Kiprono Kittony is now the president of the Nairobi Security Exchange. Before that, he brought back to life one of the most crucial Kenyan institutions: the chamber of commerce and industry. For seven years, he put his knowledge and experiences gathered during his student life or as a businessman to serve what he considered now as his most significant accomplishment.
When in 2012, Kiprono Kittony is named Chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI), the institution is in bad shape. But the businessman has no intention to let die an organization that can help Kenya play in the big league. “It has been my biggest challenge. To bring back to life this historical institution, the history of which goes back in 1599 in France and 1965 for Kenya,” Kiprono Kittony explains today.
An interest in traveling and law
Son of a businessman who sells tea and a politician, Zipporah Kittony, famous in the country mainly for her commitment to women empowerment, he grew up in Kericho, west of Kenya. He then comes to Nairobi, where he studied commerce and law. “I always loved the law. I wanted to become a lawyer! Today I’m happy to have both degrees. It gives me a real advantage in my daily work.” And for seven years leading the KNCCI, Kiprono Kittony will show his skills defending Kenyan companies in the institution. He gave it real governance, activity, change old habits, and put the institution into the 21st century. To achieve his plan, he’s helped by the international network CCIs provide. “I could not say in how many countries I’ve been to with president Kenyatta to sell Kenya, its assets, sign agreements…” But he loves it, and if he doesn’t know in how many countries he went to with the Kenyan president, he knows the actual total: “55 countries on all the continent”. An interest in traveling abroad developed during his student years. As an official in the international business student association, he took advantage of this time to travel here and there, notably in Norway and Finland.
A new challenge
After his studies, he worked for some years in London before returning to Kenya and launching his own business. “I was working in horticulture and logistic. I was sending green beans to a famous market in France, Rungis, for example, and in numerous other European countries,” remembers with a smile the businessman. Again, this experience is precious when he talks with a business owner or imagine an international development. And the result is final: “Today, our chamber of commerce is probably the most dynamic one in all East Africa.” The contract has been fulfilled. In 2019, he left the KNCCI and, behind him, “a strong legacy,” as he likes to say. But while in his Chairman’s capacity, he has been able to sit on numerous councils, including the Nairobi Stock Exchange, since 2018, and in July 2020, he is elected Chairman. “It was a surprise for me because numerous people were there for longer than me. But I like it, and I feel that I can do something in this organization.” Again, there is no lack of work since the Covid-19 economic crisis has done its damages. And everybody hopes undoubtedly that this mandate will be as successful as the previous one. But “I don’t have an executive role,” he underlines. “I’m giving a vision, an aim, a guide to be more innovative in this sector.”
Still serving the Kenyan economy
And the aim is simple: transform the Nairobi Stock Exchange into the first stock exchange in Africa. To achieve that, he will have to give Kenyans the envy to invest in stocks. “Today, 70% of our shares are held by foreign funds. If we could just go to 50-50, it will be the first win. Kenyans like to invest in fields, in houses, things they can touch and see, so we need to teach them how it works.” Other goals, increase the number of companies listed, mainly with public or familial companies, rise participation… “Finally, the NSE must be a new way to raise funds for Kenyan companies. This is the goal !” A new challenge, but far to impress the one that starts to get familiar with moving mountains to bring the Kenyan economy forward.
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