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Meet the little-known tycoons who own Muthokinju Paints and Cement

by Samantha
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As you walk in various parts of Nairobi you might have come across buildings named Muthokinju Paints and Cement Hardware.

This is a family-owned business founded by Susan Muthoni Kimani and Barnabas Njuguna.

It has grown from a humble hardware and paint store in Kasarani, Nairobi, to a nationwide phenomenon with branches in key locations such as Juja, Ngong, Rongai, Karatina, Kenol, Kasarani, Embu, Thika, Murang’a, Kitengela, and Kiambu Road.

The story of Muthokinju started in 1995 when Muthoni and Njuguna made a  shift from the restaurant business, where they ran Mama Safi at Kenyatta Market.

Faced with the challenges of dealing with perishable goods and the inevitable waste associated with the restaurant industry, the duo sought a more sustainable venture.

Thus, Muthokinju, an amalgamation of their names and their son’s, Kimani, came into being.

Little did they know that this decision would shape the future of their family and leave an indelible mark on the construction industry.

As the business gained traction, plans for expansion materialized.

In 2004, Muthokinju took a significant step by incorporating as a Limited Company, a move that legally shielded shareholders from excessive liability. This strategic decision set the stage for the company’s future growth and solidified its position in the construction industry.

Seven years after its incorporation, the founders’ only heir, Benjamin Kimani, assumed the reins of the family business at the age of 24. Tasked with steering Muthokinju towards further success through expansion strategies and market penetration, Kimani embraced the challenge with determination and vision.

In an interview with Business Daily, he acknowledged the privilege of inheriting a business with a sterling reputation.

“I took over a business that already had a good name. I give credit to my parents for building goodwill. I have been able to amplify their values by playing in a bigger space than they did,” Kimani stated.

The thought of overhauling the business model by changing the name crossed Kimani’s mind at one point, but he ultimately decided against it. The established presence and legacy of his parents were too significant to discard.

Under Benjamin Kimani’s leadership, Muthokinju has flourished, expanding its footprint to include branches in Juja, Ngong, Rongai, Karatina, Kenol, Kasarani, Embu, Thika, Murang’a, Kitengela, Kiambu Road, and beyond. Kimani’s agility and adaptability in navigating the complex and volatile business landscape have been instrumental in the company’s sustained success.

“I’m very agile. We’re living in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) business world that requires us to have strong values. If you threw me anywhere, I’d find a way to adapt,” he affirmed.

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