Jane Karuku – The fast-moving consumer goods guru

Jane Karuku, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Nairobi; Global Agenda Council on Food Security at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

Jane Karuku is a talented leader with an impressive track record. She has left a trail of successfully managed companies in her wake and it would be fair to say that everything she touches turns to gold.

Jane Karuku has more than 20 years of experience, most of which have been in the agriculture sector. She joined Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) on April 16, 2012 as its first female president. During her stint at AGRA, Karuku described her work as a fruit salad because it involved a bit of everything agri-business – research, marketing, policy, finance and agronomy. She told everyone who would listen that small-scale agriculture was a viable business and as such, smallholder farmers must be treated like entrepreneurs in any other sector. Her passion for this assignment was palpable.

Before AGRA, she had worked at Telkom Kenya, where she was the deputy chief executive and Secretary General from July 2010. During her tenure at Telkom Kenya, she was credited with transforming the organisation, which led to the creation of a new Telkom Kenya that was better able to face a new set of market challenges.

One of her key attributes is that she completely immerses herself into her assignments

Previously, she had worked with Cadbury Schweppes East Africa as managing director in East and Central Africa. She was responsible for operations in 14 countries across the continent. During her time at Cadbury, she conceived and implemented a highly successful growth programme for the business.

Karuku has also worked with Farmer’s Choice and New Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC). She has held various advisory roles in Barclays Kenya, Junior Achievement Kenya and United States International University (USIU) in Nairobi. In June 2013, she was appointed to the board of the UK government-led Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, a global initiative that advises policymakers on how to invest in agriculture to alleviate hunger and malnutrition. She has a degree in Food Science and Technology from the University of Nairobi and an
MBA in Marketing from the National University of California in the United States. One of her key attributes is that she completely immerses herself in her assignments.

Over the years, she has proved to be versatile in how ably she has adapted to every new role. She has also proved to be consistent in her leadership – her track record bears testament to this. In mid-2015, Karuku was named Managing Director of Kenya Breweries Limited, a high profile position in which she has once again proved to be more than qualified.

She is passionate about development on the African continent, noting that Africans need to set their own agenda.

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