The hospitality and real estate sectors are some of the most lucrative business ventures in Kenya. Stephen Kung’u was a man who found a stable footing in the two sectors and clearly made a fortune out of it. He owned several hotels, prime lands and high end properties spread across different parts of the country.
In this article, WoK highlights Stephen Kung’u journey from a councillor in Nakuru to building a Ksh 50 billion empire.
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Stephen Kung’u was born in 1939 in Elburgon, Nakuru County where he lived all his life. In the late 1970s he became a councillor in Nakuru and later on a powerful member at the Ministry of Commerce’ Scheme for Assistance of African Industrialists, Artisans and Businessmen in Nakuru. He branched into business by setting a butchery in Nairobi CBD which later transition into a hotel.
He was among the first traders in Nakuru to establish a tourist hotel and entertainment joint which he named ‘Club Coco Savanna.’ He sold the hotel in 1998 to his brother James Kagiri which came to be at the centre of family rows leading to its closure. Stephen proceeded to invest in the hotel and real estate sectors growing his portfolio over the years to become a billionaire.
He established the popular Hotel Kunste in Nakuru where political meetings were including KANU regional delegate meetings. The facility can host a meeting of up to 500 people and open air gatherings of about 5,000 people. He owned Terminal 2 (formerly Monte Carlo Club) in Nairobi CBD, Pivot Hotel in Nakuru, Parklands Villa, three house blocks in Hurlingham Luthuli house, apartments and flats in Ngara Estate, Ambassador Court near Integrity Center in Nairobi and Ojijo Plaza in Nairobi which generates Ksh 2 million per month. He also owned dozens of acres of land in Nakuru, Nyahururu, Gilgil and Kiambu.
Despite all this success, he led a private life and often avoided cameras and the media. He often visited his numerous businesses wearing a huge smile and engaged everyone respectfully and in a friendly manner.
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Stephen Kung’u died on 6th April 2015 at his residence in Shabab area, Nakuru. By the time of his death, he had grown his portfolio into an empire worth Ksh 50 billion as reported by Nation Media. This involved numerous bank accounts with cash including a Barclays Bank account (now ABSA Bank), Westlands Branch with a fixed deposit of Ksh 1.5 billion.
Mr. Kung’u died without leaving behind a will or succession plan which led to a bitter fallout and endless court cases among the family members. His daughter’s Naomi Wambui, Rahab Wamucii and Bilha Wanjiku, whom he bore with his second wife Joyce Wanjiru Kung’u took to court in 2016 accusing their stepmother of sabotaging the business they were in charge of as part of their inheritance.
According to court documents, the trio alleged that the children of Mr. Kungu’s first wife started interfering with their ownership of Monte Carlo Club which eventually saw them kicked out. They proceeded to rename the club as Terminal 2 and collected rent from the property physically to avoid a paper trail. They also alleged that there were attempts to transfer funds from the deceased’s accounts without their consent. The three daughters asked the court to direct that they be involved in the deceased inheritance and equally receive a share of the vast estate. The case is yet to be determined by the courts.
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