Commercial real estate has long been one of the most preferred investments for the wealthiest families in Kenya. Most of the biggest malls in the most prime areas of the capital, Nairobi, and its environs are associated with business tycoons who made fortunes in sectors including agriculture, manufacturing and real estate.
In this article, Business Today takes a look at some of the biggest malls in the Nairobi metropolitan area and the titans behind them.
Humphrey Kariuki – The Hub Karen
Business tycoon Humphrey Kariuki owns The Hub Karen. Besides the 35,000 square foot mall in one of Nairobi’s most upmarket neighborhoods, he owns Africa Spirits Ltd – manufacturers of Legend brandy and Bluemoon Vodka, and the luxurious Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club, among other ventures in energy, real estate and hospitality.
Opened in 2016, the Hub Karen sits on 20 acres in Karen, Nairobi and hosts over 85 stores including several market-leading brands. It claims to welcome over 80,000 visitors every week. In 2014, Forbes placed Kariuki’s net worth at $70 million (Ksh9.8 billion).
Kirubi Family – Two Rivers Mall
Centum Investments owns a controlling 58% stake in Two Rivers Development Limited, which includes Two Rivers Mall as well as commercial, residential and recreational spaces. Chris Kirubi, who passed away in 2021 aged 80, owned a 31-percent stake in Centum Investments. The stake is today held by his son, Robert Kirubi, and daughter, Mary-Ann who inherited 80 percent of his fortune – including stakes in KCB Group, Haco Industries and Bendor Estate Limited among several other businesses.
Two Rivers sits on 100 acres on Limuru Road. The mall covers over 700,000 square feet of leasable space, making it one of the largest malls on the continent, and includes over 200 retail stores.
The Two Rivers Development recently scored a major win following the gazettement of Two Rivers International Finance and Innovation Centre as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), a move set to attract various companies to the area with the promise of tax breaks and eased regulation.
Peter Burugu – Kiambu Mall
Peter Burugu made a fortune as the biggest distributor of East African Breweries Limited (EABL) products including Tusker lager in Nairobi, through his company Bia Tosha. He channeled some of that fortune into the development of Kiambu Mall in Kiambu County.
As the mall opened its doors in 2017; Burugu stated “I decided to construct a mall on my one-and-a-half acres because Kiambu people have been travelling 15km to Nairobi to shop in a mall. I am bringing a mall closer to them.” He pumped an estimated Ksh800 million into the development of the mall.
Muguku Family – The Waterfront Karen
The family of the late Nelson Muguku, who famously built his fortune as one of the largest poultry farmers and investors in the country, owns The Waterfront Karen, another of the city’s biggest malls. The Waterfront Karen sits on 50 acres in one of Nairobi’s most expensive areas, and boasts over 200,000 square feet of lettable space.
It was reported in 2021 that the Muguku family was eyeing Ksh20 billion from a potential sale of the mall.
Shah Family – Sarit Centre
Sarit Centre in Nairobi is associated with the family of the late Vidhu Shah, who is also the founder of Textbook Centre. The mall, located on Waiyaki Way in the busy Westlands area, covers over 500,000 sq. feet on six levels and plays host to brands including Carrefour and Nairobi Java House.