History and Background

trophyKenya’s Top 100 mid-sized companies Survey (‘Top 100 Survey’) is an initiative of KPMG Kenya and Business Daily. Business Daily is a publication of the Nation Media Group. The Survey was launched in 2008. The Survey focuses on fast growing mid-sized companies in recognition of the fact that the SME sector is a key contributor to Kenya’s economic growth. The Survey has adopted the cheetah to illustrate the qualities of fast growing companies.

What’s so special about the cheetah one might ask? The cheetah is one of the fastest animals on earth. Further, as a tourist attraction, it generates revenue. Ghanaian Economist Professor George Ayitteh says that Africa is influenced by two generations. On one hand, there is the “cheetah generation”, composed of pro-active Africans, who do not wait for the government to do things for them. Rather, through hard work and perseverance, they use the resources and opportunities available to them to create wealth.

On the other hand, there is the “hippo generation” – the ruling elite. The hippo is fat and moves slowly. History shows that African leaders have been painfully slow in enacting beneficial economic reforms. Rather than work hard for the benefit of their people, many grow fat through greed and corruption. That notwithstanding, delays in enacting progressive reforms can also be attributed to the lack of reliable information on Africa’s growth companies. This is why Kenya’s Top 100 mid-sized companies’ survey seeks not just to celebrate Kenya’s “cheetah generation”, but also to bridge the information gap on Africa’s growth companies.

The survey emphasizes objective, financial indicators rather than the more subjective non-financial indicators. In carrying out this survey, KPMG Kenya was following the cue of its European counterparts who have in the past sponsored “Europe’s 500.” The latter survey focuses on fast growing European SMEs and places special emphasis on their contribution to job creation. Companies are ranked using the Birch index, named after the small business research pioneer, David Birch. Birch found that rapidly growing firms (which he named “gazelles”) are responsible for most employment growth.

In June 2008, leading entrepreneurship researcher, Professor Zoltan Acs of George Washington University published a paper entitled “High Impact Firms, Gazelles Revisited.” This research revisits and expands on Birches’ research. The research findings suggest that governments and other development actors would benefit from “recognizing the value of cultivating high-growth firms versus trying to increase entrepreneurship overall.”

In Africa, a lot of development capital and policy making has been targeted at micro-entrepreneurs. Yet micro enterprises tend mainly to alleviate poverty and thus do not have an appreciable impact on economic on standards of living nor economic growth. More attention, therefore, needs to be placed on cultivating the SME sector and particularly SMEs in industries that have the potential to achieve significant growth.


Outstanding entrepreneurs will be continuously honored and celebrated as role models. These entrepreneurs will also play a key role in influencing Kenya’s youth to embrace a culture of entrepreneurship. Excellence in business, rather than political patronage, will be embraced as a sustainable and socially responsible means of achieving economic prosperity.


To identify Kenya’s fastest growing medium sized companies in order to showcase business excellence and highlight some of the country’s most successful entrepreneurship stories.


  • 1To create industry databases and thus (i) enable medium-sized (‘mid-sized’) companies to benchmark themselves against their peers (ii) highlight, to policymakers, their contribution to economic growth.
  • 2To support mid-sized companies in their growth by linking them with key service providers. These service providers will form relationships with mid-sized companies by sponsoring the survey and/or Club forum sponsors.
  • 3To facilitate networking amongst the Top 100 mid-sized companies.
  • 4To create platforms for the Top 100 midsized companies to engage individually and collectively in corporate social investment (CSI) activities and particularly those related to promoting entrepreneurship education amongst youth.
  • 5To collaborate with other like minded organizations and establish a Business Hall of Fame