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Top Ten Most Successful CEOs in Kenya

Rising to become the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a multibillion shilling company is no mean feat. Despite the availability of well educated and trained individuals, only a handful make it to the top of the corporate ladder.

Kenya boasts one of the best economies in Africa making it home to some of the largest companies on the continent. These companies hold interests in various sectors of the economy ranging from finance, telecommunications, and manufacturing, among others.

At the helm of these companies are men and women who have defied odds to steer the companies into profitability, while others built their empires from nothing.

WoK in this article profiles some of the most successful CEOs in Kenya.

  1. Tabitha Karanja

Tabitha is a strong-willed woman behind Keroche Breweries, a successful alcoholic beverages manufacturer and supplier.

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Tabitha Karanja Image/Courtesy

In 1997, she met her husband and started a fortified wine company that went out of the market due to punitive taxes introduced by the government. She instead began making ready to drink gin and vodka which are on the market to date.

Together with her husband, she started with the new brand Vienna with an initial production of 200 litres. As demand for their product gained a footing, Tabitha and her husband introduced four additional drinks.

In 2007, the government increased taxes on local wines which affected her business, pricing some of her products out of the local market.

The dynamic duo started making gin and vodka under her newfound Keroche Industries. In 2008, she added beer with the brand name”summit”.

Keroche Industries was renamed to Keroche Breweries by her in 2015 opening a Ksh5.5 billion refurbished plant. This increased production from 10 million litres to 110 million litres. The brand was commissioned by Adan Mohammed, the then Cabinet secretary for industrialisation on March 31, 2015.

Her wealth is estimated at Ksh5.5 billion.

2. James Mwangi

He is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Equity Bank Group. Mwangi is arguably among the most successful CEOs in the country, steering Equity bank into one of the largest banks in East and Central Africa.

Equity CEO James Mwangi Sh278.5m Income Breakdown As He Becomes Top Earner
Equity Bank’s Chief Executive Officer James Mwangi addresses investors at the Equity Bank headquarters in the Upper Hill district of Nairobi, Kenya November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi

Equity Bank has branches across various countries in EAC including recently in DRC Congo. The Bank also has one of the most successful academic scholarship programmes in the continent, dubbed “Wings to Fly”.

Mwangi is among the highest-paid CEOs in Kenya and arguable one of the richest individuals. In 2020 he raked in Ksh278 million in bonuses.

He also owns a 5.52 per cent stake in Equity Bank. He is estimated at a net worth of $170 million (Ksh18.3 billion).

3. Benson Wairegi

Wairegi is the incumbent Group Managing Director and Group Chief Executive Officer of British-American Investments Company (Britam).

He first joined Britam at age 24 as the Chief Accountant and has grown to be head of the company and is also reported to have a stake in the company.

The Top 20 Highest Paid Company CEO In Kenya 2020/2021
Benson Wairegi Image/Courtesy

4. Dr. Catherine Nyongesa

Dr. Nyongesa is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Texas Cancer Centre.

The medical facility is among the leading cancer screening and treatment hospitals in the country. It has multiple branches across the country.

Reports indicate that the hospital rakes in over Ksh500 million annually in Revenue. Dr. Nyongesa is valued at a net worth of over Ksh1 billion.

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Dr Catherine Nyongesa Image/Courtesy

5. Peter Ndegwa

Peter Ndegwa is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of leading telecommunications giant, Safaricom Plc. He was appointed to the role in 2020 and assumed leadership on April 1, the same year.

The Safaricom CEO job is among the most lucrative corporate jobs in Kenya as the firm controls about 60 per cent of the bourse at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE).

Following his appointment, The Standard and Business Daily reported that Ndegwa would be entitled to a Ksh9 million salary per month.

Under his stewardship, Safaricom registered Ksh68.67 billion in profit after tax for the year ended March 31, 2021.

The Top 20 Highest Paid CEOs In Kenya 2020/2021
Peter Ndegwa is the current Safaricom CEO Image/Courtesy

6. Rebecca Miano

Miano is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of electricity producer Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen).

She has had a 30-year multi-faceted career in the energy sector and is a recognised continental business leader focused on running KenGen as a sustainable entity.

Miano is touted to be among the highest-earning CEOs in the country due to her role at the helm of KenGen.

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File image of KenGen CEO Rebecca Miano. |Photo| Courtesy|

7. Joshua Oigara

He is the Group CEO of Kenya Commercial Bank (KBC), the biggest banking group in Kenya based on assets. His appointment in 2012 made him the youngest CEO of a blue chip company in East Africa.

Under Joshua Oigara leadership, the bank has seen a tremendous growth rate. During his term, KCB has really grown, with the introduction of various services, like, KCB Mpesa.

He is also among the highest-paid CEOs in Kenya.

KCB CEO Joshua Oigara Biography, Age and Family, Education, Positions, Salary and Net Worth
KCB Group CEO Joshua Oigara Photo/Courtesy

8. Gideon Muriuki

Gideon Muriuki is a Kenyan businessman and banker who is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Co-operative Bank.

He has been at the helm of the bank since 2001 and has been credited with turning around the fortunes of the bank. He transformed the lender from a loss-making entity to the third-largest bank in the country by asset management.

His tenure at the bank has seen Co-operative grow into a leading lender in the country and a preference of many Kenyans. As of July 23, 2021, the bank’s shares go Ksh13.30 per share, meaning Muriuki’s stake at the lender is worth in excess of Ksh1.5 billion.

Gideon Muriuki Salary, Bonuses & Earnings From Co-op Bank Stake Since 2015
File image of Co-op Bank CEO Gideon Muriuki. |Photo| Courtesy|

9. Jeremy Awori

Jeremy Awori is the incumbent Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Absa Bank Kenya.

Awori has established himself as one of the most reputable names in the finance sector, for his exploits in banking. He is also among the highest-paid CEOs in the country.

After graduating from the University of Mancherster, Awori first worked as a pharmacist in the UK before moving to study in Canada.

In 2003, he joined Standard Chartered Bank and served as the Head of Consumer Banking in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He was General Manager of the retail banking franchise for the bank covering all retail and SME products across the country.

At the time the SCB UAE business was the largest foreign bank by profitability.

Between 2006 and December 2008, he worked for SCB as Regional Sales Director for the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. He was responsible for retail sales product sales across Standard Chartered’s franchise across 23 countries.

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Barclays Bank Of Kenya (BBK) CEO Jeremy Awori Photo/BusinessDaily

In December 2008 he was appointed the CEO of SCB Tanzania and served in the capacity until January 2013.

He joined Absa, then Barclays Bank in February 2013 and has served as CEO since then.

Awori also served as the Chairman of the Kenya Bankers Association between 2013 and 2014.

10. Jane Karuku

Karuku is a Kenyan businesswoman and corporate executive who is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the East African Breweries Limited (EABL).

She is among the highest-paid CEOs in the country. She reportedly earns Ksh7.5 million per month.

Jane Karuku Biography, Age, Education, Family, Career And Salary
Jane Karuku Is At The Helm Of EABL Image/Courtesy

Rebecca Mbithi

She is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Family Bank Ltd. She was appointed to the role in February 2019.

Being the head of one of the leading banks in the country, he salary, perks and bonuses are presumably lucrative.

“Taking over as CEO has given me the opportunity to steer the ship with formidable strategies that have put us back to profitability and we continue on an upward trajectory,” she stated during her appointment.

Family Bank CEO Rebecca Mbithi Biography, Education and Career 
Family Bank CEO Rebecca Mbithi Image/Courtesy