Billionaire Form 4 Leaver Behind Prestigious Hillcrest Schools in Nairobi

  • An image of the entrance to Hillcrest Secondary School in Nairobi County.
    An image of the entrance to Hillcrest Secondary School in Nairobi County.
    File
  • All over the world, very few billionaires have created a fortune for themselves and their families by investing in education

    Unlike many who have ventured into business, technology, and manufacturing among other industries, Sunny Varkey has built his empire by investing in education.

    Born to K.S. and Mariamma Varkey, Indian immigrants who then moved to Dubai, Varkey started teaching at Our Own English High School, a school which had been founded by his parents and offered English language education in the Arab country.

    A file image of GEMS Educations Schools Founder Sunny Varkey.
    A file image of GEMS Educations Schools Founder Sunny Varkey.
    File

    At the time, he was 23 years old and had just completed his Form Four studies. Through his leadership, the school expanded and later grew to the GEMS education schools and expanded to other countries.

    GEMS owns over 80 schools including the prestigious Hillcrest International School in Nairobi's upmarket Karen estate, which it acquired in 2019.

    Hillcrest was founded in 1965 by Dorothy Noad and Frank Thompson and offers the British Curriculum. The institution charges between Ksh850,000 to Ksh1.1 million per term in school fees.

    "We are delighted to announce that we are now a GEMS Education School. We are confident that this will positively impact the school to the great benefit of our children, parents, and staff.

    “GEMS Education is a family-owned education provider, headquartered in Dubai, with a track record in the education field spanning 60 years," read a statement by Hillcrest at the time of acquisition.

    Among prominent persons who have attended the prestigious school include media personality Edith Kimani.

    From his investments in schools located in Asia, Europe, and America, Varkey has made fortunes running into billions of shillings. 

    According to Forbes, Varkey's net worth is estimated at Ksh147 billion and is ranked at position 2,141 in the list of the richest people in the world

    Apart from owning schools, the billionaire started the prestigious Global Teacher Prize Award, which went to teacher Peter Tabichi in the year 2019.

    Winners receive over Ksh100 million as the award is aimed at recognising teachers who have made remarkable contributions to the teaching profession.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta with teacher Peter Mokaya Tabichi, the 2019 Global Teacher Prize winner when he called on him at State House, Nairobi.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta with teacher Peter Mokaya Tabichi, the 2019 Global Teacher Prize winner when he called on him at State House, Nairobi.
    PSCU