Meet the East African winners of AABLA 2015

One of Africa’s most prestigious business awards, the All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA), held annually in partnership with CNBC, took place last week in Nairobi Kenya. This time not for business leaders in Africa but for business leaders in East Africa who have made an impact in the region. The East African winners will go on to contend with other regional winners from West and Southern Africa to determine Africa’s most respected business game-changer at the AABLA Finale, to take place in November. Surprisingly the winners for East Africa were from Kenya and Tanzania.

Young Business Leader of the Year

Edha Nahdi

Edha Nahdi, CEO of Amsons Group

He started his business career in early 2006 when he was just 19 as an importer of bulk oil and petroleum products under the Camel Oil Tanzania retail brand, the business diversified into cement, inland container depots, real estate and bulk grain storage. Nahdi was up against Eric Kinoti of Shade Systems, Danson Muchemi of Web Tribe Ltd. and Barclay Paul Okari of Impact Africa Group.

Entrepreneur of the Year 

Julian Kyula

Julian Kyula, CEO and Founder of Mode

Julian bagged this award for his work in the mobile technology space. Julian is a serial entrepreneur, his focus is on strategy and business development. He has experience in the Credit Sector having worked at the Credit Reference Bureau Africa (CRB) in Nairobi. Julian founded Quest Holdings, after working as an Operations Analyst and Collections Manager for Nationwide Credit Inc in Houston Texas. He has also worked with Allegis Group in Houston Texas, doing credit scoring for Citibank and Amex.

His contending fellow finalists were Heril Bangera of Flame Tree Group and Bimal Kantaria of Elgon Kenya Limited.

Business Leader of the Year 

James Mworia

James Mworia, CEO of Centum Investment Company Limited

James now  37, joined Nairobi-based investment company Centum in 2001 as a 23-year-old intern, his ambition was to “become CEO someday.” His job then was to file documents, but seven years later, he was indeed appointed CEO, becoming one of the youngest senior executives in a Kenyan listed firm. He has over ten years work experience including Investment Management at Trans-century and Centum. He is a  CFA Charter holder, Certified Public Accountant, holds a Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Nairobi and an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya. He represents Centum as a non executive director on the Boards of Nairobi Bottlers Limited, Mount Kenya Bottlers Limited, General Motors East Africa Limited and NAS Airport Services Limited and SIA (K) Holdings Limited.

He contended for this position with Mohammed Dewji, Group CEO of MeTL Group and Dr. Benson Wairegi, Group Managing Director of Britam.

Business Woman of the Year


Gina Din-Kariuki, Chairperson of Gina Din Group

Gina Din was awarded for her achievements in the public relations sector. She is a board member of Ecobank Kenya Ltd and member of the East African Council on Superbrands. She has spearheaded GDCC to a level that has seen the company consecutively win the prestigious public relations consulting firm ward for a number of years. She is also a director at Erin Energy Kenya, which has four oil blocks in Kenya and is listed on New York Stock Exchange with headquarters in Houston, Texas. Her company handled the crisis communication management of the Kenya Airways Doula crash.

Her fellow contenders were Dr. Jennifer Riria of Kenya Women and Iza Irame of African Alliance.

“My award is dedicated to the faceless and nameless women across the continents who work extremely hard with no recognition,” Gina Din said while accepting the award.

Philanthropist of the Year


Mohammed Dewji, Group CEO of MeTL Group

The Tanzanian businessman, became the first in AABL history to receive this newly added award which was introduced this year. The category was introduced to recognise those who seek to promote the welfare of others and to encourage more benevolence on the continent.

Dewji was nominated alongside Damaris Too-Kimondo of Shrand Promotions and Ashok Shah of Apollo Group.

Industrialist of the Year 

Benson Wairegi

Dr. Benson Wairegi Group Manging Director and CEO of  BRITAM

Dr. Benson of British-American Investments Company (Britam) became the first in AABLA history to bag this award, which was introduced this year. The category winner was selected by the judges as a key contributor to driving economic growth was introduce to promote beneficiation and manufacturing on the continent.

Dr Benson is an accountant, banker, businessman and entrepreneur in Kenya. He is currently the Chancellor of Kenyatta University. Dr. Wairegi is the Vice Chairman of Equity Bank Limited and a Director of Housing Finance Company of Kenya Limited. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree and Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Nairobi and is a Certified Public Accountant – CPA (K).

Lifetime Achievement Award 


Jennifer Riria, Group CEO of Kenya Women

Jenifer became the first in AABL history to receive this extraordinary AABLA title for her lifelong commitment to supporting women enterprises in East Africa.

She is distinguished as a microfinance banker and practitioner, researcher and gender specialist. She has served in many leadership roles for which she has been recognized locally and internationally. In 2013 she was awarded the Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur of the year, East Africa 2013, and subsequently, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2014, at which point she was admitted to EY’s Global Hall of Fame.

The AABLA for  Southern Africa will take place on September 30 in Johannesburg while the final regional round will hold in West Africa on October 22 in Lagos.

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