Inside the big heart of a retired CEO who enjoys giving

ST Wainaina has a simple tithing philosophy, “I do not give because I am rich, but I am rich because I give.”

Most CEOs exit the public limelight after retirement. This is not the case with Samuel Tiras Wainaina alias ST Wainaina, the former CEO for Family Bank and Women Enterprise Fund. He has remained afloat, young and energetic giving back to the society.

Four years after his retirement from the Women Enterprise Fund as a CEO at the age of 53, we catch up with him at Boullervard Hotel in Nairobi where he opens up about his current life.

His day breaks at 4.30 am, the time he wakes up. He does meditate upon a religious book before going for physical exercise (jogging). He finds going to the gym very boring, the reason he prefers jogging. He then comes back and prepares for office. By 6.30am, he is in the office, at Dream Credit Limited where he serves as a non-executive director, works for one and half hours and then leaves for his new hobby, writing.

Behind the face of ST Wainaina is a philanthropic personality who is helping youngsters achieve their dreams in the academic and talent lanes. He first started by donating three acres of his land in his rural home to build a school, Wanjeri Secondary School, in Nyeri. The school currently holds 302 students. This is facilitated by 16 teachers, six employed by the Teachers’ Service Commission and 10 employed by the Board of Management.

As if that is not enough, his joy in giving back to the community was further depicted when he converted his late mother’s house into a community library. Ten percent of the sale of his books goes towards stocking the library.

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Currently he has four titles on his name, among them 52 weekly powerful conversations to transform self, teams and companies to greatness, The art of winning elections, My excuses: Barriers to dreams and successes and How to start & grow a profitable businesses. The last two books will be launched on February 8, graced by Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi.

He also bought more land in his rural home where he built a social hall to promote and nurture young talent. On the same piece of land, he has managed to put up a public rest park with football, volleyball, and netball pitches.

Many people who see his philanthropic nature think that he is flexing muscles to enter politics, as is the nature of most retired Kenyans.  However, that is beyond his plans.

“I do not plan to be a politician in any way. I have been brought up in a humble background and I know what most of these youngsters go through.”

At Starehe Boys’ Centre, he has started a sponsorship programme where he pays fees for smart students from humble backgrounds (orphans). The school gives him such kids on the condition that they are not Kikuyus (his tribe). He has educated three up to the university two of whom are working. The last one, a girl from Suba, graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University last year.

He believes in giving forward especially in education. He has a simple tithing philosophy, “I do not give because I am rich, but I am rich because I give.”

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In his entire life as a CEO, he has never been chauffeur-driven.  To cut costs for any organization, he would start by his own budget as a CEO. He would read specific newspapers on specific days to cut cost and time. “I did not see sense in the company buying me all the newspapers. If I spent all the time reading newspapers, what time would I work?” he poses.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Nairobi and a masters degree from Birmingham University in the United Kingdom. His driving force has been hard work, integrity, generosity and the urge to make a difference wherever he goes.

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