Njeri Rionge, the co-founder of Wananchi On-line, a as soon as fashionable Web Service Supplier (ISP)which grew to change into East Africa’s main pay-TV, broadband Web, and VoIP providers agency has handed on.
TechMoran is but to determine the small print of her demise however the as soon as profitable and revered serial entrepreneur reportedly fell sufferer of suspicious spiritual teachings that emphasised intensive spiritual fastings, prayer and repentance above her well being and work.
Good bye Njeri. We’ll miss you tremendously. pic.twitter.com/K6qcTvsqNq
— Joe Mucheru EGH (@mucheru) October 2, 2023
In 1999, Rionge, along with former ICT Cupboard Secretary Joseph Mucheru co-founded multi-million greenback agency Wananchi On-line which grew to change into in the present day’s Wananchi Group, Zuku’s father or mother agency. Rionge and her staff noticed the corporate from thought to conceptualization, to their remaining exit. Rionge and her staff noticed Wananchi On-line elevate a number of rounds of each fairness and debt financing from Personal Fairness companies corresponding to Liberty World, Rising Capital Companions, Export Improvement Canada, Altice, and Prudence Holdings, amongst others to type what’s now know as Wananchi Group with operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, and Mauritius amongst others.
Rionge, ventured out into enterprise early at simply 20. She was promoting yogurt to the Worldwide Faculty Of Kenya and Loretto Convent Musongari Excessive Faculty college students from her automobile trunk throughout their breaks and likewise moonlighted as a hairdresser. She may later begin going to London to herald re-sale luxurious merchandise for her rising clientele. Rionge would later be part of Inter-Join, an area ISP and after three years and dealing faithfully and rising up the ranks to change into its advertising supervisor determined it was time to enterprise out. In February 1999, Rionge, then the advertising supervisor and Mucheru, the ISP’s technical supervisor stepped out in religion to serve Wanainchi, Swahili for frequent man or frequent of us who weren’t being reached as web and computer systems had been the protect of a privileged few.
In February 1999, Rionge and Mucheru determined that it was time to meet their ambitions. Not like Inter-Join, their employer, Rionge and Mucheru’s dream was to make web reasonably priced and accessible to each Kenyan whether or not in an city or rural space. In December that 12 months they integrated Wananchi On-line Restricted (WOL) and in March 2002 the corporate started operations with a radical worth struggle of as much as 85 – 90% reductions. By December 2005, WOL was a darling of each company, SME and people prospects making it the main ISP providers supplier within the Kenya.
WOL was run just by Rionge, its founder and CEO and Joseph Mucheru, its CTO and later Director of Technique and Enterprise Improvement and a board of six. James Mungai Gachui of Jimana Ltd was the Chairman and the bulk shareholder of the corporate with 51% possession whereas Rionge and Mucheru had 20% every. One other board member, Joseph Kamau had the remaining 9% possession.
Although the web turned accessible in Kenya in 1993, it was costly, gradual and unavailable to most Kenyans. Wananchi On-line got here on the scene to offer prime quality, excessive pace web providers at reasonably priced costs. WOL additionally supplied area registration, e-commerce, e mail, hosting and collocation answer for people, companies, builders and resellers beneath three product classes particularly X-Plore, NetLife and Tunda. X-Plore was tailor-made for company enterprise entities together with business and non-commercial establishments. NetLife focused people, small and medium companies, and small Workplace House Places of work whereas Tunda was focused on the frequent man, house customers and college students.
Beneath Rionge, Wananchi On-line would accomplice with a cable tv service to type Wananchi Group Holdings which launched triple-play service and model Zuku in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia. In October 2014, Helios introduced $40 million funding into Wananchi Group Holdings with participation from present shareholders, Altice S.A. and Liberty World Inc and present monetary traders, ATMT and Rising Capital Companions.
With Wananchi On-line diluted and 75% of Wananchi Group Holdings bought to overseas companies, Ms. Rionge put all her energies behind Ignite Consulting, working with startups and entrepreneurs from the world over from her workplace in Nairobi and Toronto. The entrepreneur was additionally a director and board secretary of the Corktown Residents and Enterprise Affiliation, a Northern Secondary Faculty Council member and Co-Secretary. She was additionally Co-Chair for Elevate Tech 2018 Toronto, and is well-known occasions speaker globally, together with attending the 2015 Oscars for Cadillac.
In Kenya, she has held board positions at Unilever Tea (Brooke Bond Kenya), the Institute of Administrators (Kenya), the Web Company of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the East African Tea Commerce Affiliation (EATTA), and Ambulance Air Rescue (AAR) Holdings, as on the Wananchi Group. She was additionally an advisory committee member of Sport on the Service of Humanity on the Vatican. Earlier than her demise, Ms. Rionge was one of many few feminine pioneers within the expertise sector in Africa and he or she was elevating capital for an African private-equity primarily based within the Cayman Islands. These plans had been doubtless thwarted when Rionge went neck deep into new discovered zeal into the alleged cult. Rionge has at all times been a staunch born-again christian all through her entrepreneurial life however the alleged cult made her too zealous and directionless.
Wananchi Group is now owned by Triple Maintain Co Restricted, Liberty World Europe 2 Restricted (Liberty), and Altice Africa S.A.R.L (Altice).