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The Multi-Billion Business Empire Owned by SK Macharia

Samwel Kamau Macharia, popularly known as SK Macharia is among the wealthiest individuals in Kenya. He boasts an investment portfolio worth billions of shillings and spread across various sectors of the economy.

Macharia is the founder and owner of Kenya’s leading private media company, Royal Media Services (RMS) which operates Citizen TV and Radio Citizen among multiple other vernacular television and radio stations.

The media mogul’s career investment journey dates back to his days in Ndakaini village in Murang’a County where he taught as was born and raised in Murang’a wherehe taught as an untrained teacher after completing the Kenya African Preliminary Education (KAPE). He earned a monthly salary of Ksh8.

File image of media mogul SK Macharia. |Photo| Courtesy|
File image of media mogul SK Macharia. |Photo| Courtesy|

Thereafter, SK Macharia trained as a P3 teacher at Kahuhia Teachers Training College. After applying for the Kennedy Airlifts, he was successful, but the family could not afford Ksh4,000 air ticket.

They only managed to raise Ksh1200. He had to take the longer route by travelled by road to Libya for two months before boarding a ship to England.

While in England, he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Seattle Pacific University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in accounting from University of Washington. He also earned a Master of Arts Degree in Accounting and became a Certified Public Accountant.

Business Empire

After returning to Kenya, SK Macharia worked as a public servant before he called it quits to establish Madhupaper tissue company in 1976. It was the only tissue paper manufacturer in Kenya at the time. It’s brand ‘Rosy’ became a household name and remains so to date.

In 1989, he sold the tissue paper company to an investor for Ksh250 million and ventured into the media, founding RMS.

Citizen TV and Radio Citizen, the flagship stations of the brand have since grown toto become the leading media houses in Kenya. Other RMS stations include; Bahati FM, Mulembe FM, Ramogi FM, Hot 96, Vuuka FM, Musyi FM, Egesa FM, Chamgei FM, Inooro FM and Inooro TV.

The tycoon is also the owner of sportsbetting firm Shabiki which is among the country’s most preferred bookies.

SK Macharia is also the Chairperson of Royal Credit Limited, which owns Directline Assurance Kenya – a leading insurance company in Kenya synonymous with Public Service Vehicles (PSV).

File image of the Directline Assurance insignia. |Photo| Courtesy|
File image of the Directline Assurance insignia. |Photo| Courtesy|

Directline joined the Kenyan market in November 2005 as a motor vehicle insurance company. In the 2022/2023 fiscal year, the Company’s income stood at Ksh4.1 billion, up from Ksh3.6 billion the previous year.

The company attributed the profit hike to partnerships with market intermediaries including 3200 agents, 83 brokers and 17 banks.

According to reports, the company insures over 60 per cent of PSVs in Kenya. However, the company’s corporate mismanagement has led to its closure.

In a statement on Monday, June 10, 2024, SK Macharia ordered the immediate termination of the Directline Assurance board. He explained that the company was unable to continue operating after its assets were seized by the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA).

He further faulted the State Agency for failing to take action against the Directline’s former directors for mismanaging company funds totaling Ksh7 billion.