The Founder and CEO of Keroche Breweries Ltd Tabitha Karanja has challenged Kenyan scholars to seriously reflect on “what needs to be done to produce innovative brands that will meet international standards” so as to eliminate poverty, create job opportunities.
The leading entrepreneur was speaking to University professors at JKUAT where she was the chief guest during the annual professorial luncheon hosted by the institution in honour of its scholars for their exceptional intellectual contribution, mentorship and community service.
While sharing the experience of growing the Keroche industry’s success story, Ms Karanja, noted with appreciation the role played by institutions of higher learning, noting that “your brands are the ones moving the country’s economy. 85 percent of jobs at Keroche are done by professionals from local universities in the areas of engineering, quality analysis, and marketing among others.”
She further said, 90 percent of us have benefited from what we learnt from our schools and universities. We appreciate you as our role models, and urged the professors not to give up in their quest to transform the economy and the country at large.”
Drawing from 18 years of growing Keroche as an entrepreneur, the CEO, in retrospect, reflected on the many obstacles she had to surmount including from established multi-nationals who enjoyed a monopoly in the liquor industry at the time and said, her firm had launched Keroche Foundation to “give a hand up, and not handouts, to reciprocate Kenyans for supporting Keroche Breweries over the years, in the face of stiff competition and monopoly from the multi-nationals.”
Karanja said the Government could draw from the challenges experienced by Keroche Breweries to support young innovative Kenyans keen on venturing into entrepreneurship. “There are a lot of business opportunities in Africa and what entrepreneurs need is support to actualize their business dreams,” she said.
Vice Chancellor Prof. Mabel Imbuga appreciated the humble presence of Keroche Breweries CEO and that of its subsidiary; Keroche Foundation Mr. Joseph Nyongesa, whose presence she noted, provided a perfect opportunity for JKUAT to interact and share with the captains of the industry like Mrs. Tabitha Karanja.”
The Vice Chancellor observed that “JKUAT is happy to partner with Keroche Foundation to mentor JKUAT in entrepreneurship, ”and reiterated JKUAT’s readiness to learn from Keroche as envisaged under the existing partnership which will take JKUAT innovative products to a new level.
Prof. Imbuga said: “we have rare products that we would like Kenyans to partake off. The main issue remains: how do we get them out there?”
The university, the Vice Chancellor said, “is keen on developing a viable entrepreneurial skills’ culture in addition to the JKUAT’s core mandate of training, research and innovation” in order to among others, increase the university’s revenue streams in the face of dwindling State funding to institutions of higher learning over the years.
Besides mentoring budding scholars and enhancing the university’s profile in training, research and innovation, Prof. Imbuga challenged professors to embrace entrepreneurship. “… You have made it in academia; you can also make it in entrepreneurship.”
The professorial luncheon is a major highlight on the university calendar ahead of the Graduation where the university management recognizes the achievements and contribution of its scholars in academia and service to the community.
Others scholars who spoke at the function included the Deputy Vice Chancellors Prof. Romanus Odhiambo(Academic Affairs), Prof. Esther Kahangi (Research Production and Extension) and the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration, Planning and Development ) Prof. Victoria Ngumi.