Kenya’s Female Beer Pioneer Tabitha Karanja: Brewing Success and Transforming Lives

Tabitha Mukami Karanja, a Kenyan businesswoman, entrepreneur, and industrialist, has left an indelible mark on Kenya’s business landscape. Her journey began with a vision and a determination to create something extraordinary. Born near Kijabe in central Kenya, Tabitha initially worked as an Accounting Clerk in the Ministry of Tourism. Fate intervened when she met and married her husband, who owned a successful hardware store in Naivasha town. In 1997, they decided to close the hardware store and venture into the wine-making business.

In 1997, Tabitha and her husband embarked on the wine-making journey, targeting the lower end of the market. However, heavy taxes on locally made wines in 2007 forced her to pivot. Undeterred, she transitioned to manufacturing ready-to-drink gin and vodka. Her state-of-the-art factory still produces these spirits today. But Tabitha’s true breakthrough came when she added beer to her repertoire. In 2008, Summit beer was born, and Keroche Breweries emerged as the first large brewery in Kenya owned by a non-multinational company. The factory underwent a massive expansion, increasing beer production from 60,000 bottles per day to an impressive 600,000 bottles per day.

Tabitha Karanja’s relentless pursuit of excellence has not gone unnoticed. She has garnered several prestigious awards: 2015 Transformational Business Award: The Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship recognized her as a transformational business leader; 2014 Forbes/CNBC Africa Business Woman of the Year: Her impact reverberated beyond Kenya’s borders; 2016 Global Inspirational Women Leadership Award: Tabitha’s leadership and resilience earned her this international accolade.

Other notables include African Leadership Network Transformational Business Award: Marrakech, Morocco celebrated her socio-economic impact in Africa; BBC Feature: Her success story was highlighted by BBC, showcasing her 20% share of Kenya’s overall drinks market and 5% of beer sales.

In the 2022 Kenyan General Election, Tabitha ran for the Nakuru County Senatorial seat and emerged victorious. Her UDA Party ticket secured an impressive 442,864 votes, defeating her main competitor from the Jubilee Party