Sportpesa is arguably the biggest and most recognizable sports betting firm in Kenya. Owned and operated by Pevans East Africa, it was founded in 2014 and has since grown in leaps and bounds to become a reputable international bookmaker. With a presence in Tanzania, South Africa, the Isle of Man, Italy and the United Kingdom, it has spread its brand across numerous sporting disciplines including football, rugby, boxing, horseracing and even Formula One.
But not much is known about this behemoth that is straddling across the gaming world like a colossus. Today we seek to unravel the faces behind this well-run outfit that is sponsoring and partnering with the giants of English football; the likes of Arsenal, Everton, Southampton and Hull City.
Seeking to tap on the multibillion shilling fortune of online gambling, Sportpesa was established as a partnership of wealthy and politically connected Kenyans and Bulgarian investors.
With an annual revenue of over Sh100 billion, the betting firm is said to gross an average of 1 million users daily who place each place an average bet of Sh100 besides a further 300,000 who play its jackpots daily.
They formed Pevans East Africa which owns 100% of the bookie. The 11 shareholders with their respective holdings of Pevans are as listed below;
- Guerassim Nikolov – 21% (Sportpesa Global CEO)
Bulgarian casino owner who moved from Sofia to Kenya 20 years ago. With his experience in gambling he has owned and operated casinos from his native Bulgaria to the Grand Regency Casino back in 2002. He is also a director on the board of Standard Global Kenya.
He is said to have provided the gambling and digital technology expertise required for Sportpesa’s takeoff.
- Gene Grand -21%
- Asenath Wacera Maina – 21%
An entrepreneur with ties to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party as a financier, she was a driving force behind the ‘Shinda Smart Sh90 million in 90 days’ promotion almost a decade ago. She is the widow to former Nairobi mayor the late Dick Wathika.
- Paul Wanderi Ndung’u – 17%. (Sportpesa Chairman)
An entrepreneur who built his fortune as a Safaricom distributor and is also the first Kenyan to acquire a forex trading licence via Taipan Forex Bureau.
Ndung’u is a also a major player at the Nairobi Securities Exchange where he holds substantial stakes in numerous listed companies including Kenya Re (2.3 million shares Sh45 million) and KenGen (0.28% shareholding)
- Ronald Karauri 7% (Sportpesa CEO)
The poster boy of Sportpesa, he is a former chairman of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association. He worked at Kenya Airways for more than a decade before leaving to try his luck in the gaming world.
He is the son of former Tigania MP Mathew Adams Karauri.
- Cellini Holdings Limited 3%
- Valentine Nikolaeva 3%
Bulgarian investor who together with fellow Pevans shareholders Guerassim Nikolov and Ivan Kalpakchiev owned the fallen Toto 6/49 which folded as a result of crippling debts.
- Robert Kenneth Wanyoike 3%
- Ivan Stoyanov Kalpakchiev 2%
Bulgarian gambling and lotteries investor
- Francis Kiarie 1%
- Peter Kihanya Muiruri 1%