Little Known Kenyan Billionaires

A file image of a mansion.
A file image of a mansion.

The words "humble" and "billionaire" may not seem like a natural pairing. However, these super-rich Kenyans have shunned the glitz and glamour in favour of living a more down-to-earth lifestyle. 

They may have bottomless bank accounts, but they go out of their way to maintain a low profile.

Here's a look at 7 of Kenya's richest who prefer to fly under the radar:

Swaleh Nguru -  Investments, Ranching, Real estate, Sisal

Awadh "Swaleh Nguru" Sherman is a Kenyan business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He is of Yemeni descent and started out from humble beginnings as a fishmonger selling Kingfish "Nguru".

Lawyers Michael Oloo, Samson Okongo, Mohammed Balala and Ali Taib during the hearing of Swaleh Nguru’s property case at the High Court in Mombasa on July 19, 2012
Lawyers Michael Oloo, Samson Okongo, Mohammed Balala and Ali Taib during the hearing of Swaleh Nguru’s property case at the High Court in Mombasa on July 19, 2012

Born and raised in Bondeni, Mombasa, Swaleh's father, Saleh, was a taxi driver, and he would from time to time help his father out. This led to Awadh's love for cars. At an early age, he set up a bicycle repair shop in Tudor, which later became Swaleh Nguru Garage. The garage was very popular with historical figures such as Jomo Kenyatta and Tom Mboya visiting the establishment.

He is of significant net worth and owns some of the largest ranches in Kenya. He is also recognized by the Government of Kenya and the United Nations for his philanthropic and conservational efforts around Kenya.

He passed away in the mid-1970s, leading to a prolonged court battle among his siblings over the billions he left behind.

Awadh married Dalila Juma on April 14, 1960. They lived in Kilifi, Mombasa, and led a simple life away from the public eye. Swaleh was an extremely reclusive billionaire, who did not like to be involved in politics. His family is known to be very philanthropic.

By the time he died, his net worth was estimated to be well over Ksh2.5 billion. At one point he owned a third of Mombasa Island, mainly the town of Majengo. He later subdivided the land into sub-plots and sold them.

John Kibunga Kimani - Stock Markets Guru

Identified as one of Kenya’s most prominent investors, in 2018, he pocketed Ksh80,000,000 after selling off more than 3 million shares of listed oil marketing company, Total Kenya.

He is renowned in Kenyan business circles for acquiring large blocks of shares in local blue-chip companies and holding them for the long term. 

His shares at Kakuzi PLC, a listed agricultural firm, are estimated to be well worth over Ksh2 billion.

File image of Nairobi Securities Exchange Market
File image of Nairobi Securities Exchange Market

The tycoon is also the largest individual shareholder in Nation Media Group, East Africa’s largest media conglomerate. He owns an estimated 1.8% of the listed firm, in addition to stakes in brewery giant East African Breweries Limited and mobile telecom outfit Safaricom. 

Kibunga is known to guard his privacy religiously and reportedly hates being photographed in public.

Amin Nanji Juma

Little is known about Amin Nanji Juma, but he is one of the wealthiest people on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. He owns 15,686,175 shares of East Africa’s media powerhouse, the Nation Media Group. 

With an estimated net worth of Ksh3.7 billion, Juma has been able to complete the herculean task of shunning the public eye almost entirely.

Abdulkadir Ghedi - Cement manufacture, Athi River Mining

The media-shy tycoon has an estimated net worth of Ksh8.7 billion, mostly stemming from his heavy investment in the construction industry.

Athi River Mining is one of his largest companies, raking in unprecedented profits over the last decades during which Kenya recorded the highest numbers in construction projects.

Paul Wanderi Ndung’u -  Mobicom, stake in Pevans East Africa (Sportpesa)

He was once ranked among the top 10 shareholders in Kenya Airways, Housing Finance, Olympia Capital and has interests in other listed firms.

Ndung’u has mostly stayed out of the public eye and opted to focus on his investments which range from forex bureaus to mobile phone dealerships, construction equipment and investment firms.

However, his role as Chairman of the betting firm Pevans East African, which owns Sportpesa, put him on the spotlight.

Paul Wanderi Ndung’u during an earlier interview.
Paul Wanderi Ndung’u during an earlier interview.

He has a 17% stake in the firm and is the fourth-largest shareholder.

Peter Muthoka - Acceler Global Logistics

When President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto secured a second term in office in October 2017, one of the first appointments they made was that of one Peter Muthoka, an astute businessman and investor.

His profile on the Institute of Directors Kenya (IOD Ke.) paints a picture of a businessman with vast networks, experience, wealth and education, some of the things that endeared him to President Uhuru.

His shares in publicly listed Kenyan companies alone are worth over Ksh4.5 billion.

Peter Muthoka.
Peter Muthoka.

He is the founder and CEO of Acceler Global Logistics, one of Kenya's largest freight and logistics companies. 

Pius Ngugi - Kenya Nut Company, Thika Coffee Mills

The business tycoon is worth an estimated Ksh3. 5 billion, with his major investment identified as Food Processing.

He owns the Kenya Nut Company which he founded in 1974.

Research shows that his company is presently the main exporter of macadamia nuts from Kenya and has over 2,500 employees.

In 2016, he made Ksh6 billion in revenue from exporting macadamia nuts from Kenya alone

Other companies he owns include Thika Coffee Mills, Kenya Alliance Insurance. Other interests include dairy farming, Amazon Motors, manufacture of sweets and winery.


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