Charlene Ruto is the daughter of President William Ruto. Since Ruto took over as President in 2022, Charlene has been the most visible of Ruto’s children. She has attended and spoken at several public forums, mostly on youth affairs.
She stoked public outrage earlier this year after referring to the ‘Office of the First Daughter’ , which doesn’t legally exist as a public office. She also raised eyebrows after claiming at a public forum that she got her start in business selling smokies at Daystar University, a story many including her former schoolmates at Daystar questioned the authenticity of.
Charlene, however, is a businesswoman worth millions. She holds significant shares in many of the Ruto family companies with interests in real estate and hospitality among other sectors. She has also been actively involved in the running of various ventures associated with Ruto’s family, including Weston Hotel, and is involved in other ventures of her own including agriculture and beekeeping.
Charlene was in 2018 appointed Director of Branding and Public Relations at Weston Hotel, a 3-star hotel along Lang’ata Road owned by Ruto. She is also a shareholder in Weston Hotel Limited, the company that operates the hotel, with 10,013 shares to her name.
The hotel targets business travelers and also frequently hosts various conferences and meetings, including government agencies’ meetings. It is also popular with political leaders, particularly those affiliated with the President’s Kenya Kwanza coalition.
Charlene also owns shares in Matiny Limited, one of the most important companies in the Ruto portfolio. The company was first incorporated by Ruto in 1996 as he prepared for his first stab at the Eldoret North parliamentary seat. It is unclear at what point he transferred ownership to family members.
Charlene owns one share in Matiny Limited while her mother, First Lady Rachel Ruto, owns six shares. Rachel is also listed as Company Secretary. It is through Matiny that the Rutos landed lucrative, controversial real estate deals.
In November 2018, the National Police Service (NPS) notified over 100 companies, including Matiny Limited, that it would no longer lease houses for its officers from them due to a policy shift that would see some officers receive house allowance while others were to have apartment housing built for them. Since 2015, the Rutos had leased 170 apartments to the police service through Matiny Limited.
The Rutos, through Matiny Limited, were also among powerful individuals allocated houses in Woodley Estate by City Hall in an exercise marred with irregularities. The house received by Matiny was in 2019 valued by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission at Ksh20 million.
While beneficiaries insisted they acquired the properties legally, EACC however found that the process was full of illegalities and recovered the properties in 2020. Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi is among other powerful figures who also recieved the Woodley houses.
Matiny is also a minority shareholder of Weston Hotel. The hotel group in 2018 spread its wings to the Coast with the construction of Dolphine Beach Hotel in Shanzu.