William Ruto was on Monday, August 15 declared President-elect of the Republic of Kenya. Since 2013, Ruto has been the Deputy President, elected alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta for both his two terms.
55-year old Ruto has occupied various positions in government over the course of a political career stretching over 25 years. Like some of his fellow key figures in the YK92 outfit which campaigned for former President Daniel Arap Moi’s re-election in 1992 and other KANU-era figures, proximity to power played a part in some of Ruto’s successes in business.
Regardless, he has built a massive empire spanning sectors including hospitality, real estate, agriculture and insurance. He has also previously disclosed assets including stocks in various Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)-listed firms and land parcels.
Here, Business Today takes a look at known pieces of the business empire of the man who captured voters’ imagination with his dynamic campaign messaging promising to uplift Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs).
Matiny Limited is one of the earliest companies associated with Ruto. It was incorporated by the President-elect in July 1996, a year before he made a successful first run for the Eldoret North MP seat under KANU. The company deals with real estate and hospitality
In November 2018, the National Police Service (NPS) notified over 100 companies that it would no longer lease houses for its officers from them due to a policy shift that would see some officers receive house allowance while others were to have apartment housing built for them. Matiny Limited was among the firms notified. Since 2015, it has leased 170 apartments to NPS.
Matiny is also among firms that benefited when City Hall handed houses in Woodley Estate to powerful figures associated with Kanu. 103 units were built as part of an affordable housing program meant to benefit city residents, but the houses were instead sold to several connected individuals who rented them out at premium rates. According to the EACC, Matiny Limited received a house worth Ksh20 million.
Beneficiaries maintained that they acquired the properties legally, but the process was full of discrepancies. EACC in 2020 recovered the properties after the High Court ruled that the sale was not legal.
It remains unclear at which point Ruto transferred ownership of the company to his wife Rachel Ruto and daughter Charlene Ruto. Records from the Business Registration Service indicate that Rachel owns six shares in the company and serves as the company secretary. Charlene owns one share.
William Ruto is a minority shareholder at Amaco Insurance with 50,000 shares. The shares are owned through his company Yegen Farms Limited.
Amaco’s client list includes both individuals and corporates. It has clinched several major contracts from various state agencies in recent years despite facing multiple insolvency petitions over its failure to pay claims.
Silas Kibet Simatwo, the majority shareholder at Amaco, is reportedly a friend of Ruto. Simatwo owns 190,600 shares in the company. Other shareholders include Linus Kipngetich (190,000 shares), Amos Kipkorir Biwott (189,400), Risto Sievert (140,000), Alena German (130,000), Jourbert & Borman Limited (90,000), Kohlberg Flenders Limited (90,000) and Ritah Tebasiima (130,000).
William Ruto in 2015 admitted to owning Weston Hotel, a classy business hotel in Nairobi along Lang’ata Road. He spoke up as controversy rocked the hotel over an alleged land-grabbing plot targeting the playground of the nearby Lang’ata Primary School. Pupils, parents and teachers were caught up in protests as police lobbied teargas to disperse crowds. Weston denied the land-grabbing plot.
Weston has also been locked in a legal tussle with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) which has been seeking to reclaim the land the hotel sits on. The High Court determined that the land was grabbed from the KCAA by two private firms – Priority Limited and Monene Investments – before being sold to Weston in 2007.
Weston wants the court to allow it to compensate KCAA but the state agency has been pushing for a repossession order. Weston has stated in court that it borrowed Ksh1.2 billion from KCB Bank with the contested land as security, arguing that repossession would be heavily detrimental.
Dolphine Hotel is another of Ruto’s interests in the hospitality sector. During its construction in 2018, it sparked a storm after it emerged that the hotel had reportedly encroached on sea land while blocking access to a public beach.
The issues, however, were resolved according to inspections by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Mombasa County and local activists. The county and Nema have since allowed for resumption of construction of the hotel.
Yegen Farms focuses on rearing poultry in in Sugoi, Uasin Gishu County. The eggs are supplied to various institutions and businesses. In 2018, four people were taken into police custody for making away with 10 crates of eggs from the farm. Ruto has previously stated that he rears 200,000 chicken and sells eggs worth Ksh1.5 million each day.
Taita Taveta Land
Ruto while campaigning disclosed his ownership of a 2,536-acre piece of land in Taita Taveta. The land was previously owned by former Taveta MP Basil Criticos. According to Ruto, he acquired the land after helping former Taveta MP Basil Criticos to offset a loan he owed the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC).
“I am also an elder because I helped the former Taveta MP to settle his loan at AFC and he gave me a portion of land,” he said.
Ruto grows maize and rears cattle at the farm and has previously been accused of diverting water meant for area residents.
Koilel Farm Limited is also owned by the Rutos. It is based at their 430-acre Sugoi land parcel. The company sells maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). It was one of 12 firms investigated by EACC in 2018 over eyebrow-raising sales of maize to NCPB.
Ruto disclosed during campaigns that he owns 400,000 Safaricom shares. He further stated that he owns 80,000 Kenya Airways shares.