In life, how you start rarely matters, what most people focus on is how you finish. Success is always measured by how you finished as opposed to how you started, infact, people who start poorly and finish strongly are always deemed more successful as opposed to the ones who started on a high and ended on a high.

This is the case for a couple of Kenyan billionaires who started out as police officers; a career considered to be among the least paying, to become among the wealthiest in the country.

In this article, Nairobileo.co.ke reviews how 5 Kenyans who started out as officers in different units of the police service grew to become billionaires and some of the richest and most respected businessmen in the country.

James Mageria

The late James Mageria was born in 1941 and joined the police service in the 60s after completing his secondary education at Alliance High School. He started out as a junior officer but grew in rank to be one of the senior trainers at the police college.

Speaking in a past interview, Mageria said he was inspired to join the police service after witnessing the suffering of Mau Mau soldiers during the fight for independence.

"I was a police officer, I’m no longer one. Now young police officers stop me and say, “mzee leta licence” they don’t know I trained their commissioners when I was at Kenya Police College," Mageria said during an interview with Business Daily.

After his stint in the police service, he took a job at the American Express and grew in rank to be one of the company's youngest executives at the time.

In 2006, he teamed up with Dr. Dan Gikonyo and his wife Betty to establish the Karen Hospital where he served as Chairman until his death in September 2021. At the time of his death, he was among the 42 billionaires in the country then.


The late James Mageria. [Photo: Courtesy]

Jimi Wanjigi

Prior to being a renowned businessman and kingmaker in the Kenyan political scene, Jimi Wanjigi was once a policeman. He served as a reservist and grew to be an inspector before being dismissed from the service.

Reports indicate that Wanjigi was dismissed from the service after threatening a colleague.

"The suspect was a police officer of the rank of an inspector of police (reserve). He was sacked and stripped off all his police powers and ordered to surrender all firearms and ammunition in his custody. He, however, later had his way after some time and was given back his firearms but never reinstated in the police service," the DCI submitted during a case in court.

Wanjigi is now a multi-billion businessman and politician. He is currently serving as the CEO of Kwacha Group of Companies that has investments in various sectors including; real-estate, agri-business, and financial services among others.

He declared interest in the country's presidency in the August 2022 election but was not cleared by IEBC.


Renowned businessman and politician Jimi Wanjigi. [Photo: Courtesy]

James Kanyotu

The late James Kanyotu was an alumni of Alliance High School and Makerere University. He joined the police service in 1960 and started as an inspector of police Grade 1.

He got a promotion five years later making him assistant head of intelligence. He served in the role until 1991. Five years later, he got another promotion making him head of security intelligence which was then known as the special branch and currently the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

He died in 2008 as one of the wealthiest men in Kenya. Following his death, his family was embroiled in a tussle over his estate, since the deceased did not leave behind a will.

His wealth cut across a range of industries including; real estate, hospitality, security, agriculture, banking, and aviation among others.

Harun Mwau

Harun Mwau is a decorated politician, former civil servant, and businessman. Some of the high-profile offices he has held include; Member of Parliament for Kilome and Head of the former Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission among others.

The journey to being the successful businessman he is today started with him being a policeman in his 20s.

While in the police service, he was among the best sharpshooters then and participated in the 1968 and 1972 summer Olympics.

Reports indicate that he amassed his wealth from selling his shares at Nakumatt and serving in various companies that include; Vitu Ltd, Kuston Kenya Ltd, and Harun International Limited among others.


Former politician and businessman Harun Mwau. [Photo: Courtesy]

Jackson Kibor

The late Mzee Jackson Kibor alias Men's conference chairman started out as a policeman before venturing into farming and real estate which made him a billionaire.

Mzee Kibor joined the police service after he dropped out of school due to lack of funds to pay for his fees. Luckily, he was selected to join the police service and was able to learn several skills including playing darts.

He represented the country at an East African darts competition where he emerged the winner and was awarded Sh35,000 and a new car valued at Sh17,600.

Speaking at a past interview with Nation, Kibor said he used his winning together with a Sh55,000 loan to acquire his first parcel of land (over 800 acres) in Kipkabus.

"I borrowed Sh55,000 from the Land Bank and added to the Sh35,000 (I had) and bought my first land measuring 840 acres in Kipkabus, where I grew maize and did a lot of dairy farming,” he was quoted by Nation.

His first investments gave him returns that he later used to purchase over 3,000 acres of land in different parts within Uasin Gishu County and its neighboring towns.

He also acquired over 500 cows and made other investments in real estate. In 1974, he joined politics and was elected Councilor for Kipkabus. He served for one term and later moved to Soy ward where he served for three terms.

By the time of his death in March 2022, Mzee Kibor had amassed wealth amounting to billions of Shillings. He was among the richest people in Rift Valley and the country at large.