The Kenyan entrepreneurial and business sector in general has seen a major boom in 2017. At the helm of the companies that made headlines this year are stellar new generation leaders.
Without strategic leadership and creative direction of these guys, the companies might not have achieved major strides like they did. These esteemed men and women earned critical acclaim and awards for their hardworking and balling hard. Here are the top 10 Kenyan CEOs and bosses in no particular order.
1. Bob Collymore
He is Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer, responsible for the major transitional changes that the company has been going through since he took office; these include rolling out of the first ever 4G network in Kenya as well as the rapid growth of the retail operations of the company. In 2012, he was awarded Moran of the Burning Spear by the then President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki. In 2017, he was awarded CEO of the Year by African Investor.
2. Wandia Gichuru
She is the founder of Vivo Activewear, a popular women’s clothing brand based here in Nairobi. She is also one of the Lions on KCB’s Lion’s Den which airs on KTN. She is undoubtedly one of Kenya’s most decorated entrepreneurs. Before starting her own company, she had previously held positions in the United Nations, UK Government and World Bank.
3. Chintan Thacker
He is the Managing Director of Vivek Group, a homecare, personal care and hosehould products manufacturing company. He is the finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year — East Africa by CNBC Africa. Under his leadership, Vivek Investments Ltd won the award for best company for environmental conservation.
It was listed also as one of the fastest growing companies in Kenya by KPMG. In November 2016, the manufacturer won the Company of the Year award by Kenya Institute of Management. Chintan is sure one of the top CEOs to look out for in 2018.
4. James Mworia
He has hit the headlines as one of Kenya’s most paid CEOs. 2016 reports indicate he had a Ksh. 201.1 million remuneration package. The considerably young leader is behind Centum Investments, the company responsible for one of the most hyped real estated projects of the year, Two Rivers Mall. He is also a board member at Sidian Bank and the Nairobi Stock Exchange. He became a CEO at Centum in 2008 at age 30.
5. Michelle Ntalami
She is the CEO of Marini Naturals. Many know her for massive social media following but she is more than just beauty. She was once the youngest Chartered Marketer, and top student in the world in the Chartered Institute of Marketing. She got a First Class Honors in her Communication Design degree and was 14th in the country. Her company was among the World’s Top Hottest StartUps – CNBC, among the Most Influential Women in Digital – Digitalk Africa and got the Entreprenuer Award at the SOMA Awards — all in 2017.
6. Eric Omondi
Eric is one of Kenya’s most popular comedians. He is also the CEO of Big Tyme Entertainment. 2017 has been a successful year for him. Together with his co-founder Chipukeezy, they have kept us entertained all year long. They have also held shows around the world, from Norway to Dubai to the United States. This is especially inspiring because he has used his popularity to become a force to reckon with in the African entertainment industry. Some of his highlights include being featured on CNN African Voices, winning Comedian of the Year at the STARQT Annual Awards in South Africa and landing endorsement deals with notable companies.
7. Julie Gichuru
She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Arimus Media Limited, an production house focused on quality African content, and Mimi Holdings Limited, a fashion retail business. She has been juggling these two, her television career and being a mum. Even hectic has been her schedule with international engagements, whether it is with her line of work, attending conferences or working on special projects with international organizations. She has been recognized by Forbes as one of the top 20 Young Power Women in Africa. Julie was declared a Young Lobal Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010. She was awarded the Order of the Golden Warrior for her contribution towards nation building by President Mwai Kibaki in 2011.
8. Diana Opoti
You cannot discuss Kenyan fashion without the name Diana Opoti popping up. She is an entrepreneur, fashion enthusiast and influencer. She is the founder of Diana Opoti PR. This year, she was among the BOF500, the definitive professional index of the people shaping the $2.4 trillion fashion industry, hand-selected by the editors of The Business of Fashion, based on hundreds of nominations received from current BoF 500 members, extensive data analysis and research. The Kenyan fashion enthusiast, entrepreneur and opinion shaper, was honored alongside big names in the global fashion including, David Beckham and Zayn. In 2014, she was listed among the Most Influential 100 Personalities by the New African Magazine, has been a winner, Fashion Communicator of the Year (Africa International Fashion Week – Nigeria) and was the Fashion Journalist of the Year, Swahili Fashion Week 2013.
9. Terryanne Chebet
She is a power woman. She has had a stellar on-screen career as a news anchor and when that ended unexpectedly, she did not sink with that. She went on to fully concentrate on her businesses, which include a skin care line and an advertising and communications company based in Nairobi, Kenya. Just recently, Chebet was listed alongside Bonang Matheba and Toke Makinwa as one of the “young” female broadcasters building notable brands outside media and content creation. This was listing by Media Guide Nigeria.
10. Huddah Monroe
Her controversial brand has since become a money-minting business. She is a brand ambassador for various luxury brands and the followed person on Instagram in Kenya with 1.2m followers. She also owns a popular cosmetics line that has taken over the Kenyan beauty scene. Apart from that, she made money from being a digital influencer for various companies in Kenya.