Ten most profitable firms in Kenya even in tough times

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020 00:00 |
Economic growth. Photo/Courtesy

In the last five years, several companies have closed shop, with hundreds of employees losing jobs. Analysts predict tougher times ahead, particularly due to the huge national debt weighing down the national economic growth potential, amid dwindling foreign direct investments. However, in the midst of the heat, a couple of companies have shown resilience and indeed grown in margins, expanded markets and diversified product portfolio. Here are some that weathered the storm to post huge profits:


Safaricom is the leading mobile network provider in Kenya. Since its establishment in 1993, the telco has spurred growth of Kenya’s economy by providing job opportunities.

Safaricom’s consistent innovation in the communication sector has greatly contributed to its success and growth over the past decade.

The giant telco has over 39 million users across the country who have endorsed its services such as M-Pesa and Mshwari which continue to grow the company’s overall bottom line.

This has made Safaricom the most profitable company in Kenya with a net worth of over Sh1.1 trillion. The company made a cool Sh65 billion in the 2018/19 financial period.

East African Breweries Limited (EABL) is an alcoholic brewer formerly known as Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL).

Formed in 1932, KBL merged with Tanganyika Breweries Limited (TBL) in 1936 hence changing name to EABL.

The company carries out operation across in Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda. It is the biggest and leading alcohol beverage maker in the region with a net worth of Sh173 billion, making it one of the biggest companies in Kenya.

Its success and tremendous growth are not only reflected in Kenya but also in the entire East Africa region where it employs thousands of people directly and indirectly. EABL products include spirit, beer, and adult non-alcoholic beverages.

Equity Bank

This is one of the leading commercial banks in Kenya in terms of value, service delivery, and profit-making.

The bank started as a SACCO in Muranga back in the 1970s. The lender now has 173 branches across the country, and 38 of them operate within Nairobi.

It does not only provide financial services to Kenyans but also to the whole of East Africa Community including Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and South Sudan.

Currently, the company’s net-worth is Sh158 billion. Its significant success has been recognized globally to the extent of being invited to international forums. 


Kenya Commercial Bank was founded in 1896, making it one of the oldest companies in Kenya with over 250 branches serving more than 16 million customers.

KCB extended its operations Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Sudan.

In 2018, the Bank took over the running of the insolvent Chase Bank which later turned to SBM Bank and became the appointed receiver manager of crippled Mumias Sugar Company. It also took over National Bank.

KCB’s total assets stand at Sh746.51 billion ($7.46 billion) as per the lender’s financial statements for the six months to June 30 2019.

Bidco Africa

Bidco Africa, previously Bidco Oil Refineries Limited (BORL), is a multinational consumer goods company headquartered in Thika, Kenya subsidiaries and distributorships across 17 countries in East Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa.

Its products include edible oils, fats, margarine, laundry bars and detergents, personal care products, animal feeds and most recently, Food and Beverages.

Bidco Africa owns over 40 brands and is the largest producer and marketer of consumer goods in the region and over 25,000 employees.

The company is run by Bhimji Depar Shah and family under Hemby Holdings Company. The company remains on course to achieving its vision to be Africa’s largest manufacturer of fast-moving consumer goods by 2030.

This vision is built on the back of a combined investment estimated at $700 million (Sh71 billion) and an annual turnover of $500 million (Shs 50 billion).

Kenya Pipeline Company

KPC is a State firm that transports, stores, loads, and dispenses petroleum products. KPC uses its value chain to gain competitive advantage in a tight business environment.

The firm’s competitive basis is based on the fact that the company has heavy investment in infrastructure and that the company enjoys government support as the investment arm of government.

As Treasury went through a rough patch, the government turned to parastatals to help ease the burden by releasing extra cash from their coffers — as a special dividend.

Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) became the first parastatal to hand over its cash by paying Sh5 billion to Treasury.

Bamburi Cement

Bamburi Cement was established in 1951 but commenced operations in 1954 under French giants Lafarge Holcim with several products to its name. It is located in Mombasa but its head offices are in Nairobi.

It’s the leading cement manufacturer and supplier in Kenya. Currently, Bamburi Cement is worth Sh42.8 billion, with over 800 employees working in different sectors of production.

It has consistently built trust by providing quality products to all its customers in the country.

Increase in construction projects in the country has led to significant growth of Bamburi cement.

The company exports its products to countries like Madagascar, Seychelles, Congo, Sri Lanka, among other countries.

Kenya Ports Authority

Kenya Ports Authority is a State corporation with the responsibility to “maintain, operate, improve and regulate all scheduled seaports” on the Indian Ocean coastline of Kenya, including principally Kilindini Harbour at Mombasa.

The 2018-2047 Master Plan, which was unveiled by Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, will see the development strategy for the major ports, lake ports, small coastal ports and the Inland Container Depots.

This is an estimated total investment of $3.6 billion (Sh360 billion). In the same year, KPA container traffic grew to 1.3 million 20-foot Total Equivalent Units (TEUs).

The container volumes ferried by the SGR is projected to grow to 732,000 TEUs in 2022, 909,000 TEUs in 2027, 1.33 million TEUs in 2037 and 2.20 million TEUs in 2047.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) paid Sh18.7 billion as special dividends to the National Treasury last year which goes to show.


Kenya Electricity Generating Company or simply KenGen is the largest power producing company in Kenya, producing about 69 per cent of the electricity consumed in the country. KenGen has its tentacles spread across six operation areas – Olkaria and Eburru, Western Region, Kipevu, Seven Forks (Eastern Region), Upper Tana and Ngong. At the Geothermal area along the Rift Valley, the company has power plants and Wellheads running as base load energy sources in Olkaria and Eburru. 

The area has installed capacity of 534MW. In 2006 the Government sold 30 per cent of its stake in the company following a successful Initial Public Offer.

Subsequently, KenGen was listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE). In line with the organisation’s strategic objectives, shareholders were given opportunity to exercise their rights in a successful rights issue in 2016. 

In 2018 Geothermal contributed significantly to both capacity and energy revenue. 

In the same year Profit after Tax increased by 308% from Sh2.826b to 11.517b propelled by capacity growth, improved performance, and tax credit from capital allowances enjoyed by the company.


This is a leading investment firm listed in the Nairobi Securities Exchange and Uganda Securities Exchange. 

Founded in 1967 as Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation Investments (ICDCI), it later rebranded to Centum Investment Company PLC (Centum) in 2008; Centum’s total assets exceed Sh66 billion ($655 Million) as at 31st March 2018. 

Centum continues to provide investors with access to a portfolio of inaccessible, quality, diversified investments. 

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