From 2 Hens to Owning a Bank, The Life of Nelson Muguku

Nelson Muguku, who eventually became the largest individual shareholder of Equity Bank, started his journey to wealth with very humble beginnings. In the 1950s, his most valuable possession was a bicycle. Muguku was born in 1932 in Kanyariri Village, Kiambu District. He learnt entrepreneurial skills from his father, Njoroge.

In his twenties, Muguku quit his college teaching job with only Ksh 2,000, two hens and one cock. This move was against the wishes of his parents and his white boss ridiculed him for it. With the help of his father, he started rearing chickens and married Leah Wanjiku, who was a teacher at Kagaa Primary School in Githunguri. In 1963, Wanjiku left her teaching job to join Muguku in poultry farming.

As his business grew, Muguku was able to purchase a 22-acre farm, Star Ltd, for Ksh 100,000 from a white veterinary doctor in 1965. He established a hatchery with a 9,000-egg incubator and renamed the farm Muguku Poultry Farm. The sale of day-old chicks and eggs brought him substantial wealth, and at one point, he supplied the last Governor of the colonial era, Sir Malcolm MacDonald, and even Kenya’s first Prime Minister, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

Muguku was known for ploughing back his profits into his business. He owned a computerised egg hatching incubator with four state-of-the-art incubators that had a capacity of producing more than 500,000 chicks daily. According to his younger brother, Professor Kihumbu Thairu, Muguku read the manual, operated and maintained the incubator until his death.

Aside from creating job opportunities for hundreds of youths on his expansive farm, Muguku established Kikuyu Township Primary School, Kidfarmaco Primary School, and Tumaini High School. He and his wife had seven children, and he was a philanthropist who made significant contributions to community development.

Muguku passed away on October 10, 2010, after becoming unconscious following a phone call with his youngest son who lived in the US.