Chris Kirubi Biography
Chris Kirubi is a Kenyan businessman, entrepreneur, industrialist and philanthropist. He is a Director at Centum Investment Company Limited, a business conglomerate, in which he is the largest individual shareholder. He was born in 1941.
Chris Kirubi is the chairman and a shareholder of Haco Tiger Brands (a joint venture with Tiger Brands SA, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange). He is also CEO of Capital FM and holds large equity stakes in Nairobi Stock Exchange listed investment firm Centum, UAP Insurance and the Kenyan franchise of DHL. Furthermore, he is a shareholder in Nairobi Bottlers, a bottling franchise for Coca-Cola.
Chris Kirubi Early Life
Chris Kirubi was born poor, lost both parents very early, and had to start working during school holidays to supplement the needs of his brothers and himself. Upon graduation, he worked for Shell, as a salesman, selling and repairing gas cylinders. According to him, the pennies he earned from this job could not have bought anyone dinner.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, Kirubi worked as an Administrator at Kenatco, a government-owned transportation company. Starting around 1971, he began buying run-down buildings in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, renovating them and either selling the renovated structures or renting them out. He also began acquiring strategic pieces of land in and around Nairobi, and proceeded to erect rental residential and commercial properties on them, using loans from Kenyan financial institutions.
His foray into real estate property development was timely and strategic, and he made a killing. He is one of Kenya’s wealthiest businessmen with a fortune estimated at $300 million, and also one of the richest men in Africa. His property management company, International House Limited (IHL), owns and manages various residential and commercial buildings in Nairobi and he owns Nairobi’s landmark International House building, one of the city’s longest standing and most prestigious commercial properties.
Chris Kirubi Wealth
Chris Kirubi has learned much since he acquired his first dilapidated property in the early 1970s. He now counts among his real estate holding Nairobi’s iconic International House building (home to his office) and, through his property holding company
House Limited, 40 other residential and commercial properties across the city, valued at more than $200 million. Add his other assets and Kirubi is worth a conservative $300 million, placing him at number 31 on Forbes’ inaugural list of Africa’s 40 Richest.
Yet he is somewhat modest about his success. “People say I am one of the richest people in Kenya, but that’s not my concern. I mean, they say I am a god of sorts, but I don’t agree,” he says with a smile. “When I look around at my companies and see the number of people we have employed, it gives me joy. It is more satisfying than having all the money in the world.” Through his various enterprises, including International House, Tiger Haco Industries, Capital FM and DHL Kenya, he employs close to 1,000 people.
Chris Kirubi – Haco Industries
In 1998 Chris Kirubi acquired for an undisclosed sum 100% of Haco Industries, a Kenyan subsidiary of a Dutch trading house. Kirubi expanded the company from a distributor of American and British brands to a leading indigenous manufacturer of consumer products, including TCB and Palmers, the bestselling hair and skin care products in the country. In 2008 Haco formed a joint venture with Tiger Brands, one of South Africa’s largest food manufacturers. Revenues of Haco Tiger Industries were in excess of $33 million in 2010. It employs close to 700 people.
“In a way, I feel like I am a part of every Kenyan’s life. 95% of all Kenyans or anyone who comes to Kenya has at one time or the other used a product that is manufactured by me.”
The company does make everyday items like the Bic pen I bought to take notes, as well as razors, lighters, baby food, stationery and bleach.
Chris Kirubi – Capital FM
In 1998 he purchased Capital FM, a floundering local radio station. “I didn’t just want to acquire the station solely for the financial dividends it was eventually going to give me; I wanted to love the business,I wanted to understand the business from the very basics. So I approached the managers and told them that I wanted to host a rock radio show. I asked them to teach me how to become a Disc Jockey.”
Kirubi not only learned how to disc jockey, he also began hosting a weekly rock show on the station. The public went wild. Ratings shot through the roof. The station is now the largest in Kenya in terms of listenership – over three million people tune in every day, and it has outshone the competition for several years running.
Chris Kirubi – Centum Investment
Chris Kirubi holds the largest individual stake in Centum Investments, a private equity firm listed both on the Nairobi and Uganda stock exchanges with a recent market capitalization of $92 million. Centum has one of the most attractive investment portfolios in the region, including substantial stakes in Coca-Cola, Safaricom (Kenya’s leading telecoms company) and Kenyan Commercial Bank.
Chris Kirubi – UAP Insurance
Chris Kirubi is also the largest individual shareholder in UAP Insurance, east Africa’s third largest insurance company.
Chris Kirubi Net Worth – Building on a Property Foundation
That journey began with property development. Chris Kirubi owns one of Kenya’s most iconic buildings, the International House in Nairobi – namesake and headquarters of International House Limited, his property investment firm. “Property was one of the easiest things to try to get into,” Kirubi explains. “Properties were not expensive as they are now. Today in Kenya it is almost impossible to buy. Back then, if you had a friend in the bank to support you it was easy to buy these assets. I used to buy neglected properties, do them up and flog them in the market. It was an area that there were not many people involved in, and it was a very profitable venture.”
“I was asked by a company to partner with them in manufacturing writing implements and was also trading with a Dutch company. But I got involved with the Dutch company because the MD stayed in one of my properties. We got to know each other and became good friends. With International House, I worked for [the insurance company that was headquartered there]. I used to sell policies and when they decided to close down their offices in Kenya, they offered me the opportunity to buy the building and supported me in talking to the banks and off we went. So property was always the foundation.
From there, Chris Kirubi built a diversified empire, and recalls only one defeat – a paint industries business. But even on the topic of failure, Chris Kirubi is characteristically upbeat. “I didn’t understand the routes to market and couldn’t gain ground against the giants in the sector. But I learnt: you fail, you get up and you walk. You move on. I had the proceeds from the assets and some land that I still hold, so it wasn’t a total disaster,” he says.
His successes have been plentiful and on this point Chris Kirubi can afford to be a little philosophical. “Success for me is not enumerated in wealth,” he says. “I have come to discover that money and material things are never quite sufficient; the goal post always shifts when you get there.” He returns to his typical pragmatism: “Success means being able to accomplish the goals I have set out for myself. If, for example, I have a goal to build a state-of-the art property, success comes in small doses. It is in seeing the milestones we have achieved with completion of every construction step and finally being able to open up the building for occupation. More so, it extends to having a 100-percent occupancy rate of satisfied clients. When that happens, I can say I feel successful in that angle.”
His biggest success, he believes, was his transition from a position of poverty to that of employer, shepherding himself ”from the very poor world to a world where I am able to create jobs and create opportunities” for fellow Kenyans. “My success is Kenya’s success. I have lots of people working for me in the various companies I have. From being poor, I am now a job creator, creating lives for other people.”
Chris Kirubi Wealth – Managed Interventions
Chris Kirubi has developed a reputation for turning around failing businesses, Capital FM being an exemplary case. “Capital FM was almost dead. They were not paying their bills, the staff was demotivated. It was struggling in the market place,” Kirubi says. “But I saw an opportunity. I realised that what was missing was focused management. The company was concentrating on a narrow band of expat listenership.”
The beleaguered radio station might not have seemed a viable investment to many, but to Kirubi it was an opportunity. “I like buying things that are not well managed and turning them round, because I know the one thing I can put into a business is management. Within a few years, we turned it around, widened the base of listenership, brought in younger Kenyans to be presenters and I myself went on air – I got involved to make sure that people had contact with me.”
The opportunity was two fold. “I really thank Capital very much because I had lots of products to promote and I was paying a lot of money in advertising. So I thought, why don’t I buy the media itself?” he says jovially, before adding on a serious note: “It became my life. When you get into media, it’s hard to get out.”
Chris Kirubi Wealth – A Diversified Portfolio
How has he managed to build success in so many diverse sectors? “Regardless of the sector, being successful requires first and foremost that you understand your market,” he answers. “When I first got into media, I faced numerous challenges in trying to understand the market, its needs, the skills required and the peculiarities of the industry. I had to do my research and practically submerge myself in the industry by becoming a DJ in order to understand the market. Only then could I make proper and effective decisions.”
Knowing your market is just one item on a shopping list of attributes and virtues that Kirubi feels help create success. “You need to have a vision, be passionate about it, build a credible brand and have tenacity, especially when the trials seem to be more than the successes,” he advises. “Obviously this list is not exhaustive but success requires you to put in hard work.”
Chris Kirubi Wealth – Going Social
His involvement in Capital FM took Kirubi into the brave new world of digital media, which has captured him completely. “This to me is a very exciting world. I have an average of three million hits a day on Capital FM. The future is new media. It is instant, it is specific and everybody can talk to everybody else. New media is very fast. You are not waiting for news at 10 at night,” he says. “Businesses have to change. They have to see communication as a major issue. They have to understand who is saying what about them, and to be aware of negatives and correct them, or their businesses will disappear beneath them without them knowing what is going on. [New media] has brought customers to the forefront. People have the power now to communicate.”
Kirubi’s use of social media and his show on Capital, which he presents as DJ CK, have raised his public profile as an outspoken advocate for entrepreneurism and entrepreneurs. His Twitter account (@CKirubi) has over 100,000 followers, many of whom use the hashtag #AskKirubi to solicit his guidance.
Chris Kirubi Wealth – Entrepreneurial Flair
“Yes, I engage with many aspiring entrepreneurs. In fact, I have always advocated for self employment as a means to curb the skyrocketing unemployment levels in Kenya. Young people shouldn’t just wait to get absorbed into the formal employment sector but must look at alternative ways of generating income,” Kirubi says.
According to Chris Kirubi, the issues that keep young entrepreneurs awake at night include cash flow, access to financing, competition in the market and the market’s relative demand for their offerings. At least, those are the issues they frequently ask him about. “What I always assure them is that for the most part, there is nothing new under the sun. Your proposition is not a ‘eureka’ one. It is more likely an offshoot of an old solution adapted to evolving challenges. As such, many other people have gone before you and encountered the same problems. One of the best ways to counter these problems is to get a business mentor and if possible, allow yourself to be incubated until you feel you can stand on your own two feet.”
Online mentoring allows Chris Kirubi to combine two of his passions: entrepreneurism and Kenyan youth. “There is much that I do behind the scenes but I remain most passionate about young people,” he says. “In fact, I have made it my life’s mission to belong to them. For me this means understanding how young people think, what matters to them and seeing how best I can influence positive change. The truth is that ‘youth’ remains a most sought-after commodity – but it is also a very trying time because they have not quite concretised their identity. I am passionate about inspiring them to become who they want to be, in line with what matters to them. There are no limits to what they can perceive and consequently achieve.”
Chris Kirubi looks to global business icons for his own inspiration. “I am inspired by successful moguls like Richard Branson and Donald Trump,” he says. “These are individuals who are able to overcome their own personal hurdles, actively seek out new territories to conquer and actually excel despite others not believing in them. They are unconventional in their thinking and lifestyle, take huge risks and as a result have created huge empires from their personal brands. I identify most with them but I am also very driven. In my personal life, I am inspired by my family and the fact that I have this talent, for which I must be an excellent steward. I do not take my abilities for granted.”
Chris Kirubi Wealth – Where to Next?
Motivated by his ongoing opportunity to transform Kenya’s economic landscape, Chris Kirubi says he wakes up every day and asks himself what he can do to make his country the place of his dreams. “As a member of the original team tasked with putting together Vision 2030, I was inspired by the possibilities of what we could become, and this vision still motivates me to date. I want to be at the centre of positive change in Kenya, regionally and beyond. I want the world to know that when something good happens in Africa, it is not by accident. We have put in more than a fair share of personal and collective effort. It is Africa’s turn to rise and shine.”
Chris Kirubi Family; Wife and Children
Chris Kirubi Daughter – Mary Ann Musangi
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Billionaire Chris Kirubi’s daughter Mary Ann Musangi has been named to the seven-member board of K-Rep Bank, a move seen to entrench the family’s presence in the lower-tier financial institution.
Ms Musang’s appointment could be interpreted as part of the emerging corporate culture of enhancing family presence in influential positions, which is aimed at softening decision-making and safeguarding family interests.
K-Rep is over 67 per cent owned by Centum Investments where Mr Kirubi controls a majority shareholding at almost 30 per cent.
Ms Musangi, a graduate from the UK’s University of Surrey, brings to the financial institution over 15 years of corporate experience, most of which was earned in the banking industry.
Chris Kirubi Contacts – Facebook and Twitter
Chris Kirubi My life
Dr. Chris Kirubi, businessman and entrepreneur, and his vast, fast-growing business portfolio represent the sheer scale and variety of opportunities for global businesses in Kenya.
As someone who built his infinite empire from a modest upbringing, Dr. Chris Kirubi is known for not walking away from a challenge but is best described as a man who aims for the galaxy. His multinational corporate empire started in the early 1970s as Dr. Kirubi discovered his niche in the real estate sector. He began purchasing old buildings and overhauling them for sale or rent. Now his corporate empire shapes sectors and ranges across leading industries such as manufacturing, real estate, investment, energy, and media amongst many others.
The top businessman has defied convention in many ways. He has established multinational brand companies, using his multi-sector expertise to create the homegrown Haco Tiger brands, Centum Investment and Capital FM – one of Kenya’s favourite radio stations.
Dr. Chris Kirubi drive for excellence saw him expand Haco industries from a distributor of American and British brands to a leading indigenous manufacturer of consumer products in East Africa. Soon afterwards, Chris Kirubi formed a joint venture with Tiger Brands, one of South Africa’s largest food manufacturers to establish Haco Tiger brands, the sole manufacturer and distributor of hair, skin, home and food products such as Miadi, Palmers, Bloo Acticlean, Beacon Chocolates as well as Bic pens; alongside many other household names.
As one of the main speakers at the recent Kenya International Investment Conference, Dr. Kirubi thrives with challenges and is a strong believer of hard work and healthy competition as a means to creating environments conducive to sustained business growth.
“There will always be challenges but what is most important is how you overcome them,” he notes, adding that: “This is where ‘the rubber meets the road’ and you have got to know what to do.”
As an entrepreneur, Dr. Kirubi believes in empowering businessmen and women through sharing opportunities, with determination being the key ingredient in his own success story.
This year’s KIICO, the theme of which was “Think Investment, Make it Kenya” offered a platform to international, regional and domestic investors to consider business opportunities across various sectors of the Kenyan economy. The conference highlighted Kenya’s strategic role as a centre for doing business with the rest of the world and provided a forum for investors, policymakers and businessmen, including Dr. Kirubi, to build a narrative on ways to enhance the business climate.
It is clear that Dr. Chris Kirubi is a force to reckon with – he says that, “when working with me, it is either you go big or go home.” He continues to prove his words in action by one of his latest projects, Two Rivers Mall – an extraordinary project set to become on of the largest lifestyle mall in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Two rivers will be an urban realm that interconnects the public space with the retail centre and sits on 100 acres of land that has been sub-divided to accommodate commercial, residential, hospitality, entertainment as well as lifestyle spaces,” he says.
The host at Capital FM added that Africa has become a focal point of global interest for investors and Kenya in particular, due its status as the gateway to East Africa and remains the destination of choice for not only investments in the country but for investors looking to explore other Eastern African markets.
“KIICO was a top opportunity for investors to meet and interact with business owners,” said Dr. Kirubi. He added that, through Kenya’s position as the business hub of the region, the Government has identified energy as one of the infrastructural enablers of the three pillars of Vision 2030, with an expected surge in energy use within the commercial sector on the road to 2030.
A major investor himself, Dr. Chris Kirubi is converting continued interest in business projects in Kenya into action – along with thousands of global companies, which combined, have doubled FDI into the country in 2014 compared to 2013, with investment amounting to $1.2 billion, according to the African Development Bank. Recognizing opportunities within the energy sector – a key focus for KIICO 2015 – Dr. Kirubi advances plans for the $300 million Akiira geothermal power plant in the Rift Valley county of Nakuru, which is expected to generate 140MW.
“We are going to have enough power to accommodate investors who come to establish factories to convert raw material to used goods. As we are part of COMESA, we need to take advantage of this and be the source of all the products produced in our common market.”
Chris Kirubi Photo
Chris Kirubi House
Chris Kirubi House is located in Bernhard Estate, Nairobi. Here are some photos…
Chris Kirubi Mercedes Benz Maybach
Chris Kirubi first Kenyan to drive Sh40 million luxurious Maybach Benz
Businessman Chris Kirubi has coughed up more than Sh40 million, including taxes, for Kenya’s first Mercedes-Maybach Benz.
Kirubi’s luxury car is parked at the DT Dobie workshop in Industrial area, Nairobi. The vehicle is mostly used by heads of state in Europe.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class Maybach comes with two types of engines: the V8 and V12 with 4 MATIC.
According to online reviews, the V12 can produce a force of 830 NM in 1900 revolutions per minute, given a displacement of 5980cc. It has a power output of 530 KW.
Kirubi’s new baby can sprint from 0 to 100km/h in five seconds only. It has a top speed of 250km/h.
This machine saves on fuel consumption, using as low as 8.9 litres for 100km covered.
The Maybach is 5,453 mm long with a wheel base of 3,365mm.
Here are Pfotos of the Mercedes Benz Maybach that businessman Chris Kirubi has bought for more than Sh40 million.