Afia Juice is arguably the most popular juice among many Kenyans. This fruit juice has dominantly grown to become a household name in Kenya such that you are most likely to find the bottle even in the interior parts of Kenya such as Marsabit and Taita Taveta. Most Kenyans have always wondered who the man behind this amazing product is. Worry no more because in this article, The African Torch brings you the story of billionaire Kimani Rugendo – the man behind afia and peek and peel fruit juices.
The journey of Kimani Rugendo.
Kimani Rugendo began his journey as a politician back in the 19th century. He was at some point the Chairman of the now defunct Ford-Asili political party. He vied for the Langata constituency parliamentary seat in 1992 and unfortunately lost to Raila Odinga after investing a lot of money in the campaigns. This experience shifted his mindset and decided to leave politics and instead try his luck in business. He joined the purified water business whereby he began producing bottled water under the brand name ‘Mt Kenyan.’ He would supply the bottles of water to tourist hotels in Mombasa as well as a few small supermarkets in Nairobi. He did the business for three years until 1995 when he was able to raise Ksh 25 million from the business savings and help from close friends and family members. He used the amount to establish Kevian Kenya Limited.
Kevian Kenya Limited.
Kimani and his wife, Helen, came up with a unique idea of producing fruit juices in the country. They launched their first two brands – afia and peek and peel which immediately became a major success for them.
“We looked at what we had and the raw material we had was water. This got us thinking on how we would add value to the water. We opted to produce fruit juices and right now Kevian Kenya Limited has grown to establish two plants, one on Ngong road and another in Thika,” explained Helen, Kimani’s wife while speaking to one of the local dailies.
Achievements of Kevian Kenya Limited.
The company’s products are currently being sold in as far as Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda, Sudan and Tanzania. This demand prompted the company to build a second factory in Thika in 2005 which is able to produce 20,000 liters of peek and peel juices per hour and 40,000 liters of afia juice every hour. The company has recently diversified to produce carbonated variants of non-alcoholic drinks such as Plain malt, energy malt, orange malt and lemon malt. On 9th April 2019, Kimani was able to secure a Ksh 1.3 billion loan from Deutsche Investitions – und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) – a development finance institution run by the German government. The financial help has helped the company develop its own brand of coffee, tomato sauce and packed vegetable soup that targets the middle-class shoppers and high end hotels. The Thika-based plant is able to produce up to 250 tons of these new products.
Kimani Rugendo’s other interests
The billionaire is the founder of Sterling Kenya Limited – a company that mainly produces tanks. The company produces up to 100 tanks every six hours and is estimated to be worth Ksh 500 million. He also owns Sterling Craft Limited – a company that manufactures industrial equipment and military regalia. It supplies berets, medallions and ceremonial swords to the Kenya Police and Kenya Defense Forces (KDF). The company also produces generators, fittings, pipes and milking machines among many other equipment.