Top 25 CEOs setting the business agenda in 2021

Phyllis is an alumnus of the Swedish Institute Management Program on Sustainable Business Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility and was part of the inaugural program for Africa in 2014.

Phyllis Wakiaga


According to Phyllis Wakiaga, 2020 has been a tough year for all, the Covid-19 pandemic having thrown an unwonted curveball on the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) plans. Nevertheless, under her executive leadership, KAM made efforts to Keep Kenya moving, to cushion the country from the impact of the pandemic.

Most manufacturers stepped up production and others started manufacturing of essential PPEs items, such as hand sanitizers and masks. Yet others donated hygiene items, including soap and water tanks to the frontline workers and the most vulnerable and poor communities.

Notable are the manufacturers who repurposed their production lines, to produce personal protective equipment (PPEs) to be used by frontline medical personnel in the fight against the pandemic. This kind of manufacturers’ initiatives not only showcased the innovations that local industry can offer to the local and export markets, but also why a resilient sector matters for the economy. Phyllis promoted and facilitated the growth of local PPE manufacturing and buy Kenya build Kenya (BKBK) agenda 2030.

Through the Private Sector Covid-19 Fund, where Phyllis Wakiaga was appointed by the President as one of the members, local industry continued to support vulnerable citizens, through provision of water, food and other basic and hygiene needs. Phyllis chaired the procurement and logistics committee and help set up transparent process to ensure value for money for the funds raised by this private initiative.

Under Phyllis as CEO, KAM also achieved some big policy wins, through engagements with the government on the development of measures to cushion businesses, and the country from the impact of the Covid-19 virus. Some of key policy wins include:

  • Reduction of VAT from 16 % to 14%, Income Tax Rate (Pay-As-You-Earn) from 30 % to 25% and Resident Income Tax (Corporation Tax) from 30% to 25%.
  • Expedition of payment of pending bills and verified VAT refunds.
  • Lowering of the Central Bank Rate (CBR) to 7.25% from 8.25% effectively prompting banks to lower interest rates.
  • Approval of applications for duty-free importation of Industrial Spare Parts (ISP).
  • Approval of list of manufacturers for reduced Import Declaration Fee (IDF) and Railway Development Levy (RDL) rates at 1.5%.
  • Implementation of the Green Channel treatment. Green channel provides an efficient and expedited cargo clearance process for no/low risk imported consignments imported by compliant manufacturers.
  • In addition, KAM continued to drive the sustainability agenda, through the following initiatives:
  • Women in Manufacturing Report: KAM launched the first-ever Women in Manufacturing Report. The outcomes of the research shall pivot KAM’s advocacy drive of the Women in Manufacturing Program in Kenya, by providing concrete data on the necessary areas to improve. It shall inform stakeholders in mainstreaming gender equality and inclusion in the manufacturing sector.
  • Kenya Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) Business Plan: The PRO will drive collective Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the country, whereby a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle, whilst turning plastic waste into valuable resources. The Strategic Plan sets out the direction of KAM’s priorities in the waste value chain and key action in effecting the steps towards a clean Kenya as industry moves from a linear to a circular economy.
  • Centre for Green Growth and Climate Change: Through this Centre, the Association seeks to provide a one-stop solution to deepen industry level interventions, promote a circular economy, promote climate change actions, and financial linkages that prioritise people and planet.
  • Youth Employment Project: KAM in partnership with German Development Corporation launched the ‘Promoting Youth Employment through Entrepreneurship and Skills Development Project’. It seeks to create job and entrepreneurship opportunities, by linking Competence Based Education and Training (CBET) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) graduates with opportunities in local industries.

Now a PhD student in Leadership and Governance, having completed the course working and now embarking on writing her thesis, Phyllis is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and holds a Masters in International Trade and Investment Law from the University of Nairobi, Masters in Business Administration from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Nairobi, Diploma in Law from Kenya School of Law, and a Higher Diploma in Human Resource Management from the Institute of Human Resources Management Kenya.

In 2013, she joined the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), as the Head of Policy, Research and Advocacy, becoming Chief Executive Officer in 2015, taking over from the legendary Betty Maina, who joined the public service as the Principal Secretary for Trade and Industry.

Phyllis is an alumnus of the Swedish Institute Management Program on Sustainable Business Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility and was part of the inaugural program for Africa in 2014.

She has been trained in the Role of the Private Sector in Government Policy by Strathmore Business School and John Hopkins University; Investment Treaty Law and Arbitration—Africa International Legal Awareness (AILA) UK London and High-Performance Boardrooms- Institute of Directors.

She represents KAM on various state-owned enterprises (SOE) boards and was recently re-elected for a second term to the board of KENGEN. Phyllis chairs the Kenya Water Industrial Alliance and the United Nations Global Compact Network Kenya, the largest in Africa and will continue driving the corporate sustainability agenda in 2021.

Born in 1982, Phyllis was recognized as one of the 2019 Most Influential People of African Descent, Global 100 Under 40. She was recognized in 2020 in the inaugural Top 25 CEOs setting the business agenda by BUSINESS MONTHLY magazine in its 25th Anniversary Celebration Awards issue.


  • Business Sustainability
  • Policy Formulation and Diplomacy
  • Local Content and Manufacturing
  • Ethical Leadership
  • Corporate Governance
  • International Trade Law
  • Research and Advocacy


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Kenya’s Dr Hanningtone Gaya, holds a PhD in Commerce in Business Management from Nelson Mandela University (NMU), is viewed as an authority in country branding and is the founder chairman of the Brand Kenya Board.

Related Posts