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19/04/2013

Keroche Breweries Tabitha Karanja’s bold journey to the top.

In the years gone by, someone would have told Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja to steer away from the business of beer making and maybe focus her energy on a more “Woman friendly enterprise” But luckily enough, we are in a life time where women can do anything.

Tabitha Karanja dared to tread where many feared to tread since few were bold enough to go there. The market hadn’t been penetrated yet and the risk of incurring losses due to high competition from already established companies was high. But over the years since 1997, Tabitha has proved that no mountain is too high to scale.

She has been rated the second woman to watch in 2013 by Ventures Africa Magazine. She has also been rated among 13 other iconic women in Africa, and has also been featured on the CNN African Voices
program, a program that seeks to highlight successful Africans in continental Africa and in the diaspora. Here are some of her insights; from the interviews she has conducted to various media organizations.

What was your first job?
I worked as a librarian with a government parastatal. I later started a hardware business.

What challenges did you face while starting up Keroche Industry?
I battled with banks unwilling to part with desperately needed start-up capital, wealthy and exclusive competitors, uncooperative government officials and even a shut-down of my offices.

Who had the biggest impact on your career and why?
My family. I have always felt the responsibility to succeed and never fail them. They have also held me up and encouraged me during tough times.

What keeps you awake at night?
I owe the success of Keroche Breweries to Kenyans who decided to support me no matter what. How to satisfy our customers keeps me awake. We are currently thinking of expanding the beer section. I will be at ease when I know Kenyans can get constant and regular supply of their beer throughout the country.

What are the top reasons for your success in business?
Having a vision, a dream, and a cause. Hard work and resilience have also been key. Finding the right team to work with you is also paramount.

What challenges have you had to deal with in recent years?

In 2003 over ten depots in Central Province were raided by the provincial administration. I almost gave up as many forces including politicians and provincial administration conspired to bring down my emerging business.

But when I thought of my dreams crumbling down, I would get renewed energy and this motivated and made me stronger.

What are your future career plans?

My future lies here at Keroche Breweries. Right now our focus is to build more on the five year strategic plan for the company. We are hoping to fully increase our market share in Kenya to 30 percent and 20 percent in the spirit and beer markets respectively. Then we hope in the next three years to explore the East African market before finally going African. My dream is to see Keroche grow to the whole of Africa.

What is your message for Africa’s aspiring young business people and entrepreneurs?
In whatever you do, money shouldn’t be your only objective.

As a mother of two boys and two girls, I always have time for the family despite my busy schedule. In most cases, dinners are shared and birthdays are marked in a special way as ‘family is the best thing in my busy schedule’. My advice to fellow women is to be strong and not to shy off from their dreams as nothing is impossible.

“I knew what I wanted in life and I worked day and night to achieve it and here I am.” Tabitha concludes.

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