Top league club owners in the country and their source of wealth
Football in Kenya may still be semi-professional, but lovers of the game are working around the clock, pumping a huge amount of money in pushing the country’s most popular sport to the next level. Here, People Sport’s Gibo Zachary looks at the top 10 Kenyan Premier League club owners.
1. Ricardo Badoer | Wazito FC, CD Ursaria, Spain
The no-nonsense club owner who is fond of using unprintable words on social media to express his displeasure whenever his team falls short of his expectations, is best known in Kenyan football for his ownership of league side Wazito FC, but he also owns a Spanish fifth tier side, CD Ursaria. Ricardo loves football so much that he’s rumoured to have spent over Sh80 million on Wazito FC since taking over the club in December 2018 from the founder Solomon Alubala. The Big Boss, as Badoer is fondly referred in the local football circus, is a Swedish tycoon based in Dubai with interest in various sectors ranging from banking, real estate, media and equity. He holds major shares at Sumac Microfinance Bank in Kenya and Tanzania-based Hakika Microfinance Bank where he also sits in the board of directors. He is also the founder of Badoer Investment Ltd, a company which recently agreed an equity stake with Uganda’s ALTX East Africa Group.
2. Nick Mwendwa | Kariobangi Sharks
The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president also doubles up as the Kariobangi Sharks club owner. His love for the sport is unrivaled going by the fact that he has bankrolled the team from the lower leagues to the apex of the local football. Mwendwa is a Kenyan businessman and a techprenuer. He is the CEO, Riverbank Solutions Ltd, a fintech company that develops innovative mobile payment solutions locally and internationally, as well as Swiggo Ltd, an online shopping platform.
3. Elly Kalekwa | Sofapaka FC
Popularly referred to as ‘Prezda’ (President), he is the founder, and club owner of 2009 Kenyan Premier League Champions, Sofapaka FC. Sofapaka is an acronym for ‘Sote Kama Familia kwa Pamoja Kuafikia Azimio’ the mouthful that loosely translates to mean, ‘We as a family together to achieve a goal.’ Kalekwa, who is believed to be having Congolese and Rwandese roots, is a business mogul with interest in transport sector, real estate and hotel industry locally, in Uganda and Cyprus. It is believed that he had spent over Sh100m on the team by the end of 2016. He is credited for making revolutionary history by transforming Kenyan football by introducing professional contracts in the club and selling of players, making Sofapaka the first team to own a bus and have a physical office.
4. Jonathan Jackson | Nairobi City Stars
The billionaire acquired Nairobi City Stars club through his Jonathan Jackson Foundation, a charity he set up to change the lives of Kenyan youth through sports and art, a community focused non-profit organisation based in Nairobi and geared towards women and youth empowerment. Jonathan, is a highly acclaimed Kenyan real estate billionaire with interests in Europe, and numerous African countries. Born and raised in Eldoret to a Kenyan-born English father and an English mother, he owns several properties across the world through his Lordship Group.
5. Kahi Indimuli | Vihiga United
Vihiga United under the sponsorship of the county government of Vihiga, is under the leadership of Kahi Indimuli who is the National Chairman Kenya Secondary School Heads’ Association (KSSHA), and Principal of Machakos School. He is the former chief principal of Chavakali High School, during which time he received an award as an outstanding principal ‘Shujaa of the year 2016’. Indimuli is also the head of the Africa Confederation of Principals and Council member of the International Confederation of Principals. He is a great contributor in the education sector in his role as a member of the task force on CBC education and task force on the COVID-19 education response committee. Before, Vihiga County came to sponsor the Premier League side, club owner Indimuli used to fully finance the team from his pocket.
6. Cleophas Shimanyula | Kakamega Homeboyz
A Kakamega-based businessman, Shimanyula is the founder and owner of league side Kakamega Homeboyz. The outspoken millionaire has been single-handedly giving financial support to the team before the county government and a foreign betting company chipped in. He has a story of rag to riches laced with political wheeler-dealing, rising from a matatu tout to an owner of a fleet of public and private transport vehicles. Homeboyz is Shimanyula’s prized asset that has endeared him to the Kakamega people and strengthened his hand to pursue greater business and political interest under his multi-million Western Cross Express Company Limited.
7. Bhimji Depar Shah & Family | Bidco United FC
The Shah family are the owners of Bidco United Football Club, with Bhimji Depar Shah being the face of the family’s football enterprise, serving as chairman, and founder of the club. Bhimji Depar Shah, is a Kenyan businessman, industrialist and entrepreneur, a founder and current chair of Bidco Group of Companies, a Kenya-based, family-owned manufacturing conglomerate with businesses in 13 African countries. According to Forbes annual ranking of Africa, Bhimji Depar Shah is the richest man in Kenya, and 31st richest man in Africa with a net worth of Sh77 billion ($700 million) as of November 2015.
8. Laban Jobita | Western Stima
Jobita is the current club owner of Kisumu based league side Western Stima FC. Jobita founded Stima in 1997 and in 2000 got a sponsorship from Kenya Power and Lighting Company until late last year when the financial support was brought to an end but club chairman Jobita vowed to ensure that the club remains afloat. Jobita, who is a supervisor at the company, and a lover of football, is said to be digging deep on his pocket to personally fund the team.
9. Bob Munro | Mathare United
Canadian-born Munro is the visionary club founder, and owner of Mathare United. In 1987, while serving as an advisor at the time for the United Nations in Nairobi, for environmental policy, water resources management, and sustainable development for African governments, he founded Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), a pioneering self-help youth sports development project in Mathare slums focusing on youth participating in the MYSA sports, environmental cleanups, Aids prevention, leadership training, jailed kids, photography, music and other community service activities. The Managing Director of XXCEL Africa Ltd, a development consultancy company, founded Mathare United FC in 1994, and, he’s the only football club owner with a women’s football team called Mathare United Ladies’ Football Club, which currently competes in the Kenyan Women’s Premier League. Munro and his Swedish wife Ingrid, founded and manage Jamii Bora.
10. Ken Ochieng | Zoo FC
Kericho-based Zoo FC may not have a huge pool of national and international professional players, but their owner Ken Ochieng is an influential flashy businessman in the corridors of justice having founded the team in 2009, at a region widely known for athletics with some of the best long distance runners hailing from the area. Ochieng who single-handedly funds the team from the little he gets from his law firm Ochieng K & Associates, has made a name for himself in Kericho for owning a football club featuring in the country’s top tier league.