GROUP CEO – TRANSCENTURY PLC
Since joining TransCentury (TC) PLC in 2008, Njiinu has held various roles in corporate finance, portfolio management, business development as well as originating and developing opportunities in the infrastructure space.
Prior to the posting at TC, Njiinu worked for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the USA for 7 years, where he was involved in strategy, financial planning and analysis as well as evaluation and integration of acquisitions.
Njiinu has an MBA in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas and a Bachelor of Science in International Business from United States International University-Africa. He is a CFA charter holder.
Njiinu took the helm of TC in 2016 tasked with giving guidance and providing transformational leadership and change management that would turn around the fortunes of the investment group back to profitability and growth.
TC is an indigenous investment group with a focus on investing in infrastructure projects, products, and services. TC prides itself as one of the pioneer investments companies in the region that took the challenge of solving the capital availability challenge by pooling together local capital to address local challenges.
Since its formation, TC has managed to phenomenally grow value while addressing pertinent infrastructural deficiencies in the country and region. Twenty-four (24) years on, TC has investments across East, Central and Southern Africa which include East African Cables, a leading manufacturer of electrical cables, Tanelec, a leading manufacturer and distributor of transformers and switchgears based in Arusha, Tanzania, Avery East Africa, which provides solutions that enhance infrastructure efficiency and sustainability across the region, among others.
When Njiinu joined TC, the company was transitioning into a distinct corporate entity, after a phase of rapid growth and acquisitions. Njiinu subsequently held various roles in corporate finance, portfolio management, business development as well as originating and developing opportunities.
On ascending to the helm in 2016, he took up the delicate role of stabilising the business and turning around TC, a growth phase characteristic of every sustainable business. In the 4 years, he has led the team through a robust turnaround plan that identified 4 key areas of focus. First is reprofiling obligations to provide runway for capital reallocation to production. Second, intense focusing on delivering robust commercial opportunities to boost earnings and support fundraising. Third, fundraising for growth and enhanced execution capability to increase efficiency and Fourth, boosting income generation.
Njiinu’s turn-around plan has led to reduction of debt by USD55m and a restructuring of USD 52m of debt. In addition, TC has gone through a groupwide organisational redesign that included strengthening of the corporate governance structures and streamlining the business systems and controls in line with the TC group strategic direction.
The business has also taken a deliberate focus on stakeholder management that includes, financial partners, employees, investee companies among others, resulting in increased alignment within and without the business and in accordance with the best global benchmarks that Njiinu has managed to infuse into TC since taking over as the CEO.
In 2017, Njiinu led the team in unveiling TC’s four-year strategic plan, ‘Ahidi,’ a Swahili word meaning ‘promise’. This strategic plan has provided a clear direction for TC in the last couple of years and is currently under review for a revamp and to take into consideration the current environment impacted by the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The objective is the consolidation of the gains so far registered and charting a path forward in the future to cope with the new normal business environment.
On Pan-Africanism, Njiinu believes African businesses must take the lead in solving African challenges. In his opinion, ‘Africa has the necessary expertise with a well-educated population and with globally earned experience and exposure. Africa must build the right infrastructure and must promote manufacturing which both allow us to drive our own agenda as Africans in terms of long term, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.’ Njiinu postulates.
‘By manufacturing what we need and export to other markets we not only create and sustain quality jobs but provide a sustainable ecosystem that ensures real social economic development and impact. The ecosystem will generate and support local input suppliers, financiers, channel partners including wholesalers, retailers, after sales services while exports of the products will further boost economic growth and earn the much-needed foreign exchange to stabilise our currency,’ Njiinu adds.
The development of infrastructure on the other hand ensures access of goods and labour and improves efficiency, reducing cost of products to the population and this has a direct impact on the quality of life as well as lowering the cost of inputs for our exports, hence making our pricing competitive.
According to Njiinu, one of the biggest challenges that Africa faces is adequate and quality infrastructure development in critical areas and more so, acquiring the right and sustainable funding for the development, that is long term and affordable. Njiinu believes permanent capital especially from local institutional investors is the best long term and sustainable solution.
In his methodological and well-reasoned mind, Njiinu posits that proving a long-term local capital source that understands local business operating environment and can support businesses through challenging times while giving comfort to non-local capital. ‘Local institutional investors can originate, develop and substantially de-risk opportunities to get global attention that then, can also provide an exit route for foreign investors seeking to exit the local scene,’ Njiinu explains.
As an example, Njiinu explains that TC is structured in such a manner as a permanent capital investment company with a management team that has deep operational and investment experience in infrastructure development that not only provide funding but also give strategic support to investee companies. In his opinion, working together creates the required partnership and synergy between providers of capital and operators that gives the businesses the opportunity to quickly scale up, diversify and innovate, making them the iconic brands that they are today. In this way, TC offers this solution by pooling together longer-term funding that is patient enough to see investments come to fruition.
Another area of passion for Njiinu is manufacturing. TC has been in the forefront in not only investing in manufacturing plants but scaling up the businesses to the space most of them occupy to date. ‘This is no coincidence, but the deliberate and strategic leadership offered to the investee companies by TC management that has allowed the business to scale up, diversify and innovate,’ adds Njiinu, beaming with a wide smile.
TC not only offers capital but strategic leadership that includes a team with deep understanding of the business operations and governance. TC has built a track record characterised by resilience and the ability to turnaround businesses even under challenging and volatile environment and this is an offering that is a big plus for companies that join the TC platform.
Among the achievements of TC Njiinu is most proud of is the unmatched platform that TC has created with strong brands and track record of delivering iconic infrastructure projects in the region that include construction of power plants especially in the geothermal space, building of well pads and associated infrastructures for leading oil and gas energy and petroleum companies, and the development of greenfield gold mines in the DRC, among others.
In addition, the transformation of TC into a business structured to withstand and survive turbulent times, the opportunities that TC businesses have created including breaking barriers and investing in frontier markets such as DRC, offering local personnel the opportunity to demonstrate and develop skill in very specialised fields of engineering, value addition through manufacturing and the ability to evolve with the times and provide locally harnessed solutions are key achievements by the Group.
Over the years, the TC team has developed a deep understanding of the local landscape and nuances which plays a key role in managing risks, leading to efficient execution of projects and overall value creation.
The journey of TC has been characterised by many firsts built on a foundation of daring, entrepreneurial spirit, it is this story that TC continue to proactively tell as Group focuses on its vision of Africans impacting African lives through Transformative Infrastructure.
To unwind, Njiinu is an avid follower of motorsport and enjoys farming. Besides his passions, he believes that the current generation must leave behind a legacy of creators and builders of well-grounded and sustainable businesses, and see these businesses through all the necessary phases of a normal good business cycle.