Kenya: 5 Kenyan Millionaires who came from humble backgrounds

Kenya is home to over 3,300 millionaires.
According to the 2022 Knight Frank wealth report, the number of self-made dollar millionaires increased by 39 to 3,362 in 2021.
The survey indicated that ultra-high net worth individuals (with a net worth of over Sh 3.4 billion) reduced by two 88 during the period under review.
During the release of the report, Knight Frank Wealth Report editor Andrew Shirley said he knew Kenyans for their tough resilience in running successful businesses.
“I have always been impressed by the high level of entrepreneurship in Kenya, having lived in Kenya before. You can see people creating money virtually out of nothing. Fortunes start from small seeds,” he said.
1. James Mwangi
James Mwangi is the managing director and chief executive officer of Equity Group Holdings Ltd.
The career banker grew up in Nyagatugu, a small village near the Aberdare ranges.
Mwangi was a goat herder in his early life and this shaped his world.
“I am a product of my upbringing and it has had a significant influence on how I see things today…my village of Nyagatugu was not enough to say that I conquered Africa,” he told Forbes. 
Equity CEO James Mwangi was a goat herder. Photo: Equity Group Holdings Ltd/Facebook.
He joined Equity in 1993 when it was still named Equity Building Society (EBS). He was then working as the financial controller for the defunct Trade Bank Group.
At the time, the company was in near collapse and its founder Peter Munga had tapped Mwangi to rescue it.
Mwangi has since steered Equity into one of the largest lenders with subsidiaries in Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.
The group recorded a Sh 11.4 billion profit in the first quarter of 2022.
2. Simon Kabu
Simon Kabu is the founder and chief executive officer of Bonfire Adventures.
Kabu built the travel and tour company from scratch having come from a humble background in Mukurweini, Nyeri where he spent most of his early life walking barefoot.
Kabu worked as a matatu tout and later a driver to make ends meet. He launched his business with his wife Sarah after the experience.
Bonfire Adventures boss Simon Kabu and his wife Sarah. They built the company from scratch. Photo: Simon Kabu/Facebook.
3. Manu Chandaria
Comcraft Group of Companies boss Manu Chandaria was born on March 1, 1929.
His father was an Indian merchant who migrated to Kenya in 1915 in search of greener pastures.
After Chandaria’s father opened a small shop along Biashara Stree in Nairobi, he helped him manage it.
Chandaria later went to school and gained skills on running the family business.
He obtained his master’s degree in engineering from the University of Oklahoma in the United States.
When he came back to Kenya in 1951, he ran the Comcraft Group of Companies which had expanded from a small shop.
The company is worth over Sh 269.5 billion.
4. Samuel Kamau Macharia (SK Macharia)
SK Macharia is one of rising from grass to grace. The soft-spoken media mogul was born to peasant parents in 1942 in Ndakaini, Murang’a county.
His breakthrough came when he secured a Kennedy Airlifts scholarship in 1962. In 1969, he returned to Kenya and worked in the Jomo Kenyatta government before venturing into business.
He established Madhupaper International Kenya Limited in 1979 to manufacture tissue paper.
However, it was placed under receivership by the Moi regime.
Macharia launched Royal Media Services in 1990. Under his watch, it has expanded to three TV stations and over 14 radio stations.
5. Tabitha Karanja
Tabitha and her husband Joseph Karanja founded Keroche in 1997 with Sh 500,000, drawn from savings of a small hardware shop they owned.
Keroche founder Tabitha Karanja speaks at a past event. Photo: Tabitha Karanja/Facebook.
Keroche which is embroiled in a tax dispute with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is the second-largest alcoholic beverages brewer in Kenya.
The company manufactures brands such as summit lager, summit malt and crescent dry gin.

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