Friday, 28 February 2014

5 Lessons we can learn from Chris Kirubi – Africa’s 31st richest man!!
“Business is always a struggle. There are always obstacles and competitors. There is never an open road, except the wide road that leads to failure. Every great success has always been achieved by fight. Every winner has scars….The men who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and will-power to develop themselves. So choose to be among the few today.” ~ Chris Kirubi


Chris Kirubi defies expectations. At age 70, the Kenyan entrepreneur has built an empire spanning real estate, manufacturing and investments that ranks him as one of the wealthiest people in Africa. Which makes it all the more surprising that this businessman in a bespoke suit regularly does stints as a DJ at Nairobi radio station Capital FM – and has more than 13,000 followers on Twitter.

But the question is…where did he start??

Like many entrepreneurs he wasn’t handed down a pot of gold from the skies…No!!He built his business and brand through sheer hard work and out of the box thinking.

For many years, Kirubi worked as an administrator at Kenatco, a transport company owned by the Kenyan government. Then in the early 70s, he began building what would go on to become an empire. And this he did in the most creative of ways.

He developed a reputation for purchasing ramshackle houses and commercial properties in Nairobi with loans he obtained from financial institutions, refurbished them, and sold them at a profit. The proceeds he ingeniously disbursed into the building of some of the city’s finest business and residential edifices. Not long after, he was counting the cash. And a time surely, came when the cash became uncountable!

Today, Kirubi, an icon of the Kenyan property industry, is one of Africa’s richest. His mercurial entrepreneurial imprints have spanned such industries as real estate, manufacturing and investments.  He holds the largest individual stake in Centum Investments, a private equity firm listed on the Nairobi and Uganda stock exchanges. (Centum is itself one of East Africa’s most coveted investment portfolios, holding significant stakes in Safaricom, the country’s foremost communications company; Coca-cola; and Kenyan Commercial Bank.) He is equally the largest individual shareholder in UAP, East Africa’s third largest insurance company.

In 1998, he bought Capital FM, a flagging local radio station where he later learnt the ropes of disc jockeying. “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,” he would later tell a Forbes magazine interviewer. “I wanted to understand the business from the very basics. So, 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.”

Like with nearly every other cause he has pursued, his hosting of a weekly rock show has increased the station’s public rating. A once-floundering station now has the largest listenership based — over three million people — in the country.

Owning north of 40 commercial and residential properties in the Kenyan capital valued at $200m and other assets worth $100m, he occupies 31st place on the maiden Forbes’ list of Africa’s 40 richest people.

And he is loved, too — anyone who derives joy from the happiness of others would certainly be. Hear him talk to Forbes: “People say I am one of the richest people in Kenya, but that’s not my concern. I mean, they say I am a god of sorts, but I don’t agree … When I look around at my companies and see the number of people we have employed, it gives me joy. It is more satisfying than having all the money in the world.”

Here are 5 lessons we can learn from this amazing individual (in his own words) :

1)Recognize your life’s purpose…and build your life around it

“One of the ways I believe you can find meaning of your life is by creating a strategy that you can use through your journey. You need to keep the purpose of your life, front and center as you decide how to spend your time, talents and energy. Remember that without a purpose, life can be hollow.”

2)Have a positive attitude

“Visualize your past victories while visualizing and anticipating future victories. Planting the seeds of positive expectancy in your mind is the best way to reap.”

3)Appreciate your people

“One of the most important lessons that has made me be a better employer and businessman is pointing out people’s strengths. I have come to learn that the praise of others may be of use in teaching us, not what we are, but what we ought to be.

4)Research about your idea – thoroughly…

“If you understand an idea, you can express it so others can understand it. However, if you can’t explain it, you don’t really understand it; and you cannot invest in a business you don’t understand. So friends, do your research well and understand the idea or concept you want to execute before investing in it.”

5)Balance your personal and professional life

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day…but because I want to achieve my purpose and make a difference in society, I will stop focusing on the frightful things I see when I take my eyes off my goals and instead fix them there.


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