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Incredible story of billionaire Esther Muchemi: “I once came last in exams”

In Summary

  • “To my surprise, in my first term in that new school, that is in form two I was ranked among the last in class.
  • She was the first M-Pesa dealer when the mobile-money platform was introduced in Kenya and holds the till number 0001.

It is a consensus among all successful people that hard work is key to their breakthrough. Award-winning entrepreneur Esther Muchemi, one of the richest women in Africa is no exception.

The billionaire businesswoman candidly reveals how she once came last in her exams, a moment that motivated and taught her the importance of determination and hard work.

In her book Give Me My Mountain: From a Single Shop to an Empire, the pioneer M-Pesa dealer reveals her checkered academic past. She says she struggled scholastically in her primary school. But her proud father – Moses Macharia managed to get her enrolled in Kamahuha Girls Secondary School, Murang’a County.

The move paid off as she started to excel and gain notability as a straight-A student. The stellar performance ground to a halt a year later when she was transferred to Kahuhia Girls High School while in form two.

She ranked last in her first-term exams. The dark moment was a blessing in disguise as it ignited the fire inside her towards academic excellence.

“To my surprise, in my first term in that new school, that is in form two, I was ranked among the last in class. This made me realize that I needed to work very hard to get out of that undesired position. In the second term, I was among the first ten,” she recounts.

“This motivated me to work even harder and in the third term, I was in the top three. By the time I did my form four exams, I was at the top of my class.”

By the time she was in Form Six, she was toping her class and proceeded to rank third nationally in her final exams.

Mindset of a Billionaire

“This reinforced my belief I was meant for greatness and all I needed was to go for it”.

The CEO of Samchi Group of Companies joined the University of Nairobi where she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. She later pursued Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (CPA-K) at the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya. 

She was employed as an auditor at Ernest & Young and PKF for 16 years.

She left her 16-year lucrative career at the firm as an auditor to start a novel phone accessory and Sim card business in the year 2000.

In a similar fashion, she set up the first M-Pesa shop in Kenya which sky-rocketed to what she calls an empire. In 2009, Safaricom honored her as the top M-Pesa agent in the country.

“My business journey has been punctuated with great milestones. I have since founded and run successful businesses in various industries,” she writes in her bio.

The successful entrepreneur now owns After 40 Hotel along Biashara Street, El-Roi Plaza along Tom Mboya Street, the Samchi Group of Companies, and has also invested in hospitality industry.

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