Former banker who quit to venture into real estate family business

Wilson Gitu at his office in Nakuru. He resigned from being the head of communication and marketing in a bank to venture into real estate. [Yvonne Chepkwony, Standard]

Despite having a promising career Wilson Gitu resigned from his position as head of communication and marketing at a local bank to venture into the real estate business.

For 11 years, Gitu had been working in the corporate world, but in 2010 resigned and joined his father's property firm Njoro Enterprise in a bid to save the business which has been in existence since 1999.

His involvement in the business has seen it grow to opening branches in Nairobi, Nakuru, and Machakos riding on the expertise he introduced including a focus on technology.

Gitu, who is now the chairman of the Nakuru Business Asscociation, also pins the decision to join the business on the lender he was working at, which was a family-run enterprise.

Having started from a junior position to the head of the corporate department was part of his inspiration to venture into business.

To transition, he trained himself on aspects of business and also enrolled for a master's degree in entrepreneurship.

In the beginning, his father was hesitant to the idea as he thought Gitu would struggle to fit in and cope having spent most of his adult life working in Nairobi.

The first contact with business was not a soft landing as he imagined, learning that real estate business required building networks from the grassroots levels, unlike the corporate world.

"Real estate needs building of networks from down going up, you can't say you're a property agent when you don't know where the properties are, who are the owners, unlike a corporate world in which the company name sells you," he said.

Gitu said that the field needs proper research to avoid fraudsters who have infiltrated the market.

What you hear and see in the industry he said might not be true, forcing him to build a network from the ground as well as fighting for space in the business.

"The nature of the business being working on a commission requires networking and partnership with other agents which you learned that people are not honest when it comes to money transactions which if not careful one can end up empty-handed," he said.

For the residential properties, Gitu explained that they have been recognized for their integrity and accountability by putting in place a system in which their client can monitor their money collected.

To improve the business, Gitu adopted technology to improve the business by shifting all the manual work to digital space.

He acknowledged that the digitalisation of services, has reduced workload and provided easy access to information.

Gitu has employed and utilized digital space in marketing and advertising the business through Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, website among other platforms.

"So far we have employed six persons, but we also work with qualified caretakers who we recruit with the landlords.

His lowest moments, he said, were four years into business, when a customer pretended to be selling a property yet they were fraudsters.

The incident he said made him learn the hard way as the alleged persons had doctored everything yet they were not the real owners.

He advised other property and real estate owners to keep records and put good structures in place to avoid being victims of fraudsters.

Some of his achievements he added are the transition he was able to make after erecting an office in Nairobi in 2017 and Machakos counties after clients requested their services in the areas.

He said that management in every county was different but has learned to adopt and understand customers' wants and needs.

"We run the business centrally, therefore we keep a compact team and work closely with landlords, we offer employees the opportunity to undertake courses of their choice and support them by offering flexible working hours," he said.

He said that they have participated in the marketing and selling 450 acres scheme which they were able to make a profit for the business.

"The economy is under pressure both externally and internally, the main thrust should be to undertake projects that bring in major inflows like high tech engineering, support fully value addition chains and industries in counties to have a local impact since we have human capital," he added.