From 2 Hens to Owning a Bank, The Life of Nelson Muguku

  • A photo of Nelson Muguku Twitter
  • By the time he died, Nelson Muguku, was the largest individual shareholder of Equity Bank, but this was not always the case as his most valuable possession in the 1950s was a bicycle.

    Born in 1932, in Kanyariri Village located in Kikuyu Division of Kiambu District, Muguku, learnt entrepreneurship skills from his father, the late Njoroge.

    His journey to become a multi-billionaire started when he quit his college teaching job, while still in his 20s, with just Ksh 2,000, two hens and one cock.

    Chicks hatched at the Muguku poultry farm in Kiambu
    Chicks hatched at the Muguku poultry farm in Kiambu

    Muguku resigned from the job against the wishes of his parents and the ridicule of his white boss.

    He started rearing chicken with the help of his father for the first six months and it is at this time he married his wife, Leah Wanjiku, who was then a teacher at Kagaa Primary School in Githunguri.

    In 1963, Wanjiku quit her teaching job to join her husband in poultry farming.

    By 1965, he was a little well off and was able to a buy 22-acre farm, Star Ltd, for Ksh 100,000 from a white veterinary doctor. He then started a hatchery with a 9,000-egg incubator. Muguku later renamed the farm Muguku Poultry Farm.

    This is when he started reaping big and amassing wealth through the sale of day-old chicks and eggs.

    It was believed that at one time, he supplied the last Governor of the colonial era, Sir Malcolm MacDonald, and even Kenya’s first Prime Minister, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

    According to Muguku's younger brother, Professor Kihumbu Thairu, Muguku ploughed back his profits. By the time of his death, he owned a computerised egg hatching incubator — one of the best in the region.

    The hatchery comprised four state-of-the-art incubators, with a capacity to produce more than 500,000 chicks a day. “He was reading the manual, operating it and maintaining it until his death,” Thairu stated.

    Besides employing hundreds of youths on his expansive farm, the old man had a great record of philanthropy and community development.

     Ksh 3 billion  Karen Waterfront shopping complex  also owned by the family of the late billionaire poultry farmer Nelson Muguku
    Ksh 3 billion Karen Waterfront shopping complex also owned by the family of the late billionaire poultry farmer Nelson Muguku

    He established two primary schools, Kikuyu Township and Kidfarmaco as well as a high school - the former Greenacres School - at Red Hill off Limuru Road and renamed it Tumaini School.

    Muguku and his wife had seven children.

    He died on the night of October 10, 2010, after becoming unconscious soon after a telephone conversation with his youngest son who lived in the US.

    Kihumbu Thairu, brother of  Nelson Muguku, the founder of Muguku Poultry Farm in Kikuyu
    Kihumbu Thairu, brother of Nelson Muguku, the founder of Muguku Poultry Farm in Kikuyu