Ravi Patel, 39

Co-founder and CEO

Subati Group

Although Ravi studied banking and international finance, his heart was not in it. Still, he went on to ett a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Bristol, UK, and later a Mastera of Science in Banking and International Finance from CASS Business School, also in the UK.

After working briefly in investment banking, he realised it was not something he really wanted to do. He flew back home to Kenya to chart a new path.

His eureka moment came in mid-2007.

“I met my business partner who introduced me to floriculture. We purchased a small flower farm in Subukia,” he recalls Patel found his path but it was not an instant bed of roses.

He was soon to encounter his first challenge: Tradition.

“Traditionally, farming has been a business that is supposed to be in your blood and passed down through generations.”

Patel had neither. All he had was passion, drive and perseverance and it was all he required to grow.

In the beginning, the two co-founders were harvesting 750,000 stems of 12 different rose varieties and had a workforce of 300.

Today, they export over 95 million stems a year of 280 different rose varieties to 25 countries around the world and directly employ 3,000 people (65 per cent of them women). They also support 10,000 others.

The second (and on-going) challenge is having a proper worklife balance. With a wife and two sons, Patel is always working to ensure his schedule fits into his family life.

His latest achievement is building a herb farm from scratch. About 18 months later, the farm is employing 1,000 people, becoming a small town on its own.

His advice to the youth is simple: “Hard works pays and everything starts with a single step.”

Away from work, he enjoys spending time with his family and playing golf.

–Purity Wanjohi