INTERVIEW

Cheboi: a waiter from Baringo building hotel empire in the city

He is currently a board member of his Almer Mater, Kapluk secondary school, a Kenya Institute of Management graduate and a proud husband and father

In Summary
  • Albert Cheboi, the CEO of the Kipevu Group of Restaurants that has several branches in Nairobi
  • He started the business after securing Sh14,000 loan from a friend
Albert Cheboi, the CEO of Kipevu Group of Restaurants
Image: COURTESY OF EMMANUEL YESWAL

In his hometown, the dusty village of Kapluk Sub-Location in Kerio Valley in Baringo County, where he attended his primary and secondary school they fondly call hi Fujimori- a nickname he inherited from former Peru President owing to his love for history and quick grasp of political events.

He is, in their eyes, a hardworking son whose thirsty for success in life took him miles away to the coastal city of Mombasa two decades ago.

Upon return, he started literally with nothing, had to his name a chain of four model city restaurants whose clientele reads in the thousands and a staff of 100 highly skilled professionals.

 

This is the journey of Albert Cheboi, the CEO of the Kipevu group of restaurants, a man whose rise in the frisk world of business reads of resilience, focus, determination, and hope.

Born in 1974, Cheboi had grown up knowing he must do more to rescue himself and his family from grinding poverty. But his dream almost hit a snack when he dropped out of school in 1992 at Kapluk Secondary School.

His family could no longer afford his school fees. Buoyed by sheer determination, he went to Kabarnet town and secured a job as a waiter in a local hotel.

He made arrangements with the hotel owner so that he could be allowed to go to study in the library during the day and serve in the hotel at night. “It was really difficult.

This being my high school final year, I had to miss out on my Agriculture Practical because I was not in school, nonetheless, I miraculously managed to pass my KCSE exams,” he said amid giggles.

After writing his form four exams, he says, he went back to his waiter job but now at Saimo hotel.

He recalls with humor how the hotel owner fondly known as  Amin liked his service to the extent that he offered him free accommodation. But this was short-lived.

 

“One customer liked my service and instantly asked me to go serve in his hotel in Eldama Ravine Kabimoi town. As a young man, I was fascinated with the offer and going to a new town, I left the following day using a famed bus called Nyonyorwo,” he said.

Cheboi, a sociable character with unparalleled charisma and unique charm reminisces that his service at the new hotel in Eldama Ravine as a waiter, like the first one was also short-lived.

Another customer liked his work at Kabimoi Hotel and poached him to his newly opened bar called Chambai Complex.

“While working at Chambai, I also met more friends and after a short time, I met a man called John Kessei from Ainabkoi who requested to take me to Mombasa to work in his newly opened clearing and forwarding company. I accepted,” he recalls.

In 1994, while in Mombasa, he joined Kenya School of Monetary Studies for Diploma course in Banking and Finance but dropped midway due to lack of school fees.

Left with nothing to do and away in Mombasa, he says he got an idea to start a company to train company staff.

He named the company Millscap Training and Management Services Limited, but it collapsed after facing teething financial challenges.

It was until 2004 that he decided to try his hand in the food industry, a dream he harbored since his high school days.

He borrowed an Sh14, 000 loans from a friend to lease a shed at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Kipevu headquarters which he secured.

Armed with four staffers, two being himself and his wife Ivy, with whom he credits a lot on the growth of their empire, today Kipevu boasts of Kipevu Restaurant and Lounge situated along Thika Superhighway, Kipevu, Bima House Treasury Annex CBD, Kipevu Inland Container depot Nairobi (ICD) and newly launched Kipevu ACK All Saints Cathedral.

Notable in the Kipevu menu is Koriema Meat, the naturally-salted Baringo meat that inspired the annual Kimalel Goat Auction, a popular menu at Kipevu, CPA Centre along Thika Superhighway-with ample parking, 24hrs security, access to the highway and drinks to boot after work in the evening.

He also delivers food on Uber taxi and Uber Boda Boda from its All Saints Cathedral branch apart from hosting conferences, dinner parties, baby showers, family weekend’s outs, and corporate events.

''My dream and satisfaction are to see Kipevu become a Five-Star hotel in the near future, and create employment for hundreds of young people,” he notes.

He is currently a board member of his Almer Mater, Kapluk secondary school, a Kenya Institute of Management graduate and a proud husband and father.