Orphaned at 11, this Kenyan tech genius turned down Harvard and became a millionaire at 19

Abu Mubarik January 22, 2021
Mubarak Muyika, tech entrepreneur. Photo Credit: AfricaMe

Mubarak Muyika grew up with his aunt following the demise of his parents when he was only 11 years old. His dad was a civil servant who died when he was two years old while his mom was a high school teacher who passed away when was 11.

In high school, Muyika developed a passion for technology. While a student at Friends School Kamusinga, he won two awards in Kenya’s national science fair, the annual Kenya Students Congress on Science and Technology.

At age 16, Muyika ventured into entrepreneurship, focusing on technology. His first creation was “enhanced petrol tracker,” a tracking database to monitor mismanagement of oil resources by tracking oil tanker movement, oil flow and demand, according to Africa Middle East. His creation was well received and was duly recognized as the best student in the computer exhibit category at the annual Kenya Students Congress on Science and Technology.

He was spotted by one of Kenya’s richest men, Chris Kirubi, and offered a scholarship to study at Harvard, an offer he surprisingly turned town because he wanted to continue with his entrepreneurship drive.

He also built a functional website for a book publishing and distribution company owned by his guardians. He later taught himself PHP, Java and HTML which helped him to design an interactive website for the business.

In 2011, Muyika founded his own company known as Hype Century Technologies & Investments Ltd. The startup offered services such as web designing and web hosting in East Africa with a market focus on Small to Medium size businesses. In the following year, Muyika received the Anzisha Prize for young entrepreneurs for his work in Hype Century.

The success of his startup began attracting the attention of international investors. One of such investors was Jignesh Patel, who invested in his growing business with a 25% stake. In 2013, Muyika sold his 60 percent stake in the company in a deal that made him a millionaire at only 19. By the time he left the company in May, it had 14 employees handling about 1,800 domains.

“By May after our first financial year, we had about 1,800 domains which represented clients in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and some in the RC (Republic of the Congo). That was something that I can say is the biggest achievement, in terms of where the company is today,” Muyika spoke about Hype Century’s success.

After relinquishing his stake in Hype Century, he launched a new venture called Zagace. It is an online business management toolkit for small and medium-sized companies. It has Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) capabilities, enabling its users to manage their inventory, accounting, human resources, and communications through a series of integrated apps.

In 2015, Muyika was featured on Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 as one of the most promising young entrepreneurs from Africa. ‘‘Mr Muyika is enterprising and focused, I recommended him to Havard University but noticed that entrepreneurship came first and he had no obligation to pursue the course,” said Kenyan businessman Kirubi.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 22, 2021


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