Laila Macharia

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Laila Macharia
Alma materStanford University
Cornell Law School

Laila Macharia is a non-executive director at the Africa Digital Media group, ABSA Kenya (previously Barclays Bank) and Centum Investments, the largest listed private equity firm on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Raised in Kenya, Namibia and Somalia, Macharia is a Serial Entrepreneur and Angel Investor, investing in the education, health, finance, property and data sectors.



Macharia was born in Nairobi, Kenya and grew up in Kenya, Somalia and Namibia. At the age of 18, she relocated alone to the United States where she lived and worked until her return to East Africa in 2003.

Between 2007 and 2014, Macharia was the Founder CEO of Scion Real, an investment firm focused on urban development in Africa. The firm provides investment solutions for institutional investors and multinational corporations expanding into and within Africa. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, Scion Real provided transaction advice to the governments of Guinea, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan in the area of public-private partnerships for housing and urban infrastructure. For private projects, Scion Real raised funding commitments of more than US$30 million. In 2013, Scion Real was appointed to structure investor opportunities for Konza Technology City and also worked on the World Bank project identifying private sector investment for commuter rail stations under Nairobi Metro 2030.

Prior to establishing Scion Real, Macharia managed US$ portfolios and transactions for organizations in Africa and the United States. Her experience includes work at the New York office of Clifford Chance as a corporate associate. There, she coordinated a US$5 billion multi-currency bond financing program and supported a similar US$4 billion program issuing securities on the New York, Luxembourg and Tokyo Stock Exchanges. Macharia also managed an Africa-wide funding portfolio at the Global Fund for Women in Palo Alto, California.

In 2013, Macharia joined the Board of Directors of Centum Investment Company Limited, the largest listed private equity firm in East Africa with holdings across several sectors including health, education, renewable energy, financial services, real estate and fast-moving consumer goods.

Until her resignation in August 2016, Macharia was the elected Vice Chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance. KEPSA is the sub-region's largest business lobby, an umbrella federation including the Federation of Kenyan Employers, the Kenya Bankers Association and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers. In her rise to Vice Chair, Macharia worked for a decade within the larger KEPSA framework, supporting market development and progressive sector reform alongside stakeholders from various industries, counties and nationalities.

Among other charitable initiatives, Macharia in 2004 launched the Lollipop Project, a public-private road safety initiative, bringing together Nairobi County, several city schools and leading corporates to deploy crossing guards (referred to by the schoolchildren as “lollipops”) to over 100 Nairobi schools.


Macharia holds a doctorate in law (J.S.D) from Stanford Law School. Her dissertation focused on telecommunications sector reform in Kenya.

In 1995, Macharia earned a Bachelor of Laws (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M) from Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Planning and Public Policy from the University of Oregon.

Macharia has been admitted to the bars of Maryland (1996) and New York (2002). She is also an Advocate of High Court of Kenya (2006).


In 2004 and 2005, Macharia taught Business Law to undergraduate and graduate students at the United States International University in Nairobi. In 2009, she created the Real Estate Executive Program at the Strathmore Business School. She teaches periodically at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University as well as the Strathmore Law School in Nairobi.

On an ongoing basis, Macharia offers thought leadership, supporting leaders and entrepreneurs across the world.

Macharia has authored several publications. Her academic inquiries focus on the sociology of law, with a particular interest in market, regulatory and constitutional reform. Her current research focuses on how formal law and policy is negotiated in real life and how legal culture evolves, especially as societies modernize.


  • Models of Election Commissions in Africa (International Foundation for Election Systems, 1995)
  • PhD Dissertation: Informal Institutions and Telecommunications Reform in Kenya (2007)
  • "Voice and Reflexivity in Essential Resources: Reforming the Community Land Regime in Kenya" in Governing Access to Essential Resources (Columbia University Press, 2015)


For several years, she was a columnist for Business Daily Africa and remains a contributor to The East African.



  1. ^ "PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK: Dr Laila macharia". (Interview). Interviewed by Abigail Arunga. Retrieved 19 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Laila Macharia steps out as the new boardroom queen". Retrieved 19 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Africa Leadership Initiative, 2010 Fellows

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