Educationist Simon Gicharu has been inducted into the World Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame.
In the ongoing week-long event in Monaco, France, whose highlight will be the crowning of the 2015 Ernst and Young World Entrepreneur of the Year on Saturday, Dr Gicharu is among the 65 top business leaders from across the world to be feted for the final awards of the World Entrepreneur of the Year that will be held tomorrow.
Dr Gicharu, who is the founder of Mount Kenya University, is among three Africans selected to represent the continent at a global competition to award distinguished entrepreneurs.
The event, which is sponsored by Ernst & Young, is meant to recognise the accomplishments of entrepreneurs.
He will represent East Africa, alongside Wale Tinubu of Nigeria and Asher Bohbot of South Africa and will be among 65 entrepreneurs from 53 countries to be recognised as EY celebrates its 15th anniversary.
Mr Gicharu will compete for the World title and cement his legacy by entering the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame, joining the 572 previous country finalists since the global event started in 2001.
Equity Bank chief executive Dr James Mwangi was named the World Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 for his contribution to banking.
Mr Gicharu left the country on May 31 and held several engagements with other leaders and organisers of the event.
Before leaving for Monaco for the awards, Dr Gicharu told the Nation that he was humbled by the nomination, saying that it was a clear indication that his work had created an impact in the society.
“I am proud of the work that I started several years ago of transforming young people, it has not been an easy journey that has seen setting up of campuses in Rwanda, Somalia and in various counties in Kenya,” said Mr Gicharu.
He added that investing in education is not an ordinary enterprise as it requires a lot of resources and patience.
“It is about transforming young people from school and ensuring that they have transformed into required manpower in the society,” said Mr Gicharu.
“Earning the global recognition has not been easy,” said Dr Gicharu on the sidelines of the event. “It affirms Mount Kenya University’s reputation as being among the best institutions in the world.”
There are 65 contestants from 53 countries. Together, they have a combined revenue of $38 billion and employ over 334,000 people.
Mount Kenya University, the largest private university in East and Central Africa employs 4,000 people across six countries in Eastern Africa.
Dr Gicharu said that honesty and patience has been his philosophy and encouraged young Kenyans to be honest in whatever they do if they hoped to succeed.
Mr Gicharu, a leading entrepreneur, was selected by an independent judging panel made up of entrepreneurs, leading chief executive officers and regional business leaders.
He was picked for his contribution to education by creating a private university now with over 50,000 students and 4,000 employees, and also for its higher number of accredited academic programs among private universities in the country.
EY Entrepreneur of the Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs.
The award is given on the basis of entrepreneurial spirit, financial performance, strategic direction, innovation, global impact, personal integrity, influence and philanthropy.
He is credited with transforming a training college that was operating at a loss and could hardly meet its rent obligations, into a leading private university in the region.
Mr Gicharu started off with Thika Institute of Technology which grew into a fully fledged university in 2011.
In 2012, President Mwai Kibaki awarded him with the Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear, the highest State honour for a civilian for his role in promoting education and entrepreneurship.
Mr Gicharu, 51, was born in Kiambu and attended Kenyatta University where he pursued Bachelor of Education degree, specialising in double mathematics.
During the regional competition, Mr Gicharu was the overall winner while Mr Alex Nyaga of Parapet Group won the emerging entrepreneur category.
Mary Okelo of Makini Group of Schools won the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr James Mwangi, CEO Equity Bank Ltd, scooped the global award in 2012 for his contribution to banking.
Others include Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani, Inc. (United States), Olivia Lum, Executive Chairman and Group CEO, Hyflux Limited (Singapore); Cho Tak Wong, Chairman, Fuyao Glass Industry Group (China); Guy Laliberté, Founder and CEO, Cirque du Soleil (Canada); and Narayana Murthy, Founder and Chairman, Infosys Technologies Limited (India).