Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the country just after tea and soft drinks. Java house is one of the best and dominant restaurants popular for its quality cup of authentic Kenyan coffee. Many Kenyans have always wondered who the man behind the success of this restaurant is. In this article, The African Torch brings you the story of Kevin Ashley – the man who founded Java House Africa.
Who is Kevin Ashley?
Kevin Ashley was born from Irish Parents who lived in the United States of America where he grew up and spent the better part of his childhood and teenage life. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the prestigious Pepperdine University. He started off his career in 1993 at World Food Program (WFP) as a Field Monitor before being promoted to become a Liaison officer in July 1994. He worked at WFP for close to two years before quitting and making the bold decision to relocate to Kenya in 1996.
Relocating to Kenya.
He moved to Kenya after he landed a job at an NGO known as Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NRRDO) as a Capacity Building Officer. NRRDO is Sudanese Humanitarian organization that seeks to help the people of the Nuba Mountain with basic needs such as food and clothing. The headquarters of the organization are situated at the 4th floor of All Afri9can Conference of Churches Building in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. He worked for the organization for two and a half months before leaving in 1998 to pursue other interests.
Establishing Java House.
In 1999 just a few months after quitting his job, Kevin Ashley in partnership with his friend Jon Wagner founded Java House. The first café was located at Adams Arcade along Ngong road which became a major success within a very short period of time. They began opening new branches of the restaurant in Nairobi and before they knew it, Java house had become a dominant brand in the coffee industry. Kevin as the CEO of the company, he oversaw its growth to expand into the larger East African market. He also steered the company to open other subsidiaries including 360 degrees pizza and Planet Yogurt. Currently Java house boasts of having over 80 branches in the East African region, receiving over 20,000 guests every day and employing over 2,500 workers.
In 2013, Kevin Ashley completed a successful share to Emerging Capital Partners, a Private Equity Company which owns the Artcafe restaurants in Nairobi. He however remained as the Executive Chairman of Java until September 2017 when he sold his remaining shares of the company to Abraaj Group.
Apart from co-founding Java House, Kevin Ashley is the co-founder of 748 air services – a company he established in 1998 together with his friend Ahmed Rashid Jibril. The airline now operates 12 aircrafts, travels to over 78 destinations and has employed over 250 workers. Kevin Ashley is also the owner of the famous Mercury Lounge in Nairobi. He is a Hospitality consultant and a Specialist in startups especially in the transportation and hospitality industries.