What does it mean to be wealthy?
The 2019 Knight Frank wealth report lists 125 billionaires in Kenya, each worth more than Sh3 billion. Out of them, 25 are women. Some of the women made the billions on their own, while others inherited and expanded family fortunes, and prefer the inaudible background which does not distract them from their businesses. Here is a list of the least known of them.
An accountant, businesswoman, entrepreneur and corporate executive in Kenya, she serves as the group chief executive of the Samchi Group of Companies, a diverse Kenyan conglomerate, whose companies span telecommunications, microfinance, hospitality, real estate, restaurants and ICT.
She build the firm after recouping money from her initial investment as one of the early adopters of the Safaricom dealership network where she invested at a time Sim Cards were retailing for Sh2,500.
Wife to WPP Scangroup chief executive Bharat Thakar, Sadhna runs the Naiya Indian fashions, in addition to being a co-owner in her husband’s firm where they collectively own 13.8 per cent stake at the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm.
Jane Wangui Njuguna
Not many Kenyans will relate Wangui to Equity’s chief executive and managing director James Mwangi.
However, Mwangi’s wife is said to own 60 million shares or a 1.62 per cent stake in Equity valued at Sh3 billion based on the 2018 share price of Sh50.50, taking the family fortune to more than Sh12.15 billion and making it one of the largest family fortunes held in a single stock.
Together with the bank’s founder Peter Munga, the duo own 50:50 shares in Filimbi Ltd, an investment vehicle and one of the top shareholders in Britam Insurance.
Catherine Nyongesa Watta
Born in 1970, Catherine conquered the scientific world, excelling in the field of radiation oncology in 2005 with a master’s degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In 2010 after a stint as a consultant radiation oncologist at Kenyatta National Hospital, she decided to venture in entrepreneurship and together with her husband, a practicing pharmacist in the Houston-area, Texas, US, founded the multi-billion Texas Cancer Centre in Nairobi. It has more than 70 full-time staff, handling over 150 outpatients daily.
A banker turned educationist, Okello founded the prestigious Makini Group of Schools with her late husband, Pius Okello in 1978 under the name Riara Gardens Academy.
After overseeing its transformation into an Academy, she sold her 71 per cent stake in deal estimated at Sh1 billion in April 2018 to a UK investor Scholé Ltd and Advtech Ltd, a South African company with interests in education.
Also within the family’s vast business empire is AFBE, the first association of Family Business Enterprises in Kenya.
She is the daughter to Canon Jeremiah Awori, an Anglican clergyman and hails from a stellar family including former Vice President Moody Awori and Nelson Awori, the pioneer cardiologist in Kenya.
Leah Wanjiku Muguku
It is said behind every successful man lies a woman. This is the story of Wanjiku, wife to the late Nelson Muguku.
She left a teaching job in 1963 to help her late husband manage the Muguku Poultry farm, growing the business into a multi-billion venture enterprise, by supplying eggs to State House Nairobi, then occupied by the late President Jomo Kenyatta.
Wanjiku, who is listed as the representative of the late Muguku’s estate, holds a 0.9 per cent stake in Equity worth more than Sh1.6 billion.
In her stable also is the Sh3 billion ultra-modern Waterfront Mall located in Karen, Nairobi County.
Jane Wanjiru Michuki
Jane is a Kenyan lawyer, businesswoman and investor. She is the managing partner at Kimani and Michuki Advocates, a corporate law firm based in Nairobi whose client list includes Equity Group Holdings Ltd.
She is one of the largest female stockholder on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, with an estimated net worth of approximately $50 million (Sh5 billion), as of November 2014, making her one of the wealthiest people in Kenya.
Her 9.5 per cent stake at Britam is reported to be worth more than Sh4.5 billion, which she owns through Equity Holdings where she has a 44.4 per cent stake.
Little is known of Amarjeet, except that her husband Baloobhai Patel described as a serial stock market investor has enjoined her as a co-owner in his vast empire reported to be worth more than Sh3 billion.
Baloobhai’s portfolio of investments cuts across gas manufacturing, insurance and the banking sector.
The two have the single largest stake in Carbacid the leading supplier of food grade carbon dioxide used for carbonated beverages.
The Asiatic woman is valued at 1.2 million holding a stake of same amount in Carbacid.
Baloobhai also has interest in the hospitality industry, and owns the lavish Sankara Hotel in Westlands, Nairobi.
She is wife to former mayor of Nairobi, the late Dick Wathika. Wacera betted her way into the millionaires’ club courtesy of her 21 per cent ownership in SportPesa. SportPesa is an online-betting company which has operations in Africa and the UK.
According to Bloomberg, the firm was turning in Sh100 billion in annual revenue before it suspended operations in Kenya.
SportPesa in Kenya was owned and operated by Pevans East Africa, a company with shareholders from mostly Kenya, Bulgaria, and the US.
Lucy Mwiti and Faith Mwikali
The two women broke the glass-ceiling to earn their seats at the coveted table of the rich, signalling that Kenya’s patriarchal society that has traditionally concentrated wealth in the hands of men is beginning to change, when in 2017, Kenya Revenue Authority listed them among the top taxpayers, with an annual income that lies between Sh350 million and Sh1 billion.
This led to the Knight Frank recognising and classifying them among Kenya’s High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs).