By Hezron Moturi
Kisii county is not all about bananas and sugarcane. Those we have visited the town-with all its disorganization-agree on the friendly nature of the Abugusii people and their entrepreneurial spirit. The county has a high number of luxurious hotels even though it is not a tourism hub. Other businesses that investors have put their money in is in the transport sector. So who are the big boys and girls driving the Kisii economy?
Here is the list of the top ten richest people in Kisii county as compiled by WoK.
Haron Kamau-Karmel Park And Overseas Buses
He has been described as a serial entrepreneur by Business Daily. Mr Haron Kamau owns by far the best hotel in Kisii county. Everything about Karmel Park that sits on a five acre parcel of land is ‘world class’.
The swimming pool that has been integrated with artificially designed caves, cliffs and waterfalls is second to none in the region. It is also the only hotel in the region that boasts of a helipad. According to the owner of the magnificent hotel, he borrowed the design from China and Dubai where he frequents.
Away from the hospitality industry, the businessman is well known in the transport industry. He was a shareholder in Transline before he ventured on his own to launch the all white with blue striped Overseas buses and matatus.
Isabella Lumumba-Co-owner Ufanisi Resort
Ufanisi Resort was the best hotel before Karmel Park happened. But to be fair, the hotel edges the latter in some areas. Those who love nature will opt for Ufanisi with its tall trees sandwiching the pathways that lead to the rooms and swimming pool.
The hotel is conveniently near Kisii CBD making this a perfect location for meetings over a cup of coffee. Isabella is married to former Kisii County Secretary Patrick Lumumba, a powerful position in the county. Patrick is part owner of Ufanisi.
Evans Nyagaka Anyona-Owner Ena Coach
He is a veteran in the transport industry. Starting out with Transline before the company went bust, Nyagaka ventured out and founded ENA coach. These buses are simply on a class of their own. Classy, comfortable and worth every penny.
Simeon Nyachae-Former Minister
Age has slowed him down but he remains one of the most popular Kisii leaders of all time. Simeon Nyachae will go down history lane as the longest serving and last Chief Secretary in Kenya. Nyachae owns Sansora Group that has interests in banking, real estate, wheat and flour milling (Swan and Kabansora Millers), aviation and horticulture.
Jiwa Shamji Ltd
This family owned business rules the roost in the construction sector in Kisii county and the Western region at large. The organization has undertaken some of the largest road construction projects in the region. They also distribute Isuzu trucks and buses in Kisii and other parts of the country. The company has created employment in the region.
The family is considered among the richest people in Kisii.
Ouru Brothers-Ouro Superstores
The brothers have employed hundreds in their business empire. They own Ouru superstores in Kisii town and have invested heavily in real estate. Unconfirmed reports intimated to this writer that the brothers may have disagreed and gone separate ways in as far as business is concerned.
One of the brothers, Mogambi Mogaka, relocated to the US following the squabbles and reports of tax evasion. He rented his home which has been turned to La Serena hotel.
James Ongwae-Kisii County Governor
Like most county bosses in the country, the former Kisii Governor James Ongwae ranks among the richest men in the region.
Joash Maangi-Ex-Deputy County Governor
His house alone is worth Ksh50 million. The palatial villa has a main house, guest house, conference room, gym, swimming pool, garden and a helipad. The former DG has another home in the US where his family resides. In an interview on Citizen TV with Lilian Muli, Maangi said he built the house before he assumed office:
“I built this house before I became deputy governor, it was too expensive for me to build such a house in the US. But I also have a house there where my family stays…” he told Muli.
He closes the list of the richest people in Kisii.