The 2022 General elections in Kenya have attracted a wide field of aspirants, from seasoned politicians to celebrities, religious leaders and business moguls.
Corporate honchos and mavericks are leaving their C-Suite offices to jump into the murky world of politics. While they’re running for different seats, a common thread in their campaigns is that they’re banking on their career track records to endear them to voters – promising that their experience puts them in the best position to solve their problems.
Here, Business Today looks at six Kenyan CEOs in the 2022 race.
SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri this week became the latest business leader to announce his intention to vie in the 2022 elections. The former Kenya Airways pilot is gunning for the Kasarani MP seat. He is yet to declare his political vehicle of choice.
Karauri ditched his aviation career to run SportPesa. With him at the helm, SportPesa rose to become Kenya’s biggest sports b*****g firm raking in billions of shillings and sponsoring several sports teams, leagues and events in Kenya and beyond. The company, however, felt the impact of an onslaught from the government on the b*****g industry resulting in them quitting the Kenyan market in 2019.
They made a comeback to the scene in 2020 albeit under controversial circumstances, with legal battles raging over their licensing. Karauri will be hoping that the company’s immense fame and its involvement in community projects in Kasarani and elsewhere will boost his bid.
Interestingly, Karauri comes from a political family. His father Mathew Adams Kariuki is a former MP for Tigania East.
Fernandes Barasa resigned as CEO of state-owned Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) this week to focus on his bid to succeed Wycliffe Oparanya as Governor of Kakamega County.
Barasa is eyeing the seat on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party ticket and polls put him among the frontrunners. He is also backing former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s bid for the Presidency under the Azimio la Umoja coalition.
Barasa is counting on his long-standing connection with Kakamega residents through his Barasa Foundation, as well as his professional experience and proposed economic transformation policies to emerge victorious.
He stepped down as KETRACO CEO on Monday, January 31, a day before he was expected to appear before the National Assembly Public Investments Committee (PIC) on Tuesday for a grilling over a Ksh600 million excess payment made to Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) for a project in Marsabit County. Senior Kenya Power managers were also summoned by the MPs.
Tabitha Karanja, founder of Keroche Breweries, earned international recognition and accolades for building the first home-grown alcohol producer to challenge the dominance of Diageo-owned EABL in the Kenyan market.
She is now eyeing the Nakuru Senate seat on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket.
Keroche remains the second largest alcohol manufacturer in the country. Like Sportpesa’s Karauri, however, Karanja has faced her fair share of battles with the taxman over Keroche’s earnings.
Karanja recently relinquished her position as CEO of Keroche to focus on the campaign trail. She has maintained that her decision to run is inspired by her desire to create better conditions for business owners, traders and manufacturers in Kenya.
Patrick ‘Jungle’ Wainaina
Patrick ‘WaJungle’ Wainaina surprised many in 2017 when he was elected as Thika MP as an independent candidate. He is eyeing the Kiambu Governor’s seat in 2022. Wainaina notably continues to serve as CEO of Jungle Holdings, an agricultural firm exporting nuts, avocados and more to markets including UK, US and China.
At an award ceremony organized by the Avocado Society in Kenya in December 2021, Jungle Avos was named the best company in the country in avocado value addition. Wainaina is also heavily involved in charity work through his Jungle Foundation, something that has endeared him to residents over the years.
Among those the foundation supports are numerous small-scale macadamia farmers in the region. He faces a tough battle ahead for the Governor’s seat, however, as it is also being eyed by incumbent James Nyoro, former Governor William Kabogo and Kiambu Senator Wamatangi.
Mwenda Thuranira is the CEO of MySpace Properties, a real estate firm with a footprint in Nairobi and the Coast among other parts of the country. The property development company was in 2019 admitted into the Nairobi Securities Exchange’s (NSE) Ibuka incubator accelerator programme.
Thuranira is looking to be elected MP of Isiolo North come August 2022. He has already hit the campaign trail promising a great new era of development for the constituency.
Having long been involved in charity initiatives in Isiolo, Thuranira hopes to convince residents to back him in the race. His message focuses on empowerment of youth and women as well as transparency and service to all.
Richard Ngatia is the CEO of Megascope Healthcare and the President of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI). He is also the proprietor of Galileo Lounge, a popular upmarket club in Nairobi.
He wants to be elected Governor of the capital, Nairobi, in August.
In September 2020, a damning Senate report alleged that Megascope Healthcare Ltd was at the centre of the Ksh63 billion ‘Covid Billionaires’ medical supplies s*****l. The senators claimed that the company irregularly secured contracts worth over Ksh1 Billion from the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) for Covid-19 medical supplies.
Ngatia has repeatedly denied all a*********s of c********n, which his competitors have used to argue against his candidature.
“It pains me that some people are playing politics with the lives of Kenyans. Megascope is a multinational company operating in over 15 countries. We provide sophisticated medical equipment and train our health workers on how to use them,” he told Kameme FM on February 2, 2022.