Sunday, March 26, 2023

Names Behind the Biggest Shopping Malls in Nairobi

By Jane Muia

Nairobi is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa. It is also among the African cities hosting the highest number of dollar millionaires. Last year, a research firm, New World Wealth and Henley and Partners report revealed that Nairobi has 5,000 high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) with at least $1 million (120 million shillings).

It is also home to some 240 multi-millionaires ($10 million+) with a net worth of more than $10 million (Sh1.2 billion) and 11 centi-millionaires ($100 million+)  who have more than $100 million (Sh12 billion). Most of these millionaires are believed to have invested in diverse sectors, including the lucrative real estate sector, which has recently recorded exemplary growth giving Nairobi a world-class experience.

Kenya’s capital also hosts the biggest shopping mall in East Africa and the second biggest in Africa. In the recent past, shopping malls in the city have gained popularity and have become a popular weekend family destination owing to their beehive of activities. So who are the billionaires behind Nairobi’s popular malls?

Chris Kirubi – Two Rivers Mall

Born in Murang’a county, Kirubi was a Kenyan businessman. He is the name behind the popular Two Rivers Mall that opened its doors on February 14, 2017. Located on Limuru road, Two rivers mall is the biggest Mall in East Africa and the second biggest Mall in Africa after the Morocco mall.

Top 10 biggest shopping malls in Kenya 2023

It hosts over 200 stores and offices, including Carrefour, Nike, Burger King, LC Waikiki, Platform, and Ashley Furniture. The Mall is set to face competition from Eastleigh’s Business Bay Square Mall, which is yet to be commissioned.

Being an orphan from a young age, Kirubi started his career as a salesman at Shell, an oil and gas company. His hard work and determination made him a leading entrepreneur and investor in East Africa. He was the largest individual investor at Centum Investment Company. He also owned Capital FM and had shares in Kenya Commercial Bank and Nation Media Group, among other investments.

Kirubi died on June 2021 after a long battle with colon cancer.

Vidhu Shah –  Sarit Centre

He was a Prominent Kenyan businessman and entrepreneur. He is the billionaire behind the popular Sarit Centre in Westlands. Started in 1983, Sarit Centre was the first-ever shopping mall in East Africa. The Mall houses several businesses, including offices, health institutions, and restaurants.

Vidhu Shah and his close friend Maneklal Rughani started Sarit centre as a textbook centre, selling stationery and school uniforms. The two born Indians who lived in Murang’a and Karatina counties later expanded the Mall to become the country’s best shopping centre.

Shah also owned other investments across the country and died on April 2021.

Nicholas Kipyator Kiprono Arap Biwott– Yaya Centre

The late Biwott was a Kenyan businessman who also served as a minister in the late president Moi’s government. He is the billionaire behind the popular Yaya Centre. Located in Hullingham, Yaya centre houses several businesses, hotels and restaurants, offices,  banks, fitness and wellness centres, and health facilities.

Yaya Centre
Yaya Centre

Born in the Rift Valley region, Biwott started his entrepreneurial journey as a teenager. He worked in his father’s fruit and vegetable business in Eldoret. He later started selling meat products and eggs before expanding his business to a food and animal feed products company. He was regarded as one of Kenya’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Why late Biwott’s Yaya West Wing building has been incomplete for 32yrs

Biwott, who died in July 2017, also invested in several other businesses, including Kenol Kobil, which is s petroleum company, Barsirim Investment Limited, Kipsinende Farm, Rono Limited, National Milling Corporation, and the HZ Group of Companies.

Humphrey Kariuki- Hub Karen Mall

Humphrey Kariuki is the Kenyan billionaire behind the luxurious The Hub Karen. Located in Karen, the Mall hosts local and international retailers and small businesses. According to his website, Kariuki founded Janus Continental Group, a diversified holding company comprising market-leading companies focused on the petroleum, energy, hospitality, and real estate sectors.

He also owns several companies, including Africa Spirits, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy and Animal Orphanage, Dalbit Petroleum, and Great Lakes Africa Energy.

Kariuki began his career at the Central Bank of Kenya before starting his first business and embarking on his entrepreneurial journey.

Actis – Junction Mall, Garden City, TRM

This London-based company owns and manages Nairobi’s The Junction Mall and Garden City Mall. Junction mall is along Ngong road, while Garden city mall is along Thika road. Both malls host various businesses, including restaurants, banks, health facilities, and kids’ playing areas.

Garden City, Nairobi
Garden City, Nairobi

Actis, a leading private equity investor in Sub-Saharan Africa, also owns the Nairobi Business park and the Thika Road Mall (TRM).

Sony Holdings – Westgate Shopping Mall

Sony Holding Limited is a Kenyan company that owns the iconic Westgate Shopping Mall. Located in the Westlands in Nairobi City, the Westgate houses retail stores, restaurants, supermarkets, banks, health institutions, and many other businesses.

The Mall was first opened in 2007 before being closed in 2013 following an attack by the Al-Shabaab group that killed more than 60 people. The Mall was later reopened in July 2015, while the parts badly affected by the attack remained closed for reconstruction until 2018.

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