One for The Promising Entrepreneur; Lessons From The Late Jacob Juma

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  • Many atimes I find myself transposed reading an issue of the Forbes Magazine and one of The Times Magazine  and I am dumbfounded by the few Africans and moreso the few, if any Kenyans present in the list of the most affluent and influential personalities in the world as at 2016.  There are a lot of rich businessmen and businesswomen in Kenya and statistically a total of 8962 dollar millionaires in the country today but one can’t help but wonder why they’re not featured in the ‘top dollar list’, what is it that this successful and entrepreneurial minds miss? Now my articles never have a nefarious inclination so I shall dwell more on how we are and can be better rather than how we are not. And in addition to this how can young entrepreneur gradually join this twin money leagues.

    I think the biggest reason is because they are not adequately appreciated and drawn out as persons that can be emulated, I believe so much has been spoken, so many talks and speeches beautifully given but so few Kenyan plausible mentors highlighted. So today I would like to try and inspire an entrepreneur using one of our own. One who at the time of his demise had a business network estimated at over a Billion Kenyan shillings. One from a rather simple and humble upbringing. One who studied in a Kenyan University to wit, The University of Nairobi? One who made good friends and helped the community which raised him. One who created a network; Business and Romantic that transcended even the tribal line. One who at face value tried to make his money clean. With all his flaws today we celebrate the gas industry magnate that was Jacob Makokha Juma.

    The controversial  billionaire with shares under his company Cortec and its subsidiaries in South Africa and the United Kingdom trading as Cortec Mining Kenya Ltd, Erad Supplies and General  Contractors, Pacific Wildcat Resources Corp, Rio Tinto and First Western in the UK and owning over 20 acres of land in the up market Karen residential area. Jacob Juma was the very definition of a successful entrepreneur, a sign that Kenya can have it’s own Donald Trump, its own Carlos Slim Helu, Warren Buffett , Aliko Dangote inter alia. Most people see the controversy, the conspiracies behind his death but today I want to celebrate the successful entrepreneur that was JJ. Furthermore I would like to highlight some elements of his story that would inspire the all so regular but unique Kenyan Entrepreneur.


    It was crystal clear 3 years ago when his Excellency, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy were naming the cabinet that most employers had innocently ensconced themselves comfortably around the misplaced notion that foreign educated persons were better than local professionals, but JJ taught us that not only could we be employed but also even without being so employed we as locally educated professionals could join the big bucks league. The man was well worth billions and his lifestyle and success were a message that we can do it, the government sponsored student at a local university can do it and not only can we do it but we can do it big.



    Born in a small village in Mungore , Bumula Constituency,  Bungoma County and raised in a humble background, love him or hate him you have to concede to the fact that he was a true rugs to riches tale. An inspiration to all the small scale entrepreneurs and young people with a dream and vision of making it amidst all the challenges they may face to keep the dream alive. Now it is not that am saint washing the controversial businessman but I am a firm believer of giving credit where it’s due and whilst I saw the historic white helicopter fly over the village of the mostly mud strudded houses in Mung’ore village one thought was clear, the man had died big but began small.


    Now my dear reader before you chasticise me for drawing unsubstantiated inferences  from incomplete empirical data I wish to tell you that on record Jacob Juma made all his money clean and not one illegal or corrupt dealing is attached to his name.

    This is not the regular repuclensing ( read Reputation cleansing) that happens every time a prominent person or infamous politician dies especially under mysterious circumstances.

    One can even draw a direct comparison between JJ and Nigerian Billionaire Aliko Dangote, CEO of Dangote group which has interests in commodities such as Oil, Cement and Gas in Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, South Africa, Togo, Tanzania and Zambia. The juxtaposition can be seen in terms of the formers’ Cortec Mining estimated to be worth billions of shiilings with investments ranging from privately discovered minefields to government provided  contracts. The similarities are further alike taking into account that just like Dangote, JJ was the CEO  of the largest gas supplier to the SADC economic bloc, bigger than any single country supplying gas within that region.


    Marrying the sister of Nairobi billionaire  Jimmy Wanjigi was off course a fairy tale romantic affair but it cannot be gainsaid that it did confer upon him potent benefits that come with having a billionaire as an in law. Steadily going into the land selling business at the young age of 25 can be attributed to the already firmly established and ensconced Wanjigi Family Business.

    So what can an entrepreneur learn from this? you may wonder. It isn’t to marry the daughters and sisters of wealthy billionaires but to make connections even through romantic alliances, to network amongst persons from all walks of life, to view social interactions through a diversified eagles’ purview, to appreciate the fact that you can always learn something from someone and that first you must learn before you can remove the (l)earn.


    Through charities and informal trust funds and foundations the late JJ educated scores of children from his poverty stricken home town through high school and for some up to College and University level. During my research for this article I met one, Eunice Shiundu, a marketing officer at Nzoia Sugar Company who was a beneficiary of Mr. Juma’s generous philanthropy who was quick to say that the deceased had taken her through Primary school, a top notch Western high school and later through the Catholic University of East Africa. “…And this was just one of his kind acts.”  Said Eunice.


    Being a legal scholar I must say that it’s utterly impressive to have Mr. Ahmednassir Abdullahi within the ranks of your close associates. The man has a mind that can help grow your acumen and not only can he accord you proficient legal services but also his hive of networks all over East Africa and greater Africa can increase your potential for success through connecting you with the biggest companies around this side of the Greenwich Meridian. And not just the senior counsel but in addition to notable public figures such as Jimmie Wanjigi amongst a raft of other prominent businessmen and women within Nairobi and even to the greater East African Region.

    Meshack Masibo <>

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