Multi-billion poultry empire

Muguku had sold eggs in Nairobi for about 10 years when he decided to take his business to the next level. He realised that running a hatchery could be more profitable than selling eggs. He took a loan from Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and bought a 22-acre land at Limuru for Ksh100,000. He also acquired a 9,000-egg incubator with which he started a hatchery. Luckily, the land he bought had good infrastructure including access to electricity and water.

After a while. Muguku was forced to up production due to the increase in demand for eggs in the market. As a result, he acuired more incubators with a capacity of hatching 42,000 eggs in a week.

Currently, Muguku Farm is not only the best poultry farm in Kenya but also the largest with a capacity to hatch more than 200,000 chicks per day. About three quarters of the 22 acres he bought in Limuru are occupied by the poultry farm. He also opened a subsidiary poultry farm in Ngong.

Multi-Billion Empire

Muguku died at the age of 78 in 2010. He was worth an estimated Ksh10 billion.

Form a humble background, he rose to become a 6.08 per cent shareholder of Equity bank by the time it was listed at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE).

He owned a prime property along Nairobi’s Mfangano Street and was the dominant property owner in Kikuyu Town. His family also runs two primary schools; Kikuyu Township and Kidfarmaco and a high school – the former Greenacres School – now renamed Tumaini School.

His family also owns the multi-billion Waterfront Mall located in Karen, Nairobi County. The property is valued at over Ksh20 billion and rests on 50 acres of land.

Nelson Muguku: How Tycoon Built Multi-Billion Empire From Two Hens
Waterfron Mall, Karen/ Courtesy