We will pioneer aircraft manufacturing in Kenya, says Raptor Global Corporation CEO
David Karuri, the Raptor Global Corporation (RGC) CEO, is a man of unusual talent. After serving in the US military for 15 years at the intelligence & security command, the masters in Information and Data Systems graduate of Cleveland State University, Ohio, retired to found RGC.
The year was 2006, when armed with Ksh6 million and three employees, he registered the company both in Kenya and the United States. RGC provides a wide range of services – from data management, property management, engineering energy, leasing & fleet management, defense systems, event management & catering, motors logistics, entertainment, media services and security systems.
In Kenya, Raptor Global has its main office at Hurlingham that doubles as the African regional headquarters with the global headquarters in Atlanta Georgia, USA. The company has 12 branches within East Africa and Central Africa and 24 worldwide.
Just 10 years into operation, Raptor Global has employs 625 permanent staff in Kenya and 1,722 across the globe. Last year alone, Raptor Global recorded a profit of 426 million, up from its first profit of Ksh38,000 in 2006. The annual turnover for the African region last year stood at Ksh3.6 billon and Ksh6.2 billion globally, Mr Karuri says.
“Business in the other branches within the EAC has not been that good with Ksh220 million in the past three years but we are working on them,” he says
But how did he reach the point where KSh200 million profit, which is more than some companies’ annual turnover, is not-so-good? “At the start we had to work across the clock, from office to office; to government offices, to universities to enlist top-notch personnel, engineers; to banks to seek for loans; we also had to go for both small and large multinational clients and NGOs.”
He says Raptor Global is a world-class organisation offering professional services. “Once we spot a gap we fill it! We have in our possession the greatest minds; all our software and hardware developers are sourced from local universities, even our staff at the United States,” he Karuri says. “I believe there is capacity in other countries, but I want to exhaust the Kenyan pool first. There is lots of talent in Kenya.”
RGC is currently digitising the National Police security systems. “The days of going to fill an OB (occurrence book) will be a thing of the past; even obtaining a police abstract will be done from the comfort of your smart phone. If somebody is missing, the police will only need to the person’s name and ID number, and the person will instantly be traced if they are within the county. It will be an All-Points-Bulletin (APB), assisted with CCTv systems,” he says.
The pilot project is slated to be complete by the end of this year.” Rollout will begin in Nairobi; then cover half the country in three years and entire country in six years.
“We strongly believe in innovation so we heavily invest in research & development (R&D). This year alone the company has committed Ksh800 million to R&D for a six-generation programme. We don’t build for today, we build for tomorrow,” says Mr Karuri.
“Look at the SGR project, how do you patrol over 10,000km? You need drones and sensors, and our Ksh1 billion drone-programme will have RT1, RT2 and RADS for such purposes. The same drones can also be used by construction engineers to offer photographic data,” he adds.
He says that the major problem has been financing. The tax rates are very high, while most tech-projects are capital intensive.
RGC is the dominant player in the region in this segment and envisions taking on large multi-national companies like DynCorp in years to come.
Lessons for business
Believe in your people, you don’t have to go very far. When those with resources and those with ideas hold hands, there’s no limit to how far you can go.
A regular SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis of yourself is critical, a tool he says he has used through his life.
Stay committed to your decisions, but be flexible in you approach. Always keep a cool head and work with other people. Find people who will listen to you and ask for their advice. Do not go looking for money at first, have them evaluate your work.
What the future holds
Here Karuri talks about smart economy. He says RGC is focusing on securing its base and have a presence Africa. “Anything that you could have gotten from say Asia, Europe not long ago, we will provide,” he says.
By 2018, after the completion of the Ksh800 million ICT Hub in Nakuru, RGC promises that the cost of technology in Kenya go will reduce by half. He projects the hub will create 10,000 jobs directly and 4,000 indirectly. “In not so many years RGC will pioneer aircraft-manufacturing in Kenya,” he says.
An excellent juggler of family and work, Mr Karuri offers his life philosophy as a parting shot: “Work diligently, believe in yourself, don’t wait for anybody to tell you and always believe God has purpose for you.”