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Meet the little-known tycoon behind the popular Afia juice

Afia Juice has become a household name in Kenya, widely regarded as the most popular juice among Kenyans.

However, many have often wondered about the person behind this successful product.

The man responsible for this iconic brand is Kimani Rugendo, a Kenyan entrepreneur and founder of Kevian Kenya Limited – the company behind the popular fruit juice brands, Afia juice and Peek and Peel.

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Kimani Rugendo, through his popular fruit juice brands Afia juice and Peek and Peel,  attained his current position through a journey marked by tenacity, originality, and diligence.

Born in Kenya in the 1960s, Rugendo grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. His father was a successful businessman who owned several businesses, including a coffee farm and a transport company.

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Rugendo inherited his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and knew from an early age that he wanted to be a businessman.

After completing his education, Rugendo ventured into politics and was elected as the chairman of the Ford-Asili political party in the 1990s.

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He also contested for the Langata constituency parliamentary seat in 1992, but he lost to Raila Odinga. Disappointed by his loss, Rugendo decided to leave politics and try his hand at business.

He started in the purified water business, supplying bottled water to tourist hotels in Mombasa and small supermarkets in Nairobi.

He did this for three years until he had saved up enough money to start his own business. In 1995, with the help of family and friends, he founded Kevian Kenya Limited.

Rugendo and his wife, Helen, came up with the idea of producing fruit juices in the country. They launched their first two brands, Afia juice and Peek and Peel, which immediately became a major success.

Rugendo’s background in the water business gave him a unique advantage, as the raw material for fruit juice is water. He was able to use his experience in the water business to produce high-quality fruit juices that were affordable for Kenyans.

Kevian Kenya Limited has since grown to become one of the largest beverage companies in Kenya.

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Its products are sold in several African countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Sudan. The demand for their Afia Juice products prompted the company to build a second factory in Thika in 2005.

The Thika plant is able to produce 20,000 liters of Peek and Peel juices per hour and 40,000 liters of Afia juice every hour.

Under Rugendo’s leadership, Kevian Kenya Limited has diversified to produce other non-alcoholic drinks, including carbonated variants such as Plain Malt, Energy Malt, Orange Malt, and Lemon Malt.

The company has also expanded into other areas such as coffee, tomato sauce, and packed vegetable soup.

In 2019, Rugendo secured a Sh 1.3 billion loan from Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), a development finance institution run by the German government, to help the company continue its expansion.

Rugendo’s success in business has made him one of the wealthiest people in Kenya. He is also involved in other businesses, including Sterling Kenya Limited, a company that produces tanks, and Sterling Craft Limited, a company that manufactures industrial equipment and military regalia.

Sterling Craft supplies the Kenya Police and Kenya Defense Forces with berets, medallions, ceremonial swords, and other equipment.

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