By Prudence Minayo
“ A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat determination and hard work” Colin Powell.
Simon Kabu is probably known to many in Kenya as a successful entrepreneur who enjoys a luxurious life. What many don’t know is that it took a lot of hard work and determination to get to where he is today. He lives a life that many would wish to have and his company has established itself as one of the leading tour companies in Kenya. This is a man who came from very humble beginnings but did not let his past define him.
While speaking to Tuko he advised upcoming entrepreneurs to be patient with their start-ups as success is not a one time event.
He was born in 1975. This year (2021) he turned 46 years.
Simon completed his high school in the early 90s, he worked at his aunt’s kiosk selling mandazi and chapati. He then joined Egerton University to pursue a Bachelors Degree in Economics and Statistics. Unfortunately, in the middle of his course, his parents were unable to pay his college fees. He had two options, drop out or find a way to raise money then go back. The then young Kabu got a job as a tout working the Githurai 44 route. He quit after making some money and went back to university where he sold CDs to make ends meet. The first job he got after completing university was as a turn-boy loading and unloading milk. (source: Daily Nation).
The successful entrepreneur was the sales regional head of Unga Group Ltd. It was around this time that he got the idea to start a tours company.
Back in 2007, there was no WhatsApp so what they had were google groups. The group chose him to coordinate a trip to celebrate the end of the year. He was chosen to do this alongside Sara Kabu and a few others and the event was a success. In 2008, they were asked to coordinate another trip and after successfully doing it, time came to receive payment. They thought they would be paid via Mpesa but instead they were asked for their company name so that cheque could be written. Sitting around a bonfire at the Maasai Mara, the name Bonfire Adventures was born.
Little by little, they began to establish themselves as a tour company and signed in clients. They quit their jobs to concentrate on the company full time and worked tirelessly. He revealed in an interview that at times they worked till 6 in the morning, go home then wake up at around 10 AM and still go to work. With time, they grew and became a big tour company offering tours not just within Kenya but beyond its borders. He runs the business alongside his wife and together they have managed to create a balance between work and family.
In 2015, Bonfire was one of KPMG’s top 100 mid-sized companies making over 700 million annual turnover. In 2017, the company joined club 101 making a turnover of more than one billion Kenyan Shillings. It has also received many awards and employs hundreds of people.
Simon Kabu met Sara in December 2007 and a wonderful friendship begun which blossomed to love. The couple spoke on Ebru TV back in 2018 and Sara says Simon was always giving her gifts. He showed up for the first date with flowers and always showed up with something in the dates that followed. The proposal was a surprise and she was not even ready, she hadn’t even dressed accordingly or made her hair. In fact, when she was woken up by Kabu the morning of the proposal she didn’t want to go.
They held an invite only ceremony at the Naivasha country club which was a breathtaking blend of nature combining both the wild and the beach. The groom and his men rode horses while the bride and her maids came in through a boat. They proceeded to have a one-month honeymoon starting in Kenya before proceeding to other destinations. After the honeymoon, they continued working hard to grow the business.
In December 2012 they welcomed their first child, a boy named Austin Kabu and four years later they welcomed their second, a girl. Simon is known to often surprise his wife. He caused a stir at the CBD once when he surprised his wife with a black Range Rover on her birthday and in 2020 surprised her with a wonderful party on their anniversary. The party had a few guests among them The WaJesus Family and The Bahatis. They have a YouTube channel where they share some of their precious family moments.
The couple is able to work together harmoniously as marriage and business partners due to setting boundaries and defining their roles in the company.
Simon Kabu estimated net worth is kes500 million.