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Chelugui: Inside Billionaire Cabinet Secretary’s Empire

Chelugui is one of the wealthiest Cabinet Secretaries

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Co-operatives Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui was the only CS from former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration who retained a spot in President William Ruto’s cabinet after he won the General Election in 2022. Chelugui, who hails from  Baringo County is a close ally of the President, and is credited with leading UDA’s successful push to dethrone KANU and former Senator Gideon Moi in Baringo last year.

But away from the political arena, Chelugui is one of the wealthiest Cabinet Secretaries, having built up a fortune over the years in sectors including real estate and agriculture.

During his vetting by Parliament, he placed his net worth at Ksh993 million. Other reports place his net worth just north of Ksh1 billion.

Chelugui was born 51 years ago in Baringo. He attended local schools and passed his secondary school examinations, and was admitted to the University of Nairobi to pursue Bachelor of Commerce degree, specializing in management science.

According to Chelugui, World Bank and IMF-led Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) meant jobs were scarce when he graduated in 1996.

He therefore ventured into business, partnering with Edward Kiptanui to purchase a coffee machinery factory on Bamburi Road in Nairobi. They serviced and sold coffee production machines for factories and cooperatives across the country, including in Western, Central and Eastern Kenya.

They sold the business after two years as the coffee market took a dip resulting in a decline in business. It however formed the foundation of his wealth.

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He would go on to invest in a dairy production plant, residential apartments in Nairobi and land, growing his net worth close to Ksh1 billion.

In 2007 he was appointed to chair the National Government Central Development Fund (NG-CDF) board. He resigned in 2012 to contest the Baringo Governor seat but failed in his bid.

He then landed an appointment as a director of the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB). He resigned again ahead of the 2017 polls to run for the Baringo Senator seat, but again failed. He was, however, appointed CS for Water and Sanitation by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He was convinced not to contest in the 2022 polls and was appointed CS for Cooperatives by President William Ruto.

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