Born to a poor background, Chris Kirubi has fought his way into being one of the richest men in Africa. Both of his parents died when he was very young. He began work while still in school to support himself and his siblings by working during school holidays.
His first job after graduating was as a salesman, selling and repairing gas cylinders for Shell, the giant petroleum company. Later on, he worked as an Administrator in the early 1960s to up to the early 1970s when he started purchasing properties.
He started by buying run-down buildings in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, renovating them and either selling or renting them out. He also started acquiring strategic pieces of land in and around Nairobi and proceeded to build commercial and residential properties on them.
One might wonder where he got all the funding, considering he comes from a humble background.
He bought his properties using loans from Kenyan financial institutions. According to him, properties during that time were much cheaper to purchase than it is now. This is why he ended up purchasing many properties using the loans he acquired.
His venture into the real estate world was timely and strategic. He has made over $300 since then from the properties.
In 1998 Chris Kirubi acquired for an undisclosed sum 100% of Haco Industries and one of the biggest radio stations, Capital FM. Venturing into the media business became quite personal to him.
“I didn’t just want to acquire the station solely for the financial dividends it was eventually going to give me. I wanted to love the business, I wanted to understand the business from the very basics. I approached the managers and told them that I wanted to host a rock radio show. I asked them to teach me how to become a Disc Jockey,” the business tycoon said in one his interviews
He is the largest shareholder at UAP insurance, Centum Investments, two rivers mall, and HACO.
Chris Kirubi has from then on, built a diversified empire from which he only recalls one defeat, a paint industries business.
“I didn’t understand the routes to market and couldn’t gain ground against the Giants in the sector. But I learned: you fail, you get up and you walk. You move on. I had the proceeds from the assets and some land that I still hold, so it wasn’t a total disaster,” he says.
He believes his biggest achievement was his transition from poverty to being an employer. From the very poor world to a world where I can create jobs and create opportunities Kenyans, he says, makes him happy the most. “My success is also Kenya’s success. I have lots of people working for me in the various companies I have. From being poor, I am now a job creator, creating lives for other people.”
From him, you learn that success does not automatically qualify for riches. It means that you achieve what you set out to achieve right from the start. You are a byproduct of your thoughts. Think rich and you become rich, think poverty you eventually remain in poverty, he says.