Ten expatriates smitten with Kenya’s great beauty

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Michael Joseph. Photo/Courtesy

They came, they saw and the allure of East Africa’s biggest economy conquered them. Bordered by the Indian Ocean, Kenya’s relative stability, elaborate network of roads and airlines that provide easy connections to major global cities, as well as a developed hospitality industry have continued to attract investors and foreign professionals, many of whom have opted to take up Kenyan citizenship after a tour of their duties, courtesy of the 2010 Constitution. Here are some foreign executives who took up citizenship after being smitten by  allure of Kenya.

1. Michael Joseph

An American citizen, Joseph is credited with growing Safaricom from a nondescript unit of a former State corporation to East Africa’s most profitable company that to date is impacting the lives of millions of Kenyans through telecommunication and money transfer services.

He acquired Kenyan citizenship in 2014, and has built a home in the Lewa Conservancy, located in northern Kenya.

He is currently serving in an interim capacity as Safaricom CEO after the death of former CEO Bob Collymore. He is also the chairman of Kenya Airways.Joseph successfully headed Safaricom from 2000 to 2010 when he retired.

e currently serves as Vodafone’s Strategic Advisor to the boards of Safaricom Ltd Kenya, Vodacom Group South Africa, Vodacom Tanzania, and Vodacom Mozambique.

2. Jim Dry

He initially came to Kenya in 1990 with the US Agency for International Development (USAid) to help the government put in place the legislative, financial, and administrative support structure for the creation of the Capital Markets Authority.

Dry also worked on the rejuvenation of the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE). Upon completing the task in 1994, Dry headed back to Washington DC.

However, he came back to Kenya on the prompting of his children who he said “love and wanted to stay in Kenya.”

He has since formed an investment advisory firm, Dry Associates Ltd which deals with private health, corporate finance, investment products and fund management.

3. Ann McCreath

An Irish fashion designer and founder of the best known local fashion houses KikoRomeo, a brand that has rapidly put the East African fashion industry on the world map, McCreath came to Kenya in 1992 as a project manager for medical charity, Medicins sans Frontiers and according to her, fell in love with the country at first sight.

Ann McCreath. Photo/Courtesy

Though she had initially planned to stay for a year, McCreath extended the period by three years and upon expiry of her contract, chose to permanently stay in Kenya to pursue her old career in fashion - giving rise to one of the best known local fashion houses KikoRomeo.

4. Tom Wolf

For more than a decade the US born Wolf was the corporate face of Ipsos Kenya (previously Steadman and Synovate), which has conducted political opinion polls/ surveys in the country since 2005.

Analysis of the political polls that received wide coverage in the media also drew sharp criticism from competing political parties whose officials termed them biased.

Observers opine that this is what led to his sacking in April last year, following what was said to be Ipsos’ self-imposed ban on political opinion polls. 

Wolf has, however said he has no intention of leaving Kenya. “I will be exploring other opportunities here where my knowledge and skills can contribute to the country’s development,” he declared during an interview with the local press.

5. Andre Desimone

A former CEO of Kestrel Capital East Africa Ltd., an investment banking company that offers brokerage services on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, the long-serving chief executive resigned from the company last April under a cloud of ongoing investigations into suspected insider trading of KenolKobil’s shares ahead of the oil firm’s buyout by French conglomerate Rubis Énergie.

His resignation marked the end his 24-year reign at the helm of one of Kenya’s leading investment banks, having started his career at the company in January1995.

6. Gareth George

He has the unique record of being the only CEO to be in charge of two leading banks in the country. A Briton by birth, George was tapped from Barclays Bank in 2001 to boost KCB’s turnaround process.

He took over when the bank was on the brink of insolvency, having posted billions of shillings in losses, low staff morale, and almost nil customer and investor confidence.

He presided over rebranding of the bank to create a new image. A one time KCB CEO Martin Oduor Otieno, in an interview with a local daily, attributes the current KCB Group’s success to George. 

Having spent five years in Kenya, the first two years as Barclays managing director and the remainder at KCB, he went into private practice, by launching a management consultancy business in Nairobi.

7. Tob Cohen

Little known to the average Kenyan, Cohen who was of Dutch descent became famous posthumously after the manner he encountered his tragic death was covered extensively in the local and international press.

Tob Cohen. Photo/Courtesy

Sarah Wairimu, the widow of the late Dutch billionaire and Peter Karanja have been charged with his murder. Police retrieved his body from a septic tank within the confines of their Kitutsuru home, where it had been dumped. 

Cohen was a towering figure within the country’s corporate circles, cutting a niche in the golf circles where he organised international golf excursions in Kenya through his Tobs Kenya Golf Safaris.

8. William Collymore

Fondly referred to as Bob, Collymore succumbed to cancer on July 1 last year, aged 61. 

William Collymore. Photo/Courtesy

Appointed Safaricom’s CEO on November 1, 2010 he is remembered for taking over a fast-growing company and turning it into a behemoth that by the time of his death, had raked in huge profits that peaked at Sh63.4 billion in the year ended March 2019, with revenues of Sh251 billion.

Collymore championed environmental programmes and for the vulnerable in the society.

He ensured M-Pesa, the world’s most developed mobile payment platform, and its associated products, became a core part of Kenya’s financial services infrastructure.

9. Bill Lay

Easily picked out of a crowd because of his burly figure and orotund voice, Bill’s duty call to Kenya came in 1989 when General Motors (GM) posted him to the country as a sales director.

He would later in 1999 become the CEO of GM Kenya, a position which enabled him to oversee the company’s transformation to GM East Africa to take advantage of a larger market, moving its market share from 11 to 26 per cent.

He retired in March 2011, and would later be snapped up by Cooper Motors Cooperation (CMC) in the same position.

He has built a retirement home in Taita-Taveta County from where his wife, Joyce Wanjala Mwakalindo comes from and where he says he will retire.

10. David Silverstein

He first came to Kenya in 1977, where he worked at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH)’s Cath Lab, and then headed the health facility’s cardiology unit before he was named the chief cardiothoracic physician for the government.

He became former President Daniel arap Moi’s personal physician in 1983, a position he holds to date.

A University of Chicago’s medical school graduate, his portfolio of clients consists of who-is-who in Kenya including former Attorney General Charles Njonjo. Silverstein has a farm near Lake Naivasha, where he rears chicken, cows, horses, geese, dogs, and cats.

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