Former PS Who Left 500k Job in US to Earn 7k in Kenya

  • Passengers alighting from a jet at JKIA File
  • Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Nairobi’s, Prof. Bitange Ndemo in a recent interview gave a revealing tale of his journey.

    While speaking to Yvonne Aoll (a journalist), the former Permanent Secretary (PS) opened up about his earlier struggles.

    Despite holding a Ph.D. in Industrial Economics, a Master’s in Business Administration, and a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, the regular Daily Nation columnist’s path has been one laden with unexpected turns.

    Coming from a poor family of 39 siblings, Ndemo had to learn to work hard at a young age.

    Former PS in ICT Ministry, Prof. Bitange Ndemo

    His academic excellence led him to the US, where he confessed to working and studying for close to 22 hours a day.

    The hard work finally paid off as he soon landed a job as a Cost Accountant, then worked his way to becoming a Senior Financial System’s Analyst, earning Ksh 500,000 every month.

    Ndemo revealed that it was at this point in his life that he deduced that switching from the US back to Kenya would be a walk in the park, given his in-demand skill-set, but he was in for a rude awakening.

    “I got here and no one had heard of my qualifications. No one. Nowhere. Completely. I couldn’t get a job until the University of Nairobi (UoN) advertised that they needed an Accounting System’s lecturer. That’s when I applied,” read an excerpt from his interview.

    It was while at UoN that Ndemo received Ksh 7,000 as salary, having started at the very bottom despite his qualifications.

    “Well, at the University of Nairobi, I started at the very bottom. I started as a tutorial fellow, and the salary was Ksh 7,000 per month,” he revealed to Yvonne.

    Prior, to the UoN job, the former PS revealed that he used to help a friend sell vegetables, a hustle which greatly infuriated his mother once she got wind of it.

    “I had been helping someone export vegetables to the US, and I was very comfortable doing it. Until someone else went and told my mother that her son is selling vegetables. And, Yvonne, let me tell you, it sounds very bad when said in vernacular. Very bad,” he divulged.

    “How can you be selling vegetables like you never went to school?” was his mother's question once she found out her son’s source of income.

    Prof. Ndemo started off as a tutorial fellow at the UoN

    Ndemo has since gone on to serve as a PS in the Ministry of Information and Communication from 2005 to 2013 under the former President Mwai Kibaki, and was awarded the prestigious presidential Chief of the Burning Spear of Kenya (CBS) award for his distinguished service in 2006.

    He was also appointed to head a 10-member taskforce on Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence by Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru, early last year.