Lizzie Wanyoike was a renowned Kenyan businesswoman, educator, and philanthropist, who was the founder and chief executive officer of the Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBS). She was married to a former Member of Parliament, but they later divorced. She had four children, two sons and two daughters, who are also involved in her businesses and foundation.
Lizzie Wanyoike: Her Life and Career
Background and education
Lizzie Wanyoike was born in Murang’a County in 1951. She was the sixth-born in a family of ten siblings. Her father was a village chief while her mother was a peasant housewife. The family was of poor means, according to her own account.
Wanyoike attended Gathuki-ini Primary School, in Wathenge, Muranga County, before transferring to Kahuhia Girls High School, in Karuri, Muranga County, where she graduated with a High School Diploma. She was then admitted to Kenyatta University College (today Kenyatta University), where she graduated with a Diploma in Education.
In 1972, she was posted to State House Girls’ School in Nairobi, as a secondary school teacher, at a monthly salary of KSh 961 (approx. US$140 at that time). By 1975, She realized that working for someone else was not her calling. With her husband and other business partners, they established Temple College of Secretarial Studies, based in Nairobi.
Wanyoike, who served as Principal and instructor at Temple, approached management with ideas about expanding the course menu, as well as increasing student intake, management rejected her proposals. In 1999, armed with savings of KSh6 million (US$60,000) and a bank loan from Equity Bank Kenya Limited, worth KSh4 million (US$40,000), she quit Temple and established NIBS.
Founding of NAIROBI Institute of Business Studies
With the KSh10 million she had raised Wanyoike established NIBS in rented premises, starting with 25 students and two teachers, in 2000. After a rough start, by 2010, she had raised KSh134 million (US$1.34 million), which was used to construct the institute’s headquarters at Ruiru-Kimbo, Kiambu County, on a 10 acres (4 ha), piece of property.
By 2018, NIBS had a student population of over 6,000 and an instructor body numbering over 250, on four campuses at Ongata Rongai, Thika Town, Nairobi Central Business District and Ruiru-Kimbo, along Thika Highway. NIBS offers courses in business, hospitality, tourism, journalism, information technology, engineering, and beauty therapy, among others.
As of January 2018, Wanyoike, through NIBS, was in the process of developing a five-star hotel in the upscale neighbourhood of Kileleshwa, approximately 6.5 kilometres (4 mi), by road, north-west of the central business district of Nairobi. The hotel, named Emory, was completed in 2020 and has 120 rooms, a conference center, a restaurant, a bar, and a spa.
Wanyoike also owned Lizzie Preparatory Schools, a chain of private primary schools in Nairobi and Kiambu counties. The schools offer quality education and holistic development for children aged 3 to 14 years.
Lizzie Wanyoike Foundation
Philanthropy and social impact
Wanyoike was not only a successful entrepreneur, but also a generous philanthropist. She established the Lizzie Wanyoike Foundation in 2012, with the aim of empowering the less fortunate in society through education, health, and entrepreneurship.
The foundation has sponsored over 1,000 students from poor backgrounds to pursue various courses at NIBS and other institutions. It has also supported over 500 women and youth to start and grow their own businesses through training, mentorship, and microfinance.
The foundation has also partnered with various organizations to provide health care, water, sanitation, and environmental conservation projects in rural and urban areas. Some of the projects include free medical camps, borehole drilling, tree planting, and waste management.
Lizzie Wanyoike’s Personal Life
Marriage and family
Wanyoike was married to a former Member of Parliament, whom she met while studying at Kenyatta University. They had four children, two sons and two daughters, who are also involved in her businesses and foundation.
However, the marriage did not last, and they divorced in 1998. Wanyoike said that the divorce was one of the most painful experiences of her life, but she did not let it affect her vision and determination. She said that she forgave her ex-husband and maintained a cordial relationship with him for the sake of their children.
Wanyoike’s children are:
- Samuel Wanyoike: He is the eldest son and the managing director of NIBS. He oversees the operations and strategic direction of the institute. He is also the chairman of the Lizzie Wanyoike Foundation. He is married and has two children.
- Esther Wanyoike: She is the eldest daughter and the director of Lizzie Preparatory Schools. She is in charge of the curriculum and administration of the schools. She is also a board member of the Lizzie Wanyoike Foundation. She is married and has three children.
- David Wanyoike: He is the second son and the director of Emory Hotel. He is responsible for the marketing and management of the hotel. He is also a board member of the Lizzie Wanyoike Foundation. He is married and has one child.
- Ruth Wanyoike: She is the youngest daughter and the director of NIBS Beauty College. She is the head of the beauty therapy department and the trainer of the instructors. She is also a board member of the Lizzie Wanyoike Foundation. She is married and has two children.
Lizzie Wanyoike’s Legacy
Founding of NIBS and impact on education
Wanyoike’s legacy is evident in the thousands of students who have graduated from NIBS and have gone on to pursue successful careers in various fields. NIBS has also contributed to the development of the education sector in Kenya by offering quality and affordable courses that meet the market needs and standards. NIBS has also been recognized and awarded by various bodies for its excellence and innovation in education.
Philanthropy and community impact
Wanyoike’s legacy is also seen in the lives of the people who have benefited from her foundation’s initiatives. The foundation has transformed the lives of many individuals and communities by providing them with opportunities and resources to improve their livelihoods and well-being. The foundation has also inspired and motivated many people to give back to society and make a positive difference.
Her death and continued influence
Wanyoike died on Sunday, January 14, 2024, at the age of 72. She had been battling cancer for a while, but she did not let it stop her from pursuing her passion and purpose. She was surrounded by her family and friends when she passed away.
Her death was mourned by many people, including government officials, business leaders, education stakeholders, civil society organizations, and the general public. She was hailed as a visionary, a trailblazer, a mentor, and a role model for many Kenyans, especially women and youth. She was also celebrated for her achievements, her generosity, and her legacy.
Wanyoike’s influence will continue to be felt by the people and institutions that she touched and impacted. Her family, her businesses, and her foundation will carry on her vision and mission. Her story will also inspire and challenge many people to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world.
Lizzie Wanyoike was a remarkable woman who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most influential and respected figures in Kenya. She was a successful businesswoman, educator, and philanthropist, who founded and led the Nairobi Institute of Business Studies, among other ventures. She was also a loving mother, a generous giver, and a positive influence to many people.