Keroche gets new CEO after Tabitha Karanja takes a bow

Outgoing Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja and the incoming boss Potas Anaya at the company premises in Naivasha during the hand over on June 13, 2023. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Keroche Breweries Chief Finance Officer Potas Anaya has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer.

Anaya takes over from Nakuru Senator Tabitha Karanja who has stepped down after 25 years at the helm of the first large breweries in Kenya owned by a non-multinational company.

The changes take effect immediately.

As she handed over to Anaya, an emotional Karanja broke down as she narrated her tribulations while running the affairs of the company.

She attributed the company's success to her family, workers, distributors and consumers for believing in their vision.

"As I hand over the mantle of this company, I thank all who believed in us despite the politically motivated fight by KRA," she said.

Karanja leaves behind 17 brands, over 800 workers and an investment worth over Sh10B.

A renowned entrepreneur turned politician, Karanja is the founder of the company, and has won herself accolades around Africa due to her business acumenship.

In 2014, she was named the African Businesswoman of the year by CNBC Africa.

She begun the business with her husband, Joseph Muigai Karanja in 1997- making fortified wine, targeting the lower end of the market.

Sometime in 2007, when the government enacted heavy taxes on locally made wines, her product was priced out of the market before she switched to manufacturing ready-to-drink gin and vodka, which her state-of-the-art factory still makes today.

In 2008, she added beer to her repertoire of alcoholic drinks, beginning with a brand called Summit.

In 2013, the factory began expansion plans to increase beer production from 60,000 bottles per day to 600,000 bottles per day.

The refurbished plant, which cost Sh3 billion, was commissioned by the then Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization Adan Mohammed in March 31, 2015.

But in the recent past, Keroche has been facing tax woes, with the tax man slapping her with a Sh351 million demand.

According to KRA, the company owed the state some Sh22 billion in unpaid taxes.

In 2022, the taxman in an unprecedented move offered a blow-by-blow account of the 16-year-long battle with Keroche, including details of unpaid corporate tax, excise duty, VAT and penalties of Sh3.02 billion.

Mrs Karanja joined politics last year and was elected the senator for Nakuru County in her first stab at politics.

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