Before the death of her father Chris Kirubi in June 2021, Ms Maryanne Musangi was a figure away from the limelight, running her own businesses.
Although she sat on a number of boards, Ms Musangi was not such a visible figure in her father’s multimillion business empire.
However, the year 2018 changed things for her. Mr Kirubi was diagnosed with cancer, forcing him to travel regularly outside the country for treatment. This would force her to run the businesses in the shadow of her father for three years, when Mr Kirubi passed away.
She would now become the face of the Kirubi empire, which had investments in media, manufacturing, real estate, and technology.
“It’s not like he passed away and then I came and took over. I was running them [businesses] already. I sat on the boards of the companies as a director before he fell sick,” she told Business Daily.
Ms Musangi worked for the KCB Bank Group as the marketing director for five years before she resigned in 2011 to venture into business.
Before that, she worked for different corporates including GlaxoSmithKline and Ogilvy & Mather.
After resigning from KCB in 2011, she started a restaurant, Secret Garden, on Riverside Drive in Nairobi. She also ventured into catering business. She later closed down the businesses after the Dusit D2 terror attack, and the Covid-19 pandemic which negatively affected cash flows. She had also to concentrate on running her father’s business.
She says that despite sitting in boards with her father, she had to learn from her father, by being nearer when he discussed business with potential partners and business associates.
“I would sit with him in board meetings. However, whenever he had a business colleague come home, I would cleverly be the one to serve drinks, food, and whatever they required so that I could listen to what was being discussed. That is how I picked lots of learning and experience from him,” she says.
“I wanted to learn more about his businesses. With my business acumen from working for multinationals, I wanted to understand his businesses and how they would sit in comparison to the multinationals that I was working with. Ever since I was young, I have always loved business. I always knew that I was going to be a business person and I always knew that I would take over his businesses.”
Ms Musangi admits that at the death of her father, however much she had been conversant with the businesses, there was fear.
“I had been running the business five years before he passed away. I already had a relationship with all the members and I felt that I was at a point where people knew who I was, they trusted me, we developed strategies together, and we knew where businesses were going. But to be honest, the day he passed away, there was so much fear,” she told the publication.
Before his death, Mr Kirubi had 4.5 million shares worth Ksh801 million, and also owned International House and Kiruma International estimated to be worth at least Ksh1 billion.
He was the single-largest shareholder of Centum Investments with a 28.64% stake and also owned Capital FM among other business ventures.
“I will do everything possible to make sure that the businesses continue running well; continue thriving; that we can continue employing the people that we have within the different organisations,” Ms Musangi added.