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Peter Wambugu: Entrepreneur Who Grew His Unique Apple Business Into Billions After Rejecting To Sell It For 30 Million

In Summary

  • Mr. Peter Wambugu introduced a new variety of apples that attracted a Caucasian investor who offered him a handsome Ksh. 30 million but Wambugu declined.
  • Wambugu says he is not like the Biblical Esau who betrayed his birthright.

Peter Wambugu, the brains behind Wambugu Apple is a man accredited with introducing a unique apple variety with high demand across the globe. His idea is now worth billions of shillings besides providing generational wealth to his children.

Here is the story as told by WoK:

Foiled military job 

Had he succeeded in his ambition of joining the military, Wambugu Apples wouldn’t be in existence today. The entrepreneur recently opened up of his tough beginnings where he worked at a farm attending to chicken and pigs. His employer had made a promise that he would help him land a military job.

After four years, Wambugu sought to inquire from his employer as he was slowly running out of patience and thought of leaving his place of work.

I had done the work for four years but I couldn’t find help to join the army,” he detailed in a recent interview.

Luckily, he was invited during recruitment and emerged position one on the 8 kilometres run. Wambugu thought his prayers had been answered only for his name to be struck off the recruits’ register on allegations of having fluorosis.

Fluorosis is a condition brought about by ingesting too much fluoride and is usually a hurdle for most people joining the army because it leads to weak bones.

The heart wrenching news to Wambugu meant his ambitions had been crashed.

Working as a mechanic

The entrepreneur later started working as a mechanic in Nyeri town where he married his current wife while aged only 18.

Wambugu with his wife. They have been in marriage for over 45 years. [Photo|Courtesy]
The couple began cultivating coffee on their land only to be frustrated by the then authorities which declined to pay for their produce. Frustrated with this, Wambugu slashed the entire farm and embarked on tree tomatoes and passion fruit farming.

He would sell his produce in Nyeri and Nanyuki until one day he got the idea of cultivating apples.

Wambugu Apples

As a newbie in the cultivation of apples, he realized that there was an insatiable demands for the fruits in Kenya.

As he had heard of apples that were grown in Aberdare Ranges by Mau Mau fighters, he ventured into the forest for exploration. He succeeded in getting the fruits which he used for propagation with apples derived from Israel and South Africa.

This introduced a new unique variety leading to the inception of Wambugu Apples. A research done by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) proved that Wambugu Apples were extraordinary.

It was discovered that my fruits had extraordinary nutrients and were not available anywhere in the world,” he says.

With that, KALRO assisted the Mr. Wambugu in obtaining patent rights for the apples now named after him.

Declining Ksh 30 million offer

With the fruition of his idea, Wambugu story was featured on Daily Nation. In 2001, a potential investor reached out to Wambugu for a meeting at Westgate Mall, Nairobi.

He remembers the meeting being scheduled at 11 a.m before being pushed to 1 p.m. Because of this, Wambugu became suspicious.

The entrepreneur tagged along with his children to Westgate where they met a white man who made an offer of Ksh 30 million to take over Wambugu Apples.

He told me that we should head to a lawyer because he wanted to buy Wambugu Apples for Ksh 30 million,” says Wambugu.

However, Wambugu turned down the handsome offer, much to the disbelief of his children. According to Wambugu, he wasn’t going to sell off his idea just like the Biblical Esau who betrayed his birthright.

He later ensured that his children acquired land to continue with apple farming.

Today, Wambugu Apples is worth billions of shillings with the firm selling seedlings across the African continent. According to Catherine, the daughter to Wambugu, their seedlings accomodate all kinds of climate, are disease resistant and mature within 9 months. They sell each seedling for Ksh 1000.

Catherine says each apple tree can produce upto 500 fruits with each fruit selling upwards of Ksh 30. With the booming business, they export up to 3 containers of apples weekly.

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