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The inspiring story of Sabina Joy landlord Gerald Gikonyo & how he made his billions

According to the family, the billionaire died while recovering at his home along Luthuli Avenue in Nairobi

Pioneer businessman Mzee Gerald Gikonyo

For decades until his death, Gerald Gikonyo, was a towering figure in Kenya's business landscape.

From humble beginnings to billionare status, Gikonyo's story is nothing but inspiring.

For Gikonyo, it began in the 1930s when he set his eyes on Nairobi while struggling to make ends meet with his friend Gerishon Kirima who is now deceased.

Arriving in Nairobi from Rwathia village in Murang'a in tattered clothes with nothing but a desire to provide for his family.

His first hustle was selling cabbages next to his friend Kirima at Marikiti.

He also resorted to hawking in neighbourhoods populated by Indians.

Little did he know that he would hawk his way to wealth and attain billionaire status.

“Selling vegetables was tough because if it was raining, you would have to work in the rain. And you had to rush so that you did not find the families had already cooked," Gikonyo explained in an earlier interview in 2021.

His entrepreneurial prowess became clear when saved enough money and opened a hotel.

Having experienced challenges himself, Gikonyo was keen on offering opportunities to others.

He at some point employed former Equity Bank Chairman, Peter Munga as a casual labourer in one of his businesses.

Keen on expanding his revenue streams, Gikonyo farmed coffee and joined the Kenya Planters Co-operative Union’s coffee mill coffee plantation farmer.

By this time, Gikonyo had already decided that formal employment was not his thing.

1947 marked a significant turning point in his story.

The shrewd businessman teamed up with five friends and established Mwihoko General and Rwathia Supplies.

With his prior experience operating a hotel, the group put up a hotel and taked him with managing it with a colleague.

Money began pouring in and the group saved diligently.

With Kenya on its way to independence, 1950's, saw a number of white settlers put their farms and buildings on sale.

Gikonyo partnered with friends and used their savings to buy property and buildings across the city.

Among the building that the acquired is the one that houses Sabina Joy along Moi Avenue.

The group also bought plots on whit commercial and residential buildings were constructed.

It was not all smooth as it may sound for the billionaire.

The clamour independence saw Maumau engage the colonial government in the fight for independence with disruption to the economy.

It is at this point that Gikonyo and his team decided set their eyes on accessing the city center to expand their empire.

In 1952, the groups started acquiring entire plots and constructing commercial and residential buildings. The ride was not that easy as shortly after, the Mau Mau soldiers disrupted the economy.

“When we returned, we decided that we would henceforth enter the city centre, where we were not allowed before. Our idea was to rent buildings and start businesses." He recounted.

“But most of the buildings we wanted to rent were owned by Asians. They were fearful of the Mau Mau, so many of them were migrating from Kenya and selling those buildings. This is how we started buying some of the buildings that we own to date," explained Gikonyo.

Many decades later, what started as a small company owned by friends has expanded to more than 50 companies employing more than 100,000 people.

By the time of his death at age 110 years old, Gikonyo had left a mark.

Gikonyo's residence on Luthuli Avenue in Nairobi is another noteworthy asset.

This home, where he spent his final days, is emblematic of his deep roots in the city.

Nestled in the busy Central Business District, the home is not just a residence but also a symbol of his enduring connection to the heart of Nairobi's commercial activities.

Although little is known on his family life, reports indicate that he had four wives, 23 children and hundred of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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