First Lady Rachel Ruto has over the years built a public reputation as a staunch Christian and committed supporter of her husband, President William Ruto. She is also a businesswoman and leader in her own right.
Not only does the First Lady own significant stakes in several companies alongside Ruto and other family members, she also has key roles in the day to day running of many of the firms.
The Rutos have over the years built a multi-billion shilling empire with interests across sectors including real estate, hospitality, insurance and agriculture.
When two people were arrested for stealing 10 crates of eggs from the Rutos’ multi-billion shilling commercial poultry operation, Yegen farms, in Uasin Gishu 2019, it was reported that Rachel has the central supervisory role at the farm – which operates one of the country’s largest commercial hatcheries and, according to Ruto, sells eggs worth over Ksh1.5 million everyday.
Rachel Ruto also holds 6 shares in Matiny Limited, one of the most crucial entities in the President’s portfolio. It is through Matiny that Ruto has operated key real estate and hospitality investments. Rachel also serves as Company Secretary. Charlene Ruto, their daughter, holds one share in Matiny and also served as Weston Hotel’s Director of PR & Branding – in which Matiny holds a stake alongside individual family members.
Matiny was incorporated by the President in July 1996, a year before he made a successful first run for the Eldoret North MP seat under KANU. It is unclear at what point ownership was transferred to Rachel and Charlene.
Matiny raked in millions from lucrative government real estate contracts. 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 had 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.
Rachel Ruto is also actively involved in philanthropy through her Joyful Women’s Organization (JOYWO). The women empowerment organization claims to have over 100,000 members and operates programs including financial literacy training and table banking for women groups. According to the organization, it has a $12 million (Ksh1.7 billion) revolving fund.
Joywo counts major organizations including Johnson & Johnson Foundation and Hivos among its partners.