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From The Classroom To Billionaires: Richest Former Teachers In Kenya

The mention of the word “teacher” nowadays doesn’t command much respect as it used to back in the days. On a measurement of wealth, teaching is not considered a lucrative career, but a number of tutors have made a name for themselves, emerging as major investors in the country. As a matter of fact, some rose to become some of the wealthiest in Kenya.

In this article, WoK takes a look at some of the wealthiest Kenyans who were once teachers.

Samuel K. Macharia

SK Macharia is popularly renowned for his ownership of the Royal Media Services (RMS) which is the parent company for several media houses including, Citizen TV, Inooro TV, Ramogi TV, Radio Citizen, and Hot 96, among others.

The billionaire businessman was born and raised in Murang’a where he attended primary and secondary school. Upon completing the Kenya African Preliminary Education (KAPE), he taught as an untrained teacher at Makomboki primary school in Muranga County where he earned Ksh8 monthly.

Thereafter, he trained as a P3 teacher at Kahuhia Teachers Training College.

“In 1958 and ’59, I attended Kahuhia College for P3 teachers training and I qualified to teach class one pupils. I was number one out of that college and was posted to Gaturo Primary School where I taught for three months,” Macharia stated during an interview in 2020.

Daniel and Eddah Gachukia

The couple are the founders and owners of the Riara Group of Schools. Unknown to many is that after graduating from Makerere University Professor Eddah Gachukia and her husband began their careers as teachers.

Daniel has taught at Namilyango High School in Uganda, Thika and Kagumo High Schools in Kenya where as Eddah on the other hand started her teaching career at Thika High School.

Prof Eddah later advanced her studies at the Leeds University and the University of Nairobi (UoN). She would then lecture at UoN between from 1973 to 1987.

Nelson Muguku and Leah Wanjiku

Nelson Muguku was one of the wealthiest people in Kenya who  rose from nothing to own multi-billion properties and investments across the country.

The late billionaire businessman’s investment journey began when he tutored at carpentry at Kabianga Teachers’ College (now Kabianga High School).

Muguku met his wife, Leah Wanjiku when she was a teacher at the Kagaa Primary School in Githunguri, Kiambu County.

The couple later quit teaching and focused on poultry farming from which they built a multi-billion shillings empire with an investment portfolio stretching into the stock markets.

Daniel Arap Moi

The late former president was one of the wealthiest individuals in Kenya and the region. Moi was a trained teacher and was posted to Tambach Teachers Training College where he served as an assistant principal.

Kenya’s second president became a member of the Legislative Council of Kenya (Legco) in 1955 after which he rose to hold various cabinet positions in the Mzee Jomo Kenyatta regime before his appointment as Vice President.

After succeeding Kenyatta, Moi rose to become one of the wealthiest individuals in Kenya and boasted an investment portfolio cutting across various sectors of the economy. He invested in the education sector, being the founder of Kabarak schools (High School and Univerasity) located at his farm in Nakuru County.

Simon Gicharu

Dr. Simon Gicharu is the chairman and founder of Mount Kenya University (MKU) – one of the largest private universities in East Africa.

The MKU founder first worked as a secondary teacher before proceeding to teach at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Thika Technical Training Institute.

It was not until he was fired by the Teachers Service Commission that his entrepreneurial journey began. Today, he owns one of the best universities in the region along with several other investments including, Cape Media Limited which runs TV47.

Mwai Kibaki

Unknown to many, late former president Mwai Kibaki served as an Assistant Lecturer of economics at Makarere University in Uganda.

Kenya’s thrid president was also the first African to attain a first-class in economics from the London School of Economics.

Kibaki joined politics through KANU in 1960 and held various government positions. He served as Vice President in the President Moi regime prior to his election as president in 2002.

Kibaki invested greatly in Kenya’s education system, introducing free primary education.