How Naivas grew from a village shop to a supermarket chain


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Naivas Supermarkets, whose chairman, Mr Simon Gashwe Mukuha, died on Monday, started as a shop in a tiny village at Rongai trading centre on the fringes of Nakuru town.

The giant supermarket chain started off as Rongai Self Service Stores –a family shop – before its transformation into a retail giant.

Naivas founder, Peter Mukuha Kago, died in 2010 and left his children, among them Mr David Mukuha (director) and Simon Gashwe Mukuha (who died on Monday) as the heirs of the business.

Other siblings who own shares in Naivas include sisters Grace Wambui Mukuha and Linet Wairimu.

The late Gashwe was the administrator of their late fathers’ estate.

It is hard to believe that at least three decades ago, Naivas started as a small family shop in Rongai, operated by the Mukuhas, before emerging as a major player in the fiercely competitive retail business in Kenya.

In a past interview with the Nation, Mr Gashwe’s brother, David Mukuha, revealed the humble beginnings of Naivas Supermarkets shop in the 1990s.

“It first started as a small family business serving the village of Rongai in the outskirts of Nakuru town in 1992. I started it after convincing my brother, Simon Gashwe, that this type of business held the future for us and our family. We raised Sh200,000, which we used as capital for our retail store,” said Mr Mukuha.

From what appeared to be a small family retail shop, the Rongai Self Service Stores, as it was known then, and serving mainly residents of Rongai, grew into a major wholesale and distribution business and was registered as a company in 1993.

Two years later, the family business grew and spread with a new branch in Elburgon near Molo.

According to a family source, the Mukuhas ploughed back the profits from the business and opened another branch in Naivasha town, which they called Naivasha Self Service Stores.

In 1996, the family operated three outlets in Rongai, Elburgon, and Naivasha with the one in Naivasha as the head office before later rebranding to the current Naivas in 2007.

The business would later spread its wings to Nairobi in 2001, where it opened its first branch on Ronald Ngala Street, closing down its outlets in Rongai and Elburgon.

Over the years, Naivas Ltd has established itself as a reputable chain of supermarkets in Kenya.

Naivas now has 13 branches in Nairobi, Naivasha, Eldoret, Machakos, Embu, Kitui, Garissa and Narok.

It employs thousands of workers in its outlets across the country.

Nakuru is also home to at least four dominant supermarket brands including Tuskys Supermarket.

Interestingly Mr Joram Kamau, the founder of Tuskys, was a brother of Peter Mukuha Kago and the two helped each other nurture the family businesses to the giant supermarket chains they are today.

Others that also started off in Nakuru include Nakumatt, founded in Nakuru by Has Hashmuk Shah, the Haraka Kanini Enterprise, which deals in retail and wholesale, which also started off as a shop in Nakuru town after shifting from Kinangop.

Gilani’s Supermarket, Stagemart Supermarket and Rivanas Supermarkets are others which started off in Nakuru Town.

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