Indians (In Kenya) and Business (Long-Dick Alert)

A quick stroll in the leafy suburbs (Those with houses valued at $500,000 plus), you will realize that most residents are Asians (Indians). There are many Africans, but the Asian population seems to be over-represented in this areas. According to the 2009 census, there were under 50,000 Kenyan Indians in Kenya. That is about 0.125% of the total population. When you go to posh gated estates in Westlands, Spring Valley, Redhill and Parklands for instance, some of them are occupied wholly by Indians. I dont think Indians are special, but I believe that there is a thing or two other Kenyans can borrow from them businesswise. This is so because most non-Indians in posh neighborhoods enjoy the proceeds of illegally acquired wealth mostly corruption and looting from G.O.K coffers. What do Indians do differently from native Africans to succeed in business?
I asked a new friend Dinesh* and this is what he had to say:

  • Indians avoid low margin businesses. Low margin businesses are often flooded e.g the matatu business. Investing Ksh 2,500,000 to get 5k daily GROSS profit is a low margin venture. I remember that I once asked my uncle about investing in the matatu business, and he told me “usijaribu biashara mhindi hafanyi”. Dinesh* stated that it only makes sense to invest in many buses for long distance route because managing one bus/matatu does not make business sense.
  • Indians don’t invest in idle land. When a 25 year old Indian and a native Kenyan have Ksh 1,000,000 in capital, one will invest in land, and the other will start a business e.g wholesale, hardware etc. Dinesh believes that most native Kenyans are obsessed with land without considering the actual return on investment. If an Indian buys land, he intends to use it soon e.g build a factory, warehouse, property, farming etc. You will hardly find an Indian with idle plots that don’t generate cashflow.
  • They learn business at a young age from their family members. Also, they inherit the businesses from their relatives.
  • They are big in manufacturing. The same way they populate the leafy suburbs, they also dominate Industrial Area and the Export processing zones i.e most factories there, and in Thika are owned by Indians.
    Dinesh* owns a residence in Red Hill, a Jeep Cherokee and a toyota landcruiser 2011 model. He runs a printing press in industrial area. So I believe that he has the necessary background to offer this advice. I thought I should share. If a wealth audit was conducted in Kenya, I would not be surprised if more than 30% of those worth 100 Million USD (10 billion ksh) are Indians, despite constituting just 0.125% of the total population. We can learn a thing or two from them regarding entrepreneurship.

Na wewe hapa specialty yako ni kuma na n.z.e? Gerrarahia stupid african boy.

You need a head transplant ASAP.

Ask Rajesh, Dinesh,whoever. Its all about having the kids learn the family business from a young age. Anyway, just going to leave this here for no apparent reason.

What Dinesh conveniently forgot to tell you of how they succeed in business is that they do not pay tax.

Leo umeweka thread ya maana.Amazing.


They also live together. That posh residential address has the extended family members as residents.

Did he also explain to you why close to 300 million Indians live in abject poverty, ama this success only applies to Indians in Kenya?

Hata mimi nimeshangaa. Leo @Quanstrom has put something meaningful.
A couple of other things. No 1 is capital. They pull together capital within several families and avoid traditional banking with its hurdles in starting a business. 2nd is they also pull together resources on how to run a business. So if one starts a business, there are several people advising him daily on which direction to take.

Ukienda pokot huko ndani ndani.
You will find an Indian guy akona hardware yake.
Kuna msee local ashawai think of
Investing huko?


  1. Most Indians/asians are frontmen for nywele ngumu africans esp from the nyayo error…think Bidco, Easy Coach, several EPZA companies etc etc.

  2. Most asian businessess bribe rogue K.R.A officials to reduce their tax obligations.

  3. Most asians have struck fear in their african employees i.e. poor working conditions for even lesser pay. For an african employer his/her employees wangeangusha hio fiashara yake zamaaaani at the slightest whiff of ‘kuteswa’

  4. Asians have a sense of community which they then use to pool resources/capital for business.

  5. Asian business people dodge taxes e.g. pay themselves a basic salary kedo 13k but draw directors emoluments (meal vouchers/fuel/credo/school fees etc) of about 100k per month…lakini wewe nywele ngumu unajilipa 150k salary as the C.E.O hahaha

very inspiring story,tried mat biz and it nearly brought my business to the ground:(

Kindly share your story.

The Indian succeed because they work together as a team pooling their knowledge and capital. Africans cannot achieve this level of consolidated team effort because they think they are going to benefit the “other” and forget they are part of the partnership which will eventually benefit them and their children; you find 2 brothers and 3 Sister 10 Cousins all hawking instead of having i.e hardware stores.

Africans also deliberately refuse to add value, demand that government setup industries so the Indians take the numerous opportunities.
African who can setup mega businesses usually are poor and have no collateral.

African’s perception of their fellow countrymen is ill informed, they say they cannot make ‘xzy’ claiming that watu hawawezi nunua hiyo yet the Indians are importing the same items and selling for huge margins.

The Africans who have huge resources partner with Indians rather than their fellow countrymen because they despise them and want to keep the money hidden. Others with capital have acquired their money through corrupt means and do not invest, their investment is in continuation of corrupt deals.

African don’t know how to access or there is not supporting network to support access to local market and distribution. Which the Indian create via financial strength.

The 2009 census revised those numbers to around 500-600,000.
If you remember Naendra Modi’s visit.Nairobi’s Indians alone filled an entire Kasarani,not counting the hordes that were in Parklands,Westlands that day.And that was Nairobi alone.
Heck I think Kisumu alone has nearly 50k,leave alone the entire country.

You do realise that those are untouchables right???
The British mostly imported the Vaishya caste to East Africa.A minority of Brhamins (the Oshwals)also moved here.
The Vaishya caste practised Agriculture,keeping livestock and trade.
That is why our Indians are into Businesses.
South African Indians are mostly untouchables (though they are now business owners there as they were freed from Indian castehood).
In India,you will notice that most businesses are owned by Gujeratis and Punjabis (the exact same groups that came to East Africa.We do not have the dark Tamils in Kenya for example.Apart from those two states we only got a few from Goa and Kashmir)while lower castes are civil servants or are in tech.

I realise that they’re Indians.

Exactly. So the Indians that came here were already doing relatively well. They were in a position to take advantage of all the opportunities that were available in colonial Kenya. They got an even bigger boost when mzungu left the country after Kenya’s independence. When a people form a minority in a foreign country, they tend to support one another more. The same could be said of Somalis who set up base in Eastleigh after escaping the civil war there. If Kenya went down the shitter, and Kenyan community set up base in, say Rwanda, after a decade or two everyone in Rwanda would be like “why are Kenyans so successful in business?”, forgetting that millions of Kenyans in Kenya are poor and/or starving.
So if you asked me why Kenyan Indians have been so successful, I’d give you 3 reasons:

  1. They’re a minority, so support one another. Within their small community, there’s “more than enough for everyone”, so they can afford to share information about new opportunities.
  2. Like I said up there, most were already doing well when they arrived here, so it’s just a matter of building on that, which is not exactly hard.
  3. Cutting corners is part of their culture. They underpay and overwork their workers, they engage in insurance fraud, they evade taxes, they bribe so they can be awarded contracts. That is why Indian “success” is most noticeable in third world countries, where they can get away with such tactics. They were very successful during Moi’s rule because of patronage. You’ll agree with me that their influence got diluted from the time Kibaki became president. More indigenous Kenyans have gotten into sectors of the economy that used to be a preserve of Indians. In developed nations where they follow the law, they’re most active as small businessmen, running convenience stores and such.

Number 3 is false. In the UK alone there are several large Indian owned companies worth billions of pounds.
Starting with Jaguar.
Vijay Patel who was born in Kikuyu owned Amdipharm,which owned Waymade,one of the UK’s largest pharmaceutical companies in the UK.
Once again,your caste determines your station in life.
There are very few Indian business owners in the US outside of the state of New Jersey.(New Jersey has many mid and high caste Indians)
That is because most Indian Americans are from the lower castes and mostly work in Tech.
You will hardly find a Gujerati A Punjabi,A Hindi or a Goan in Silicon Valley because Tech is a low caste thing.Most of them are Tamils.
In Italy,the UK,East Africa and Canada you will find large Indian owned businesses and Empires because most of the Indians who move there are Vaishiyas rather than Untouchables.
Where Untouchables move,you find Indians who work as office workers manual labourers ,civil servants etc.You may find a few Indian owned businesses ,usually run by a Vaishiya
How many Indian owned businesses exist in Malaysia where they form 7% of the population???
Not many actually,most take up white and collar jobs.The same to Singapore where most Indians,like in Malaysia are the dark untouchables of South India.Singapore is 9% Indian. The Chinese control 70% of Malaysia’s economy and virtually all of Singapore where they are a majority.Thus the ‘minorities help each other’ certaintly does not apply to Indians in South East Asia
If it had been the Vaishiyas from Northern India who had settled there we would be talking of a very different story.The Chinese would have faced intense competition in Malaysia and the Indians in Singapore would be well known.
I do agree that most (but not all)Indians do have issues when it comes to renumeration. That is because we refuse to follow up on industrial laws.

Sijui ni uchawi ama ni nini, …County govts are awarding them lucrative tenders of which in return they give county staff kick-backs of NOT more than 10%. Wewe mwenye county unakaushwa, na ukibahatika kupewa hata ile tender shida shida, Walafi county staff will be up on ur neck demanding kick-backs upfront of upto 40%!!!
I told them if we were to turn the tables around as in an Indian is the one awarding tenders, Oooiiih! ng’oooo hauwezi pewa!
…ndo sababu naona watu wengine wamerogwa na Baniani!

@kyuktothecore has a point. It is true Indians do business by minimizing costs (including paying peanuts to employees) and supporting fellow Indians. However it’s worth noting, you cannot travel from India to Kenya without a promising landing, so they come after getting connected to their kinsmen so that even if they were to do business they know where and how to source for the goods. Take for example, many Kenyan/African politicians and businessmen have invested in Australia and other places. Would that be reason enough to say Kenyans are rich or charismatic in business?