Kenyan football leagues continue to grow by year despite the recurrent impediments of poor leadership that has to a great extent hindered talent development in Kenya.
However, despite the struggles, a section of clubs within Kenya's leagues enjoy good management due to the single owner model, compared to those which are communally owned.
In this segment, Nairobileo.co.ke takes a look at some of the individuals who own clubs plying their trade in the Kenya Premier League (KPL).
The former Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president is the owner of Kariobangi Sharks. He founded the team in the early 2000s and successfully guided it to the KPL.
His path to founding the club is quite interesting. Mwendwa used to see a group of boys playing football at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church grounds in Kariobangi and their passion for the game appealed to him.
He decided to join them to offer guidance and assistance in terms of balls and jerseys. He later started training them on weekends when he was off from work and with time he built a well structured and organized team. They settled on the name Kariobangi Sharks and Mwendwa registered the team in February 2001.
The team plied their trade in the lower leagues until they beat Nzoia United in the finals of the National Super League (NSL) in the 2015/16 season and secured promotion to KPL.
Bhimji Depar Shah – Bidco United FC
Billionaire industrialist Bhimji Depar Shah is the founder and chairman of Bidco United. He has steered the Thika-based club since its formations and seen it go from the zonal league through to KPL.
The businessman is also the founder and chairman of Bidco Group of Companies – a family-owned manufacturing conglomerate with subsidiaries across 13 African countries.
Shah was recently named among the richest people in Kenya with a net worth of about $700 million.
Ricardo Badoer – Wazito FC
The Dubai-based Swedish billionaire is the owner of Wazito FC.
According to reports, he splashed over Ksh80 million in the acquisition of Wazito FC from its founder Solomon Alubala in December 2018.
Badoer is a huge football fan and also owns CD Ursaria – a team that plays in the Spanish fifth tier.
The businessman has invested heavily in transforming the fortunes at Wazito FC, seeing them promoted from the NSL to KPL two years ago.
Badoer boasts a vast investment portfolio with interests in banking, real estate and media.
According to reports, he is the major shareholder at Sumac Microfinance Bank in Kenya and Hakika Bank in Tanzania where he is among the board of directors.
Jonathan Jackson – Nairobi City Stars
The Nairobi City Stars owner is a Kenyan billionaire born and raised in Eldoret but with British roots.
Jackson bought the KPL club through his foundation ‘Jonathan Jackson Foundation' whose main aim was to transform the lives of Kenyan youths through sports and arts.
He set up the football club through his foundation with the aim of giving the young youths a platform to showcase and enhance their football skills and talents.
Jackson is the founder of Lordship Group, a company that has invested heavily in Real Estate in several African countries.
Elly Kalekwa – Sofapaka
Popularly known as ‘Prezda’, the Congolese businessman owns Sofapaka Fc which simply stands for ‘Sote Kama Familia Kwa Pamoja Kuafikia Azimio.’
The club is has established itself as a mainstay in Kenya's top tier league. Sofapaka won the KPL title in 2009.
According to reports, Kalekwa is a business mogul with vast interests in the hotel industry, real estate and transport sectors in Kenya and Cyprus.
Kalekwa played a major role in revolutionising Kenyan football. He was the first owner to introduce professional contracts and the sale of players in KPL.
He was also the first owner to establish an official office and bought the club a team bus making it the first team in Kenya to achieve such milestones.
Bob Munro – Mathare United
The Canadian-born entrepreneur founded the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in 1987 when he worked as an advisor for the United Nations in Nairobi.
MYSA’s main aim was to support young talented children from Nairobi's informal settlements by giving them an opportunity to compete against each other in football under structured fixtures.
Munro founded Mathare United in 1994 and oversaw the teams development and promotion to the KPL.
He is the only football club owner to own both a men’s and women’s team with the Mathare United Ladies’ Football Club participating in the Kenyan Women’s Premier League.
Ken Ochieng – Zoo FC
Ochieng, a lawyer, founded Zoo Kericho FC in 2009 despite concerns that the region was only famous for running not football.
He single-handedly oversaw the club's development from competing in the lower leagues to their participation in the KPL.
Ochieng funds the team with money he generates his law firm – Ochieng K and Associates.
Cleophas Shimanyula – Kakamega Homeboyz FC
He is popularly known to some in Kakamega as "Totoo".
Shimanyula founded the Homeboyz and single-handedly funded the club while overseeing its progress over the years.
The club has grown to become a major force in the KPL and has since attracted support from the County Government of Kakamega and Betting firms came on board to sponsor the club.
Shimanyula owns the Western Cross Express Company Limited – a company in the transport sector that runs a fleet of Matatus plying the Western and Nyanza routes.
Laban Jobita – Western Stima
Jobita founded the Kisumu-based team in 1997 and three years later he got sponsorship from Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC).
However, Kenya Power terminated the sponsorship in 2020 due to economic constraints occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.