Rags To Riches: From Chicken Sellers To Billionaires

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Rags To Riches: From Chicken Sellers To Billionaires
Photocredit/Courtesy

By Prudence Minayo

Poultry farming in Kenya works for some while others end up making huge losses. Kenya President William Ruto has time and again shared how he sold chickens by the roadside and ended up becoming a billionaire. But he is not the only one who has made a fortune out of poultry farming.

WoK has listed four billionaires who trace their wealth from ‘chickens’.

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President Dr. William Ruto 

The story of President Dr. William Ruto is one that has been told with the aim of inspiring his followers. He started off hawking chicken in Eldoret before going into the murky world of politics where he has thrived. It is no surprise then that he chose to get into the poultry business. He revealed that he makes Sh1.5 million a day through the sale of eggs from his Sh200,000 chicken. 

Thuo Mathenge 

Having grown up in a humble background, he worked hard to become a notable businessman and now a politician. He conducted market research, sold his rentals and began the business, naming it Brade Gate. The business was built according to international standards and became one of the largest in East and Central Africa with the capacity to hatch 160,000 chicks a week in two sessions. 

However, the businessman would be plagued with financial woes which made him susceptible to auctioneers. 

Nelson Muguku 

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Nelson Muguku’s success business story is one that is very inspiring. Muguku started his career working as a teacher of carpentry at Kapenguria Intermediate School before moving to Kabianga Teachers College. In 1957, he quit his job to concentrate on his poultry business which he had started the previous year. His parents were against the idea but that did not stop him from chasing his dream. At the time, he had two hens, a cock and about Sh200. 

He put effort into the business and in 1963 was joined by his wife, who also quit her teaching job. Two years later, he bought a 22-acre piece of land and called it Muguku poultry farm. He started a hatchery and his farm became so Successful that at some time he supplied eggs to governor general Malcolm MacDonald and Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta. 

He went on to invest in real estate and built primary schools among other philanthropic works. 

By the time he passed away in 2010, the businessman’s empire was worth billions. 

Geoffrey Kago 

Geoffrey Kago began selling chicken while in primary school. He reared over 100 chickens which he sold in order to pay his way through school. His motivation to get into the poultry business was the inspiring story of Muguku. While in school, he developed an incubator that won the 1985 high school science congress at the District level and it came second nationally. He then faced a setback when a neighbour poisoned his brood.

In 1997, he moved to Kiserian and took up various jobs. First, as a stone mason, then apprentice carpenter and a job at the funeral home. He then became a cigarette hawker and used money from it to develop his first commercial incubator. This is how Kaki Village Enterprise was born. He went from making incubators, to developing candlers which test fertility of eggs. 

He expanded his hatchery business and began offering training to farmers who wanted to get into poultry. Today, he also rears other birds, like, guinea fowls, ostriches, ducks and quails. According to Startup Daily, his business was estimated at $100,000.

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