Simon Gicharu Biography
Simon Gicharu was born in 1964 in Gathiruini village, in Kiambu County. He is an educationalist, founder and chairman of Mount Kenya University.
Mount Kenya University is the first indigenous chartered university in Kenya that has no church support like most private institutions. It is the only institution of higher learning in the country to be developed by an individual from a youth movement, Youth Finance Entrepreneurship Assistance, launched by the then Planning Minister Kirugi M’Mukindia in 1993.
Simon Gicharu Education Background
1995 – 1995: Undergraduate student at Cranfield University, Managing Enterprise Development
1987 – 1990: Undergraduate student at Kenyatta University,Bachelor’s degree, Double Mathematics
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Secondary School student at Gathiruini Secondary School.
Primary School Student at Kiawairia Primary School.
Simon Gicharu Mount Kenya Establishment
The British Council awarded him a one-year scholarship to study entrepreneurship at Cranﬁeld University in the UK in 1996. It was while in Britain that the idea of establishing a university crossed his mind. “| was touched by the suffering of Kenyans pursuing higher education there (Iin the UK) as they struggled to work, learn and live in a foreign country. I told myself that when I go back home, I will embark on setting up a university but I did not know how.“
A year later, he returned to Kenya and found himself jobless having been ﬁred by the Teachers Service Commission. He approached the Meru Farmers Cooperative Union to be its distributor for the Mount Kenya Processed Milk. He borrowed some money from his father who also gave an old pick-up. Times were hard but the support of his wife, Jane Nyutu, then a teacher at Mang’u High School, gave him the impetus he needed. She housed him at the school compound and later allowed him to sell their family rental house to raise money to build a school. As he distributed milk, Gicharu went back to organizing communities.
He helped to found the Enterprise Partners Clubs and got some money through Family Finance. The money was put into training and soon the programme grew in popularity, becoming Ngumbato Savings Initiative. He started a computer outreach programme through churches to offer training in business management skills. He also visited many countries, among them Britain, France, Italy, Panama, Holland and Spain, meeting youth groups. Why can’t we Kenyans work hard and be like these developed countries? He kept asking himself.
Back home, Gicharu started Thika School of Management Studies after subleasing a classroom in a building in Thika. As the institution grew, he acquired a piece of land, moved the college to its present location, renamed it Thika Institute of Technology and Mount Kenya University in 2008 when it was awarded a Letter of Interim Authority to operate as a university. In January 2011, the university received a Charter from President Mwai Kibaki. Gicharu’s dream is to develop Mount Kenya University to be the Harvard University of Africa…an institution that will outlive him and generations to come.
To date, it is the first private university in Kenya to offer degrees in clinical medicine, pharmacy and medical laboratory sciences among others. The MBchB curriculum is now fully approved by the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board. The university plans to invest over Ksh3OO million to develop Thika Level-5 Hospital to a teaching, research and referral hospital.
Simon Gicharu Entrepreneurship
He established Kenya Entrepreneurship Promotion Programmee (KEPP), which provided micro-loans and training to young entrepreneurs. His seed capital was only Ksh20,000 (US$220).
KEPP later started offering training in computers and changed its name to Thika School of Management Studies (TSMS), with introduction of Management courses.
Gradually, TSMS increased its student enrollment and the number of courses. The type of courses it offered was determined by the job demands of the day and with the explosion in use of information science and technology, TSMS changed its name to Thika Institute of Technology (TIT) in 2003.
That same year, Dr. Gicharu, resolved that Science training would be the backbone of TIT. He made a blind trip to India, on scanty information that at the Punjab State, they were assembling Science equipment in cottage industries that was relatively affordable. Dr. Gicharu immediately purchased the equipment. TIT was the first private college in Kenya to be accredited to offer the Diploma programme in Pharmacy.
Simon Gicharu Awards
October 2014: Doctor of Science, Gulu University, Uganda
- He received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science for his contribution to expansion of higher education in the East African region.
2013: 1st Order Chief of Burning Spear by his Excellency the President of Kenya
- It was in recognition of his contribution to the spreading access to higher education in Kenya.
2012: Superlative Trailblazer,Marketing Society of Kenya
- Award given in recognition of Marketing Skills.
2010: Outstanding Alumni Award of Kenyatta University
- For being the institution’s only alumni to have established a university.
2014 Ernst & Young Eastern Africa Entrepreneur of the Year
Simon Gicharu Board Membership
- Starting 2015: Chairman, Board of Directors, Rural Electrification Authority
- Starting 2015: Chairman for Private Universities Owners Association
- Starting 2015: Board Member, Thika Water and Sewerage Company
- Starting 2015: Patron of Inter-Universities Rover Moot (Kenya National Scouts Association)
Simon Gicharu Publication
September 19, 2012: Entrepreneurship in a Global Economy,
- The key ingredients of success in entrepreneurship tend to be ecumenical; theyare of worldwide scope and applicability.
1996: Applied Mathematics for Craft Engineering, Jomo Kenyatta Foundation
Simon Gicharu Family, Wife and Children
Simon Gicharu is married to Judy Nyutu with three children.
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