A Kenyan is finally back at the helm of East African Breweries Limited (EABL) after the brewer promoted Ms Jane Karuku, an insider, to be the new Group managing director.

Ms Karuku, who has been a member of the EABL board and is the current MD of subsidiary Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), replaces Andrew Cowan, an expatriate who has been the boss for four and a half years.

The brewer said Mr Cowan is taking up a new role in Diageo’s global business as managing director for Africa Regional Markets.

“Mrs Karuku is a dynamic business leader, with strong management experience spanning over 25 years in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and non-governmental organisations. A consummate leader, her expansive experience straddles strategy development, operational management, marketing as well as organisational change management,” the firm said in a statement.

EABL has for years relied on expatriates to run its corner office since Gerald Mahinda left the helm in 2009, and the appointment of Ms Karuku is a big win for the KBL boss who has played second fiddle for a long time.


Before joining KBL, she was the President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), where she was responsible for one of Africa’s largest grant-making organisations in the food security and agricultural development sector.

At Cadbury’s, she was responsible for operations in 14 countries across Africa and during her tenure she conceived and implemented a highly successful growth programme for the business in this period. Before Cadbury’s, Ms Karuku worked with Farmer’s Choice Kenya and Kenya Co-operative Creameries (now New KCC).

She has served on several boards including Barclays Bank, and is currently a Trustee of Precious Sisters, an organisation that empowers bright and underprivileged girls though education.

She is also the current chairperson of Kenya Vision 2030 Board. She also recently led the Kenya Fund Board that was created by President to marshal funds for combating coronavirus.

Her replacement

Her MD role at KBL will now be taken over by Mr John Musunga. He has more than 25 years of experience in general management, sales, and marketing.

He joins EABL from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) where he began his career as a sales representative and progressed through roles of increasing responsibility, including that of managing director and general manager of the multinational’s Kenya and East Africa Business.

Most recently, he was responsible for leading GSK’s vaccines business in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Eastern Europe. He has previously worked in regional and global roles and lived in Belgium and South Africa.

Mr Musunga has served on several boards in various capacities. He served as a Non-Executive Director on the Vision 2030 Board, chaired the Kenya Association of Pharmaceuticals Industry, and also chaired the Kenya HIV/AIDS Business Council among other boards.

The appointments of Ms Karuku and Mr Cowan will take effect from January 1, 2021 and Mr Musunga’s appointment is effective March 1, 2021.

Mr Cowan will remain a member of the EABL board.

“Jane brings with her remarkable wealth of experience having served within the board and also managing the Kenya business. I am very confident that her depth of expertise and knowledge of the business will lead the Group to future growth in line with our strategy,” EABL Group board chairman, Dr Martin Oduor-Otieno, said.

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