Africa's gender-and-monopoly-busting brewer

Founder of Keroche Breweries

Country: Kenya

Sector: Brewing & Alcoholic Beverages

Tabitha Karanja is founder and CEO of Keroche Breweries. She is one of Kenya's leading entrepreneurs, a remarkable trailblazer and an example of a woman made good against all the odds. Tabitha chose to venture where none before her had dared. She took on an 87-year-old business monopoly and entered an industry with a deeply entrenched male gender stereotype. Tabitha broke the mould to become Kenya’s first home-grown beer and alcoholic drink manufacturer. Today, her company's state-of-the-art production facility is targeting 20% of the Kenyan market.

For her enormous contribution in liberalizing the liqour market in Kenya, Tabitha was honored by President Mwai Kibaki in 2010 with a most significant Kenyan accolade - the Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (M.B.S.) Award.

Tabitha Karanja.jpg

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Tabitha's Startup Story 

For the past 18 years, this determined woman entrepreneur has battled against monopolies, high taxation, industry sceptics and other challenges to create a Kenyan business success story that is internationally admired.

Tabitha is the Chief Executive of Keroche Breweries, the first alcoholic beverage producer to be wholly owned and operated by an indigenous Kenyan – and, a woman. Her inspirational story is one of a woman who started small in business but dreamed big, and because of her determination and perseverance emerged as one of the most successful women entrepreneurs in Kenya and a true force to be reckoned with in the beer brewing industry in Africa. 

Read more about Tabitha's startup story →

Tabitha epitomises the 'against-all-odds' entrepreneur's story. She chose a path that led her to confront a totally male dominated industry in her country. She battled with banks unwilling to part with desperately needed start-up capital; stared down a 87 year-old intrenched multinational monopolist; incurred the wrath of uncooperative government officials who at one point shut-down of her offices! Yet somehow, Tabitha has successfully navigated all these setbacks and today controls at least 20 percent of Kenya’s beer market. This gender busting and pioneering woman is a true inspiration.  --- Melanie Hawken, LoA founder & editor-in-chief

"The support of the Kenyans has kept me going all this time because I think that without their support it would have been very hard for anybody to continue doing the business,"...."If we support one another, we Kenyans, we Africans, we'll be able to do even bigger than what the multinationals can do."

"Women have always believed that it is men who are supposed to do that ... so for me what we can do is challenge the women to think further and to believe that we can do even better than men."

"If we support one another, we Kenyans, we Africans, we'll be able to do even bigger than what the multinationals can do."


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Awards & Accolades

Tabitha's awards and honours include:

  • 2016 - Tabitha receives the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Africa Award in the Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize
  • 2015 - Tabitha receives the 2015 Transformational Business Award from the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurs AAE
  • 2014 - Tabitha is awarded Business Woman of the Year at the East African round of the CNBC Africa All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA)
  • 2010 - Tabitha is honoured by former President Mwai Kibaki with a Moran of Burning Spear (MBS) for contribution to liberalizing the liquor market in Kenya