BOARD CHAIR – TRANSCENTURY PLC
A larger-than-life man who lives up to his name, Shaka Kariuki continues to revolutionise business across the world. His life is filled with stories that leave one in awe. They speak of determination, enterprise, and his passion for people. Whether he is dancing, buying companies or climbing mountains, there is no question about who he is. Shaka Kariuki is an apt businessman who sees life as a series of decisions with the opportunity to leave an impact on all the lives they touch.
Shaka wears many hats. Apart from being the Co-CEO of Kuramo Capital Management, he also serves as Group Chairman of TransCentury PLC, Vice Chairman of GenAfrica, Vice Chairman Platcorp Holdings and Vice Chairman of Sterling Capital Limited all in Kenya. Recently, Shaka was appointed by HE The President of Kenya as the Chairman of the Competition Authority of Kenya. In addition, Shaka sits on the Board of Directors at BYU Marriott School of Management in the United States of America, Leon Business Solution in Zimbabwe, Sepfluor in South Africa, and Maku Holdings LLC, an affiliate of plantations at Huileries du Congo (PHC), the largest Agribusiness company in DRC.
It was through the investment in TransCentury PLC in 2017, that many came to know of him. He is not new to investment however, with 25 years of experience working in global finance and global private equity. While he does invest globally, he has great focus on sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a region he is ecstatic about. He believes that Africa will continue growing and become one of the top regions of the world performing well. This focus also carries forward his belief that investment not only affects business, but allows for the growth and advancement of the people in the region.
Once Shaka completed his high school education at Jamhuri High School, he continued to Brigham Young University for his undergraduate degree, and then to the world renowned Harvard University for his postgraduate.
It was at this point that he took on leadership roles at leading companies in the United States of America (USA), including at the USD 9 billion Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators (DMBA) as a Portfolio Manager of Global Private Equity, Head of Fixed Income and Head of Emerging Markets across asset classes.
Shaka also headed the investment efforts of DMBA Affiliates in Developed and Emerging Markets, i.e. United Kingdom (UK), Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, Samoa, including Africa. Prior to DMBA, he was a Senior Member of the Global Finance team at Agilent Technologies where he managed finance teams in Asia, Europe, Japan and USA. Prior to Agilent, Shaka was an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of First Security Van Kasper and spent some time at Choice Hotels International in the Mergers and Acquisitions department.
Kariuki is not deterred by challenges in businesses. It is his belief that with good management, governance, and a market for the business’ product, you can help a company grow in leaps and bounds. Once he is involved in a business, he is keen on focusing on the areas that need to change and grow. For instance, upon joining the Board of Transcentury PLC and taking up the Chairman position, Shaka was clear on the key levers that needed to be focused on, and at the top was strengthening the Group Governance. This involved the development of a robust Governance structure which included reconstitution of the boards both at the Group and subsidiary levels, ensuring diversity in skill and experience.
Further, reserve matters on key areas were instituted, including amendment in capital structure, capital allocation, and appointment of key management and business strategy. Following this, the Group has embarked on a fundraising strategy, having sufficiently prepared the business to receive funding.
It is such decisions that cater for the complete turnaround and revival of businesses, allowing them to flourish. In line with this, Shaka is delighted at the recently concluded Rights Issue whose objective is to reduce debt and provide TransCentury’s underlying businesses the much-needed working capital.
The investment in TransCentury remains very promising and Shaka is bullish at the prospects that the infrastructure space provides, in addition to the opportunities in SSA whose infrastructure still displays under-penetration and inefficiency, hence a priority for all major governments in the region.
Kariuki believes the solution to such challenges is to have a clear strategy, strong governance, and a longer-term view, and this is the direction he has steered TransCentury in as the Chairman of the Board.
Shaka enjoys mountain climbing, having conquered Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Diablo in California, USA, and has participated in the New York Marathon, among others. When time allows, he enjoys a game of golf and dancing.
In 2022, Shaka’s leadership and contribution to the investment world were recognised by the East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) where he received the East Africa Leadership Award 2022.
The endless opportunities that Africa, and more specifically sub-Saharan Africa, concerning Energy, Transport, Water and Agriculture, which are TransCentury’s focus sectors, coupled with the skill and resilience that the population exhibits, create a great platform for investments. This, together with the macro environment, provides the promise of a bright future. It is this future that Shaka is focused on investing in and ensuring that a great business is created and capitalised on, as problems are solved by those better suited to.
Shaka believes that Africans are the solution as, “We know best where the shoe pinches most, we understand our needs and our environment.” He not only holds the belief, but invested in it along with two of his partners 10 years ago. Kuramo Capital Management prides itself as Africa’s leading independent multi-asset class Investment Manager. The firm raises funds from endowments and foundations in the West, and then invests in lucrative opportunities across SSA. Currently, it boasts over 30 investments across the region with a portfolio worth over USD 500 million. Away from Kenya, Kuramo has investments in Ethiopia, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Ghana and Nigeria.
Shaka’s belief in Africa and its development through ideas for Africans by Africans is what drives his hunger to raise funds and invest capital where it is much needed and most impactful.