Being land brokers nets couple Sh1 million

NAIROBI, KENYA: There is a saying that life begins at 40, and Mary Wangari Ndichu, 44, is as firm believer in it.
Up until four years ago, she and her husband, James Ndichu, 48, were struggling to get by.

The residents of Mzee Wanyama area on the outskirts of Nakuru town suffered innumerable sleepless nights, worrying about how they and their three children would survive the following day on a meager income.

Several times they went to bed with just porridge in their bellies, and sometimes they did not have even that luxury.

It was not until 2010 when the couple opened a general merchandise shop that they kissed poverty goodbye.

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Ms Wangari was a primary school teacher for six years, but opted to resign from the Government payroll to save her marriage.

Her husband has no professional training, and she felt her marital woes were a result of her making more money than he was.

Few options

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Back then, the couple lived in a house with a shop front in Tabuga village, which is along the busy Nakuru-Lanet road. After a couple of years of scraping to get by, they decided they had to do something to change their circumstances. They did not have much by way of savings, but they were ready to start with what they had.

They pooled what they could from Mr Ndichu’s income of Sh1,500 a month as a daytime watchman at a saw mill, and from other sources, and opened a shop with Sh5,000 in capital.
There were other well-established shops in the area selling the same things they were, so most months they recorded depressed sales. But with few other options available to them, the couple kept the shop open.

With time, the shop began to break even, and a couple of times, there were profits.
Their big break came in the form of an unusual customer early last year. The woman came by the shop and asked Wangari if she knew anyone selling plots in the area. Wangari had heard of a man selling land nearby and asked the customer to leave her contacts behind. She called the seller who asked her to tell her customer to be at the shop the following day.
The woman and the seller sealed a deal a day later. To thank Wangari for sending a customer his way, the man stopped by her shop and gave her Sh20,000.
Dramatic improvement
It turned out the man was a broker and had several plots he was looking to sell in the area. The couple entered a pact with him, and their financial situation improved dramatically.
For every plot or property they sell, the couple gets a 10 per cent commission.
With their proceeds, they have been able to purchase their own plot and put up a house valued at Sh1.2 million. They are also constructing single and double rooms for rent, as well as self-contained units.
Further, they have got into land brokerage, buying plots at low prices, developing them and selling them later at a profit.
The Ndichus also moved their shop to a new location with more traffic, which has improved its profitability. But it still does not top their earnings as brokers.
The couple can rake in anything between Sh300,000 and Sh400,000 on average in a month.
To cap their success, the couple bought their first car, which they are still learning to drive.
However, they urge those aspiring to get into their line of business to be careful.
“Nowadays, land is a thorny issue. One should be cautious with whom they are dealing with and verify that the land in question is not a public utility, or at the centre of a family or ownership dispute,” said Wangari.
“Prospective buyers should always make site inspections and check land details with the relevant authorities before committing to buy property.”

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