Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri: Sold His Land To Start Betting Giant

The blogoshere was awash with stories of Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri and his many extravagances afforded by his fat paycheck. The young CEO has rubbished some of these reports appearing on blogs terming them as ‘pure lies and fabrications’. For starters, Karauri has been literally a high flier having been a first officer then a captain with Kenya Airways (KQ) for 11 years. At KQ, Karauri went on to serve as the Kenya Airline Pilots Association secretary general. He exited KQ to start Sportpesa, the most popular online sports betting company.

How Sportpesa came into existence

Sportpesa was by the far the most visible and popular betting company in Kenya and by extension in East Africa. It had spread it tentacles in the European Premier League and have entered sponsorship partnerships with Arsenal Football and Hull City. Locally, the company was the main sponsor of AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia.

The Sportesa CEO told SDE how the idea was floated in a casino where he frequented. He told the man who had shared the idea that he was really interested and wanted to join him in the venture, “ …,you know what, I am really interested and would like to join you. So, initially I was one of the few people who bought the idea because at that time, not many people could see it. Some people joined much later”.

Karauri Sportpesa Shares

The 41 year old CEO believed in the business that he sold his parcel of land for kes25million to acquire six percent stake in the betting company. In a different interview with SDE, Karauri recounted how it was nearly impossible to get people to invest in Sportpesa :

“You know when we started SportPesa in 2014, no one would have even touched us. No one even thought it could go anywhere. I remember asking some guys, “do you have some cash to put into this thing…” They would tell me “Boss, what the hell is this? You’re talking about gambling. It can’t work.” But it has proved to be one of the most profitable business in Kenya and attracted other betting firms for a slice of the cake.

Karauri’s salary

The CEO ranks among the highest paid in the country. According to, Karauri monthly salary was kes10million in 2017 reports we have not been able to independently verify. This figure excludes the bonuses he receives. Interestingly he doesn’t bet preferring instead a game of poker.

Other Sportpesa Kenya shareholders under Pevans East Africa are:

1. Gene Grand (American) -21%
2. Guerassim Nikolov (Bulgarian) – 21%
3. Asenath Wacera Maina (Kenyan) – 21%
4. Paul Wanderi Ndung’u (Kenyan) -17%
5. Ronald Kamwiko Karauri (Kenyan) – 6%
6. Cellini Holdings – 5%
7. Valentina Nikolaeva (Bulgarian) – 3%
8. Robert Kenn Wanyoike Macharia (Kenyan) – 3%
9. Ivan Kalpakchiev (Bulgarian) – 2%
10. Francis Waweru Kiarie (Kenyan) – 1%

Clash of shareholders

Intrigues at the giant betting firm saw businessman Paul Wanderi Ndung’u and Asenath Wacera Maina being excluded from buying shares in the holding company — SportPesa Global Holding Limited (SGHL) — leading to dilution of their ownership in the UK-based firm.

Sportpesa had made a return to the market under Milestone, a company registered in October 2020. SGHL owns the European and Tanzania businesses and made claims of owning Sportpesa Kenya brand to the chagrin of Mr Ndung’u who maintained that Pevans East Africa owned the betting platform and trade name.

The shareholders of SGHL are as follows:

Mr Nikolov-34.7 percent stake

Naogen Investment Inc-33.1 percent stake

Ivaylo Petev Bozoukov-2.8 percent

Ivan Kalpakchev-3.1 percent

Mr Karauri-9.8 percent

Francis Waweru Kiarie-1.5 percent

Robert Macharia-1.5 percent

Amount Of Money Sportpesa Made Annually

According to investigative reports by the government, the KRA and Finance Uncovered, the firm was making between Sh6 billion and Sh8 billion in revenues per month. This translated Sh100 billion in annual revenues. Sportpesa put their annual Gross Gaming Revenue at Sh20 billion.

Also Read: Ten Silent Billionaires In Kenya Who Hate The Limelight 

Business owned by Karauri

Skylux Club
The Sportpesa CEO owns the high end Skylux Club in Westlands.

Reports that he owns a Gulfstream Jet
He denied reports making heavy rotation on blogs claiming that he had acquired a Gulfstream Jet which goes for $38million (kes3.8 billion).

He owns a Myabach MercedesS600 and a Range Rover Overfinch.