Benjamin Kimani, 35

General Manager

Muthokinju Paints

Benjamin took over Muthokinju Paints & Cement at 24. Eleven years later, the company has become a model of successful family businesses in Kenya and the region.

Now with 17 branches, the company that started as a single shop at the turn of the last century is headed for even more glory, establishing itself as a leading supplier of building materials.

The Master’s of Business Finance graduate from Edith Cowan University, Australia, attributed humility and people skills for propelling him to his career highs.

‘‘I took over a business that already had a good name. I give credit to my parents for building goodwill. I’ve been able to amplify their values by playing in a bigger space than they did.’’

"‘‘I took over a business that already had a good name. I give credit to my parents for building goodwill.""

Benjamin, a member of Young President’s Organisation, prides himself on digitising the company’s operations. Muthokinju intends to go completely paperless by next year. “I want to ensure that our systems and processes are lean by minimising inefficiencies.”

His dream? “To continue building a brand that is known for providing affordable building materials.” But also to safeguard the reputation that his parents built for over two decades.

Exposure to the family business as a child shaped his work ethic and nurtured his desire to be involved in its operations. “I used to hang around our first shop. I’d accompany my father to wherever he went.”

‘‘My time in Australia also allowed me to see possibilities and to believe in my abilities.’’

These are the same business values he intends to inculcate in his three children for posterity of the empire. Already, his family has developed a constitution that will guide the entry of future generations into the business.

‘‘Successful family businesses in the world have a document that guides their transitions, especially in resolving disputes. We’re intentional about ensuring that we (family members) engage with the business professionally.’’ Benjamin believes the redemption of African businesses lies in professionalism.

Delayed gratification, he notes, allows one to invest in the right places, and to wait for bigger successes. “You don’t have to get everything at once. Let things come to you at the right time.’’