Powerful Individuals Who Never Went Past Primary School And Became Movers And Shakers In Kenya

By Prudence Minayo

A section of Kenyans have become influential despite their limited education. While education is very important for a well rounded individual, it is not a prerequisite to succeed. WoK has listed Kenyans who went on to be powerful in the political and business front despite not stepping in high school. 

Powerful Individuals Who Never Went Past Primary School And Went On To Be Movers And Shakers In Kenya
Samwel Ngetich Photocredit/Courtesy

Samwel Ngetich 

The late Samwel Ngetich was forced to drop out of school in Class 3. He ended up doing a number of menial jobs including digging pit latrines, weeding people’s farms and being a chicken broker on market days. His lack of academic qualifications did not stop him from venturing into business and establishing a number of companies which he would manage under Kipchimchim Group. His empire consisted of supermarkets and tea factories among others. He was also affiliated with powerful politicians and was a Member of County Assembly for Kapkugerwet ward. 

Powerful Individuals Who Never Went Past Primary School And Went On To Be Movers And Shakers In Kenya
Njenga Karume Photocredit/Courtesy

Njenga Karume 

By the time of his death, he was one of the wealthiest people in Kenya. Born in Lord Delameres farm, he had to travel far to access a school designated for black people. He did not proceed to high school but instead worked as a clerk. Later, he eked a living through selling charcoal. Nonetheless, he grew to be one of Kenya’s most powerful businessmen and politicians. 

Ibrahim Ambwere
Ibrahim Ambwere Photocredit/TheStandard

Ibrahim Ambwere

He gained famed when he offered to pay teachers delayed salaries during the Moi Government. Ibrahim Ambwere‘s father was recruited to the British army during the second world war and never returned home. His mother died when he was eight and together with his siblings, they ended up with their maternal grandmother. 

Despite his lack of education, he went on to become one of the richest people in Western Kenya. His business interests spread across different parts including Mbale, Kakamega, Kisumu and Nairobi. Later in life, he got the chance to get reunited with his father. 

Gerald Gikonyo 

Loosing his parents at an early age, meant that Gikonyo had no hope of attending school. He began working at a very young age and eventually moved to Nairobi. He worked as a casual laborer then as a hawker, before he ended up establishing a successful business empire. He took advantage when the whites were selling their properties at a throwaway price and in partnership with friends bought buildings in Nairobi. 

He went on to found Rwathia Distributors. Gikonyo was among the first Kenyans to own a car and in 2017 he was handed the keys to Nairobi by outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta and former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero. 

Narendra Raval

He is the chairman of Devki group of companies. Born in India, Narendra Raval came to Kenya as a priest . He would set up a business in Gikomba which would grow into the modern day Devki. Not only is he influential in the world of business, but he is also a known philanthropist who has given to various charities. In the wake of Covid-19, he promised to donate Sh100 million to government hospitals. He promised to supply oxygen through the Devki Steel mill factories in Mombasa, Athi River and Ruiru. 

“I believe that wealth should be considered as a trust of the whole society and trustees, individuals should use it for the benefit of the society,” he once said. 

The billionaire was not able to attend school due to his poor background. 

Jackson Kibor 

The late Jackson Kibor was a wealthy land owner with several hundreds of acres to his name. He grew to be one of the most influential people in Uasin Gishu and also served as the chairman of KANU. Born in 1934, he only attended school up to class five. He would take firewood and poles to school as his school fees but when the school wanted money, he was forced to drop out.

Gerishon Kirima

Gerishon Kirima was born during the colonial era and had to drop out of school. He later moved to Nairobi where he proceeded to establish a carpentry business. He then established butcheries and bars targeting Africans who had money after independence. As the white men left the country, he ventured heavily into real estate and began purchasing large tracts of land. At first, he bought five hundred acres then he continued to buy more land. 

Gerishon also became powerful politically and was elected Starehe MP on a KANU ticket in the late 80s. Even after losing his seat later, his wealth grew and it was reported than in 2005 his rental properties brought in monthly income of Sh20 million. He passed away in December 2010.

Kapseret Member of Parliament Oscar Sudi at Nakuru court on September 23, 2020. PHOTO/Daily Nation

Oscar Sudi 

While the Kapseret MP, Oscar Sudi says he went to school, it has been the subject of debate in many platforms. He was even charged in court for forging his academic credentials. It was also reported that the index number on his certificates belong to another students. Reports indicate he dropped out of primary school. Despite the controversy surrounding his education, the parliamentarian still remains a very influential figure in his home tuff. 

Stivo Simple Boy 

Stivo Simple Boy’s song Mihadarati brought him a lot of fame. Prior to this, he was living in dilapidated conditions in Kibera. He moved to Kibera slums from his home in Nyanza in class seven. He then proceeded to do his KCPE in Nairobi before beginning to eke out a living through casual jobs in the city. 

Today, his story serves as inspiration of how talent could change the course of one’s life. 


Bonoko began life in the streets after his father kicked out the family from his house. His life changed when he saw a fellow street person killed by the police and narrated the story. How he narrated the story drew the attention of many and he eventually found himself giving his tale at Ghetto radio. He would then be employed as a presenter for the station.