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Inside Kirubi Heiress’s Multi-Billion Empire

"We’re similar in character. The work ethic, the stubbornness," she once stated while talking about her father

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Maryann Musangi, daughter of the late business mogul Chris Kirubi, is one of Kenya’s wealthiest women. She is married to Andrew Musangi, who was recently nominated by President William Ruto to serve as Chairman of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

This week, Maryann Musangi announced her resignation from the board of Sidian Bank, one of the companies in the Centum portfolio, in what was perceived as a move to avoid conflict of interest with her husband leading the apex bank. The 52-year old Maryann had sat on the board of Sidian for the past 8 years, and played a key role in shaping its identity as it rebranded from K-Rep to Sidian.

Musangi took on the mantle of running the family empire following her father’s passing in 2021 at the age of 80. Since then, she has scored some major wins, including the gazettement of the Two Rivers International Financial Center by the government as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) earlier this year. The move is credited with attracting more local and international businesses in the professional services sector to the location, thanks to various tax and regulatory benefits.

While that might have come as a surprise to some, it shouldn’t be, as she had established herself as an entrepreneur and executive long before her father’s passing. In addition to sitting on the boards of various companies, she ran her own ventures – such as Olpul steak house at Two Rivers mall.

Prior to focusing on entrepreneurship and motherhood, she had spent years working in branding management for  brands including Coca-Cola, KCB, GlaxoSmithkline and Ogilvy & Mather.

Today, she is in charge of the Kirubi empire – which includes vast interests in financial services and real estate among other sectors. Kirubi was the single largest individual shareholder in Centum Investment Company, a Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)-listed firm.

Chris Kirubi owned a 31-percent stake in Centum Investments. The stake is today held by his son, Robert Kirubi, and daughter, Maryann who inherited 80 percent of his fortune – including stakes in KCB Group, Haco Industries and Bendor Estate Limited among other companies.

The Centum portfolio includes luxury real estate development such as Vipingo Ridge in Kilifi, stakes in publishers and international schools including Longhorn and SABIS International Schools, financial services firms Sidian Bank and Nabo Capital, Two Rivers – one of the largest malls in the region, among other companies in the agribusiness and consumer sector.

“We’re similar in character. The work ethic, the stubbornness… (Laughs). My dad is always pushing it,” Maryann stated while peaking about similarities between her and her father in a 2017 interview, before his death. “He’s a man who should have retired by now but he will not. Every day he gets to more boards, more organisations, he gets called to other countries to talk about Kenya; the economic environment, the business environment… so he can’t stop, he won’t stop. I don’t think he should. If he still has a lot to give, he should continue giving.”

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