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John Mbugua: Meet Class Seven Dropout turned Butchery Tycoon who won tenders to supply meat at State House

by Samantha
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John Mbugua, a Class Seven dropout, defied the odds and transformed from an ordinary butcher into one of Kenya’s quintessential entrepreneurs, serving an impressive clientele that includes the prestigious State House.

Mbugua’s journey into entrepreneurship began with humble roots. Leaving school while at class seven, he ventured into the fresh meat trade, a seemingly ordinary profession.

However, beneath the surface lay a visionary mind that would revolutionize his industry and attract a list of high-flying clients that most could only dream of.

At the heart of this inspiring saga is Jojen Butchery, Mbugua’s brainchild, located in the outskirts of Nairobi. For more than two decades, this unassuming establishment has been the source of succulent meats that have graced the tables of both ordinary households and the highest echelons of power.

What sets Mbugua apart is not just his knack for delivering premium products, but his ability to build and maintain relationships that have stood the test of time.

One of the crowning jewels in Mbugua’s impressive portfolio is his connection to State House, the official residence of the Kenyan President.

A relationship spanning three different presidential regimes speaks volumes about Mbugua’s reliability, consistency, and the trust he has earned.

From the era of Daniel arap Moi to Mwai Kibaki and now President Uhuru Kenyatta, Mbugua’s meats have graced the tables of the nation’s leaders.

Jojen Butchery, born out of Mbugua’s determination and entrepreneurial spirit, started as a modest enterprise in Dagoretti township. Armed with a mere Sh6,000 and an unwavering determination, he opened a small makeshift premise along Dagoretti Road.

Here, he embarked on a journey that would not only satisfy the palates of many but also create a legacy of excellence.

Mbugua’s rise wasn’t without its challenges. In a business that demanded constant interaction with a diverse range of clients, he managed to maintain an air of privacy, shying away from the spotlight.

When approached by the media for an interview, he expressed a fear of the potential negative impact on his success, citing examples of those who had seen their fortunes wane after exposing their stories.

The roots of Mbugua’s passion for entrepreneurship trace back to 1979 when he first attempted a business proposal that failed to secure financing. Undeterred by this setback, he joined a manufacturing company, where he toiled for three years before deciding to forge his own path. Collaborating with his brother, he entered the taxi business, which eventually led him to the world of meat trading.

Mbugua’s journey into the meat trade was marked by determination, learning, and adaptability. From loading meat in a slaughterhouse to establishing his own butchery, he honed his skills and navigated the intricate nuances of the industry.

Operating on a shoestring budget, Mbugua’s wife took on the roles of cleaner and cook, while he spearheaded marketing efforts.

His relentless pursuit of excellence paid off as Jojen Butchery flourished. Within two years, the business outgrew its initial space, prompting Mbugua to secure a loan from Co-operative Bank.

This financial boost allowed him to expand his enterprise and set up shop in a commercial building owned by the late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai’s former husband, Mwangi Mathai. And thus, Jojen Butchery was reborn as an acronym for “John and Jennifer,” his wife.

Mbugua’s client list burgeoned from Lenana School to encompass Parliament, Kenya Railways, and prestigious hotels. The pinnacle of his achievement came with his association with State House.

Reflecting on his interactions with presidents past and present, Mbugua speaks highly of his experiences.

He describes President Moi as a good person to do business with and praises President Kenyatta’s understanding and human touch.

“President Kenyatta is a real gentleman with a human touch and understands issues. I have so far enjoyed working with him,” he says of the current State House occupant.

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