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Little Known Kericho Billionaire Behind West Valley Sugar Factory

Bernard Soi runs Kipchimchim Group which controls huge businesses in a number sectors including retail, agribusiness, real estate and logistics

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Sugarcane farmers in Soin-Sigowet sub-county in Kericho are a happy lot following the launch of the Sh3.5 billion West Valley Sugar Factory. Situated in Kapkornom area in Soin/Sigowet constituency, West Valley Sugar Factory, is equipped with the latest technology, which includes automated machinery and a quality control system.

Sugar cane is now the third most important cash crop in Kericho County after tea and coffee. It is now being grown in four sub-counties of Soin/Sigowet, Kipkelion, Belgut and Ainamoi.  The West Valley Sugar Factory (WEVAS), owned by the West Valley Sugar Company, is a subsidiary of the Kipchimchim Group of Companies.  The company is producing 2,200 bags of 50kg sugar daily.

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The man behind this huge success at industrialization in Kericho County is Bernard Soi, who is also the Managing Director Kipchimchim Group.

“There is also a lot of uncultivated land in Kericho where we are doing cane development with the farmers,” Mr Soi says. “We are giving seedlings to farmers and providing them with fertilizers to develop cane so that within the next two years we will have enough cane in the region.”

Mr Soi says Kenya’s newest sugar miller has been constructed in collaboration with sugar cane farmers in Kericho and its surrounding catchment zones. “The opening of a sugar factory brings about not only economic advantages but also technological progress, environmental considerations and community development,” he added. “It represents a promising step towards a more sustainable and prosperous future for the region.”

Indeed, Kipchimchim Group is a force to reckon with. Though it has remained low-profile at its base in Kericho, it controls businesses whose value could easily run into hundreds of billions of Kenya shillings.  It is a diverse, multi-sectoral corporation that engages in business locally and abroad.

It has over 20 companies under its helm and currently with more than 4,500 direct employees. The Group has invested in various sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, real estate, retail and wholesale industries.

The group traces its roots to humble beginnings to its late chairman, Mr Samwel Ngetich Kipsoi, who founded it in the year 2000. “Beginning with a small retail kiosk in Kipchimchim Center, we gradually expanded our operations to several retail stores trading as Kipchimatt Supermarket across the country,” Mr Soi says on the company’s website.

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Kipchimchim further ventured into the tea manufacturing and with the support of more than 50,000 green leaf farmers, it has commissioned six tea factories namely Kuresoi Tea Factory Limited, Mbogo Valley Tea Factory Limited, Sangalo Tea Factory Limited, Tet Tea Factory Limited, Stegro (EPZ) Tea Factory Limited and Emrok (EPZ) Tea factory.

Its portfolio also includes a mining and construction company named SABS Mining and Construction, which has been a strong pillar in the construction of its real estate projects and tea factories.

Kipchimatt Supermarkets has 13 retail stores in Kericho, Bomet, and Nandi Counties serving about 50,000 customers per day. Kipchimchim runs ABSS Warehouses, a huge go-down located in Mombasa that stores tea headed for export markets.

It also engages in the production, processing, and sale of milk and dairy products, as well as the raising and sale of beef cattle. Besides, Kipchimchim runs a successful poultry and eggs business.We keep a wide range of chicken in our farms in Kericho County,” it says. “For the success of this sector, we use state of the art machinery for feeding and watering our chicken. We have quite a number of chickens which translates to thousands of eggs in a day.”

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KALU MENGOhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Kalu Mengo is a Senior Reporter With Business Today. Email: [email protected]
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