Tabitha Karanja and a range of her company’s drinks[/caption]
It was a thirst for success that saw Tabitha Karanja put herself in the role of a David taking on a Goliath.The 50 year old is the founder and boss of the only large-scale brewery in Kenya actually owned by a Kenyan. Mrs Karanja, one of only a handful of female brewery owners across Africa, set up the business – Keroche Breweries – with her husband back in 1997. Initially making a fortified wine, the company has since moved into spirits and, from 2008, making beer. Its lager brand Summit is now so popular in the country that earlier this year Keroche opened a $29m (£19m) expansion at its brewery in the town of Naivasha, 90km (56 miles) north west of the capital Nairobi. It will enable Keroche to increase its production ten-fold, from 10 million litres of beer per year to 110 million litres. The success has come despite the presence of a Goliath that has towered over the Kenyan beer market for more than 90 years – East African Breweries (EAB), part of UK-headquartered, multinational drinks giant Diageo. EAB continues to brew eight out of every 10 beers sold in Kenya, led by its Tusker brand. Such has been EAB’s dominance that Mrs Karanja has faced a struggle finding distributors willing to sell her beer. She has also had to battle against big tax rises and copycat rivals. Yet Mrs Karanja says she is confident that the expansion will enable Keroche to increase its share of the Kenyan beer market from 5% to 20%, and increase its inroads into EAB’s part of the market.