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YEAR ENDER: The entrepreneurs who made headlines in 2018




Branch Restaurant CEO Joab Okeya (right) with chef Isaac Mulinge at the Branch outlet Kenya Cinema on January 5, 2017. DIANA NGILA | NMG  

The year 2018 bore mixed fortunes for businesses in Kenya, with some closing down due to tough operating environment occasioned by a myriad of reasons including increased power prices and punitive tax regimes.

But all was not doom as some enterprising Kenyans took the road less travelled by building businesses; which opened-up opportunities for them to mint profit. The inventive Kenyans built enterprises that provide solutions or satisfy needs to most pressing issues facing Kenyans.

They are listed below in order of prominence, where the top attracted the most online readership.

Ex-Ranalo chef launches Sh30 million restaurant

Joab Okeya’s story is that of servant-turned master thanks to what he attributes to patience and humility. For nine years, he was cooking at Ranalo Foods, popularly known as Kosewe, on the busy Kimathi Street in Nairobi.

Ranalo stands out for its traditional dishes, a niche that has seen it get clients from all walks of life. Like Kosewe, The Branch’s menu is also African and traditional: Athola (roasted beef stew), fish, chicken, ugali and veggies. Fast foods like chips, sausages, and samosas are also available.

Clothes seller lands a fortune at Kibera’s Toi

The mitumba industry sustains approximately 121,000 direct and 27,000 indirect jobs, according to 2017 research by the USAID on the second-hand clothes market; and Emma Wairimu Kamotho is one of them.She thus decided to start selling clothes with Sh2,500 capital, but today she makes Sh300,000 profit a month. The mother of three says she plans to visit international exhibitions such as in China where she can import new stock.

Sh5,000 monthly savings add up to multi-million real estate business

After graduating from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, five students joined hands to form a savings scheme where each contributed Sh5,000 a month. Computer scientists Samuel Njenga and Joseph Mwaniki as well their three colleagues completed their studies in December 2002 and graduated in March 2003. They resolved to start the savings scheme as a way of getting in touch. They never however anticipated that this decision would end up becoming a serious venture that is now worth about Sh500 million.

Ex-Nakumatt staff start new life with own Kisumu supermarket

When trouble started at former giant retailer Nakumatt, many people were affected. Many people lost jobs. But amid the turbulence, seven former employees from the supermarket’s branches in Kisumu saw an opportunity. They did not count their losses or lament. They resigned, pooled resources and decided to establish a supermarket in the region. The seven, who are directors of their new outfit, were Nakumatt managers in Kisumu, Kisii and TRM.

My journey to Sh80m real estate enterprise started at university

Cash is always in short supply for many university students and saving is the last thing on their minds. However, Moses Muriithi went against the grain and started saving to raise capital for a real estate business when he was a third-year student at Kenyatta University. Mr Muriithi dreamt of going into business straight from university and he was determined to raise capital at all costs. That he saved part of the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) credit is a testimony to his burning desire to realise this ambition.

I quit banking to deliver parcels from America

William Anguka was working in a bank when his childhood friend William Brian called him on phone requesting him to deliver a gift from America to someone in Kenya. Mr Anguka, who had been working at the Kenya Commercial Bank for nine years, hardly anticipated his goodwill gesture would lead to an enterprise that would be worth Sh6 million in just two years. It all started in mid-2015 when “Brayo” as Brian was then popularly known within his Kileleshwa neighbourhood, called Mr Anguka. Soon they struck a deal where Kenyans in the US could send items home through Mr Anguka at a fee.

Entrepreneur’s long journey to being own boss

From a young age, Shaun Bukusi always wanted to be an entrepreneur. But since he had been told business requires a lot of money, he thought the only way to achieve his dream was through a well-paying job.

“Straight after my high school studies at Aga Khan Academy in 2005, I went to the Kenya School of Flying where I obtained a private pilot licence. I had been told pilots earn a lot of money, which I figured out would help me start a business. However, I had a deal with my mother to pursue IT at the United States International University-Africa,” he says.

Nyeri duo finds gold in heaps of Sh1,000 electronic waste

Edward Waithaka rummages through heaps of garbage in a dumpsite searching for electrical devices one might find useless. But for one and half years, the 35-year-old has been doing the same thing focused on landing reusable devices.

The Moi University electrical engineering graduate drew his inspiration from a long search of a white-collar job that did not bear fruit. From his small shop in Tetu Constituency, Nyeri County, he has made his name as the go-to-guy as people try to make an extra coin through selling old electronics.

Online platform connects lenders with borrowers

A money-lending online platform launched in Kenya last month has attracted 3,000 loanees and 22,000 mobile app downloads. Ubapesa, founded by George Wasike, Gordon Ochieng, Ronald Mutuku and an anonymous funder, has been offering online short-term loans mainly to civil servants and owners of small businesses, who require urgent cash to meet immediate needs. Mr Wasike, who is the Ubapesa chief executive, says they discovered a major opportunity for Kenyan depositors to lend money on a reliable platform.

Ambitious staff sets up thriving real estate consultancy

Paul Kinoti built his real estate consultancy in Mombasa, starting off as a waged employee to an entrepreneur of no mean repute. He is director of Avanti Corps Limited Consultants which deals in the lucrative housing business in the Coast region.