The Village Market has just marked 20 years since it opened its doors to the public. How has the journey been?
The journey has been long. When I look around at what we have accomplished, I am amazed by how the Village has grown. We started off with the idea of a small mall, maybe thirty or so shops. It has now blossomed into more than a shopping complex, with close to 200 shops and more to come as we complete phase seven that is currently under construction.
We have tenants who have been with us from the beginning. They always support us. The journey we have undertaken together is impactful because of the communication and exchange of ideas that relationships such as these accord us.
Many business establishments have been hit in the wake of security threats and travel advisories. How have you faired on?
We have felt the impact of insecurity. I doubt there is any sector in the country that has not been affected. The strategic location of the Village Market in the middle of a diplomatic zone, surrounded by embassies, and our ties and relationships with our neighbours allow us to be privy to their security updates and information. We are therefore always on top of what is happening and how we should position ourselves. More than ever before, we are investing in technology to assist us in the work and should there be real and credible threat, we would be the first to alert the public.
We are committed to using the best technology to screen and vet people who come in and out, the best being our sniffer dogs! We do appreciate any feedback or information that may help us in making the Village Market safe and secure.
A lot of construction has taken place at the complex. Is this an indicator that business is booming and demand for commercial space is on the rise?
Basically, we are responding to the needs and demands of our customers and their changing requirements. There is much interest in Nairobi and East Africa as a whole on the part of the international retailers. They see the growth of the middle class in Kenya and the high rate of economic growth as indicators for securing a presence in the market.
As an investor, do you feel the Government has done enough to provide the right investment climate?
Currently there is much interest in investing in Kenya and the Government has taken some positive steps to attract the potential investors to the country. This initial interest need to be responded to and we need to make it easier for them to conclude their business and contribute to development. There has been a change in the way business is being conducted. However there is still room for improvement.
Do you see the proliferation of shopping malls especially around the city affecting businesses negatively within your establishment in the near future?
I tend to look at the larger picture which is the contribution these new malls make in creating a shopping hub in Nairobi for the region. This is an exciting transition for Nairobi and will have a huge impact on wealth and employment generation. Within the next two years, once the projects at hand are completed, we should be able to see a considerable increase in interest from our neighbouring countries to visit us.
The Village Market started off as a shopping place but today, you boast of an array of facilities and services. What has been the primary driving force?
It is threefold: customers, tenants and our environment are all of equal importance. Customers are the primary driver for any business. It is from their ideas and needs that we are what we are. 20 years ago, the expectations were smaller but grew rapidly.
When we build, we look for spaces that will attract not only a certain kind of clientele but also a certain type of business provider. Our tenants need to be able to build their shops around the vision they have in their mind’s eye, so as much as possible we try to provide the foundation for them to do so.
Your personal thoughts?
I am confident that Kenya has much to offer and with the right paths laid out, we will showcase the country as one of the most diligent and forward-moving countries.
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