Shrewd businessman who squeezed Sh1bn from Uhuru milk deal

He left State House, Nairobi, a happy man in November 2013 with only paperwork by respective lawyers pending

Sometime in October 2013, Zedekiah Bundotich received a call that would literally change his life. The caller invited him to state House to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was barely six months in office. He imagined a lot of things as he prepared to go to State House the following day – a cabinet or parastal appointment perhaps?

Well, nothing had prepared Bundotich — the founder of Buzeki Group of Companies, which specialises in transport and dairy products — for what awaited him in what would become one of the hallmarks of President Uhuru’s business acumen.

The meeting was short and to the point: the president wanted to buy his milk company Buzeki Dairy, the maker of Molo Milk and Kilifi Gold, in a deal that consolidated the Kenyatta family owned Brookside Dairy’s grip on Kenya’s formal milk market.

When President Uhuru offered him Ksh1 billion for the entire stake, he was more than willing to take it. He left State House, Nairobi, a happy man in November 2013 with only paperwork by respective lawyers pending.

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The deal put him closer to the Jubilee administration, nudging him to even venture into politics. He contested for the Uasin Gishu Governor position and nearly dislodged Jackson Mandago in last year’s General Election. Pushed out in nominations, he contested as an independent candidate, backed by Deputy President William Ruto, in a tight race split the county.

Through its flags

hip company, Brookside Dairies, the family has also bought out Ilara, Delamere, SpinKnit (makers of Tuzo milk brand), leading some critics to complain it has effectively become a monopoly. It also has operations in other African countries.

Initially, Bundotich had sought to sell 40% of his shareholding in the milk firm to the county governments of Nakuru, Baringo, Uasin Gishu, Keiyo Marakwet and Trans Nzoia at Ksh500 million. Kenyatta family, keen to control the milk market in the country, sweetened the deal by doubling the amount.

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The name Buzeki is derived from his names – Bundotich Zedekiah Kiprop. Bundotich owns the company with his sister, who is married to a white man who was the proprietor of Kilifi Gold Dairy and Farm in Kilifi County. This is where the businessman cut his teeth as the regional dairy sales manager.

Buzeki’s rise to wealth is the typical rags to riches story, which nearly sounds like that of William Ruto. He says he rose from a milk hawker in Mombasa to become a billionaire through sheer hard work and shrewdness. “I rose from obscurity. I used to hawk milk in Mombasa on a bicycle at night,” he said.

He says it was the right time to sell the company but blames Uasin Gishu politicians for denying locals the chance to own the company.

As the regional dairy sales manager for Kilifi Plantations between 1998 and 2000, he led an aggressive sales team and ensured successful milk sales volumes, driving the company to profitability and acquiring 80 percent of the milk market at the Coast.

He pioneered the introduction of Tuzo Milk and became the largest milk distributor in Coast Province for Spin Knit Kenya Limited (Tuzo holding company).

In 2004, he diversified into the transport business under Buzeki Enterprises Limited and managed to get contracts with corporate institutions like Bamburi Cement Ltd, UN-WFP among others.

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In May 2008, he initiated a processing and packaging division for dairy products named Buzeki Dairy Limited and acquired the first plant in Kilifi with a production output of 25,000 litres daily under the brand name New Kilifi Gold.

Two year later, in 2010, he acquired a second plant located in Mau Summit, Molo with a production output of 80,000 litres per day under the brand name Molo Milk.

Regarding the sale of his Molo Milk brand to Brookside Diaries, Buzeki says it was the right time to sell the company but blames Uasin Gishu county politicians for denying locals the chance to own the company.

High networth guy

“I wanted the locals to have the benefit of the county owning the company,” he said in an interview with Nairobian last year. “Uasin Gishu people lost a chance to have an investment that would have helped the farmers. Another interested party came and bought it. It’s business. Nothing is wrong with that.”

Buzeki House Buzeki owns multiple homes and has invested in the real estate industry. Mr Bundotich has a farmhouse in Ainbkoi, Uasin Gishu county, where he practices large-scale dairy farming. Buzeki Net Worth Forbes ranked Zedekiah Bundotich among the ten multi-millionaires from Kenya. Zedekiah made his first billion during his 30’s. The primary source of his wealth is the Buzeki Group of companies valued at billions of shillings.

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