A lead speaker at the recent Kenya International Investment Conference, Dr. Chris Kirubi, businessman and entrepreneur, and his vast, fast-growing business portfolio represent the sheer scale and variety of opportunities for global businesses in Kenya.
As someone who built his infinite empire from a modest upbringing, Dr. Chris Kirubi is known for not walking away from a challenge but is best described as a man who aims for the galaxy. His multinational corporate empire started in the early 1970s as Dr. Kirubi discovered his niche in the real estate sector. He began purchasing old buildings and overhauling them for sale or rent. Now his corporate empire shapes sectors and ranges across leading industries such as manufacturing, real estate, investment, energy, and media amongst many others.
The top businessman has defied convention in many ways. He has established multinational brand companies, using his multi-sector expertise to create the homegrown Haco Tiger brands, Centum Investment and Capital FM – one of Kenya’s favourite radio stations.
Dr. Kirubi’s drive for excellence saw him expand Haco industries from a distributor of American and British brands to a leading indigenous manufacturer of consumer products in East Africa. Soon afterwards, Kirubi formed a joint venture with Tiger Brands, one of South Africa’s largest food manufacturers to establish Haco Tiger brands, the sole manufacturer and distributor of hair, skin, home and food products such as Miadi, Palmers, Bloo Acticlean, Beacon Chocolates as well as Bic pens; alongside many other household names.
As one of the main speakers at the recent Kenya International Investment Conference, Dr. Kirubi thrives with challenges and is a strong believer of hard work and healthy competition as a means to creating environments conducive to sustained business growth.
“There will always be challenges but what is most important is how you overcome them,” he notes, adding that: “This is where ‘the rubber meets the road’ and you have got to know what to do.”
As an entrepreneur, Dr. Kirubi believes in empowering businessmen and women through sharing opportunities, with determination being the key ingredient in his own success story.
This year’s KIICO, the theme of which was “Think Investment, Make it Kenya” offered a platform to international, regional and domestic investors to consider business opportunities across various sectors of the Kenyan economy. The conference highlighted Kenya’s strategic role as a centre for doing business with the rest of the world and provided a forum for investors, policymakers and businessmen, including Dr. Kirubi, to build a narrative on ways to enhance the business climate.
It is clear that Dr. Kirubi is a force to reckon with – he says that, “when working with me, it is either you go big or go home.” He continues to prove his words in action by one of his latest projects, Two Rivers Mall – an extraordinary project set to become on of the largest lifestyle mall in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Two rivers will be an urban realm that interconnects the public space with the retail centre and sits on 100 acres of land that has been sub-divided to accommodate commercial, residential, hospitality, entertainment as well as lifestyle spaces,” he says.
The host at Capital FM added that Africa has become a focal point of global interest for investors and Kenya in particular, due its status as the gateway to East Africa and remains the destination of choice for not only investments in the country but for investors looking to explore other Eastern African markets.
“KIICO was a top opportunity for investors to meet and interact with business owners,” said Dr. Kirubi. He added that, through Kenya’s position as the business hub of the region, the Government has identified energy as one of the infrastructural enablers of the three pillars of Vision 2030, with an expected surge in energy use within the commercial sector on the road to 2030.
A major investor himself, Dr. Kirubi is converting continued interest in business projects in Kenya into action – along with thousands of global companies, which combined, have doubled FDI into the country in 2014 compared to 2013, with investment amounting to $1.2 billion, according to the African Development Bank. Recognizing opportunities within the energy sector – a key focus for KIICO 2015 – Dr. Kirubi advances plans for the $300 million Akiira geothermal power plant in the Rift Valley county of Nakuru, which is expected to generate 140MW.
“We are going to have enough power to accommodate investors who come to establish factories to convert raw material to used goods. As we are part of COMESA, we need to take advantage of this and be the source of all the products produced in our common market.”