Not many people in their early 30s have had a chance to lead a multi-billion shilling project as Kenneth has. Since May 2018, he has been the managing director of Vipingo Development, a subsidiary of Centum Real Estate.
The project he heads is an ambitious initiative on a 10,254-acre parcel of land that until 2018 was a sisal plantation in Kilifi County.
“Over the last three years, I have transformed Vipingo Development from a Sh5 billion asset (sisal plantation) to a Sh20 billion business with Sh7 billion in sales turnover and Sh5.3 billion in cash collection. The business has grown from two employees to over 20 and created over 1,500 direct construction-related jobs.”
So, can he say he has already made his first billion?
"You need to have the capability to deliver extraordinary results. And you need to demonstrate potential because Centum gives enormous responsibility to young and not-very-experienced colleagues the opportunity to make a difference. "
“Not myself,” he answers, letting the credit go to Centum, which has been his employer since 2011. “But I know how to create one, two, three, or several billions from zero. That I know.”
Kenneth studied biochemistry at Kenyatta University, graduating in 2010. He joined Centum the following year as an intern and it did not take long for him to realise that he had a thing for real estate.
Before being the managing director of the Vipingo project, he was the deputy managing director for Centum’s project called Athena Properties. This is the project that delivered Two Rivers Mall.
So, what does it take to be MD of a major Centum project like the Vipingo one, which aims to be a model East African city?
Kenneth says it requires grit.
“You need to have the capability to deliver extraordinary results. And you need to demonstrate potential because Centum gives enormous responsibility to young and not-very-experienced colleagues the opportunity to make a difference. So, if you demonstrate the hunger, the drive, and the ability to deliver results, the sky is the limit here.”
He is sure to note Centum’s philosophy of giving young people a chance to take up leadership projects “even when you have no reason to be given anything,” also noting that the company’s CEO James Mworia has taught him a lot in the field.
“I would say 90 per cent of what I am professionally is by Mworia’s training. I have learned a lot from him.”
Kenneth is married and a father of one.
– Elvis Ondieki