It is not a secret that most Kenyan tycoons hail from the Mount Kenya region. One particular village in the vast central region known for producing the highest number of billionaires is Rwathia in Murang’a County.
In this article, WoK takes a look at the billionaires hailing from Murang’a County who transformed Nairobi.
Mzee Gerald Gikonyo
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Mzee Gerald Gikonyo Kanyuria is a renowned Nairobi businessman and entrepreneur. He was born in Rwathia village, Kangema, Murang’a County and first moved to Nairobi as a teenager in search of greener pastures. He started hawking vegetables and would save the little money he was making which he used to buy shops and buildings at an affordable price from the Europeans who were fleeing back to their country after independence. He would later establish the Rwathia group and together with his friends, began developing the properties. The 106 year old billionaire currently owns a number of hotels such as Alfa hotel, Magomano hotel, New Kinangop hotel and Timboroa hotel. He has also invested heavily in the Real estate and large scale farming sectors.
Peter Munga is the founder and ex-chairman of Equity Group Holdings – a conglomerate which operates one of the largest and most successful banks in Africa. Munga was born in 1943 in Rwathia and started off his career as an assistant secretary at the Ministry of Water. He would later quit the job to establish Equity Building Society which later transformed to Equity Bank. The bank has grown to have over 9.2 million customers and has operations in the East African countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan. He has a net worth of over Ksh3 billion as of 2022.
Samuel Kamau Macharia
Samuel Kamau Macharia famously known as SK Macharia is the Founder and Chairman of Royal Media Services (RMS). Macharia was born in 1942 in Ndakaini village, Murang’a County where he spent the better part of his childhood and teenage life. He started his career as a Provincial Local government Finance Officer in the Ministry of Local government. He then joined Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) and later at Kenya Industrial Estate (KIE). In 1979 he quit his job to start Madhupaper International Kenya Limited – a tissue manufacturing company. He would later sell the company and establish RMS, which eventually became a major success. The company is one of the largest media companies in Kenya operating three television channels and over 15 radio stations.
Dr James Mwangi
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Dr James Mwangi is the current Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Equity Group Holdings Limited. Mwangi was born in 1962 in Rwathia village where he did his primary and secondary education. After clearing his Bachelor of Commerce Degree at the University of Nairobi, he worked at Price Water house and later at Trade Bank. He was then hired by his cousin Peter Munga of Equity Building Services (EBS) to help the organization which was losing Ksh 5 million per year. While aged 31 years, he helped transform the organization into a bank, from making losses into one of the largest banks in East and Central Africa with an assets worth Ksh 900 billion as of 2020.
John Kibunga Kimani
John Kibunga Kimani is a billionaire investor who serves as the non-executive director of Kakuzi Plc – one of the largest agricultural companies that is listed in both the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and London Stock Exchange. Kimani was born in Makuyu village, Murang’a County where he spent the better part of his childhood and teenage life. Kabana started buying shares at Kakuzi Plc back in the 90s and has grown his stake over decades. He currently controls a 32.2 percent stake and is the largest individual shareholder of the company. He has invested in other blue chip companies such as Safaricom and Nation Media Group. His investments at the NSE amounts up to Ksh 5 billion.
Jimnah Mbaru is the Founder and Chairman of Dyer and Blair Investment Bank which he founded in 1983. He was born in 1943 in Rwathia where he did his basic education. He made his wealth from investing in the Stock Exchange and joining the insurance sector. His stake at Britam limited surpasses Ksh 1 billion.
Benson Wairegi is the Managing Director (MD) and CEO of British American Investments company famously known as Britam. He was born in Kigumo, Murang’a county and after completing his degree at the University of Nairobi, he joined Britam as a Chief Accountant while aged 24 years old. He worked his way up to the top of the company which has operations in seven African countries. His shares in the company have grown over the years amounting to over Ksh 2 billion.
The late Chris Kirubi
The late businessman and investor Chris Kirubi was also born and raised in Murang’a County. He was the founder and chairman of Centum Investments Company, a business conglomerate of which he was the largest shareholder. He had a net worth of over Ksh 5 billion before he passed away in 2021.