Universities, tourism presents good opportunity to Mombasa property market

MOMBASA, KENYA: In his office situated at Mombasa Trade Center, Mwenda Thuranira cuts the image of a passionate business man with burning ambition of finding coast residents a better place to call home.

Twelve years ago after unsuccessful attempt in aviation industry which took him to the US to train as a pilot, , he founded My Space limited, a Mombasa based property company linking buyers to property sellers, guiding investors on prime areas to build for better returns and also helping developers meet their demands.

He says through the company he has been part of multi-billion projects in Mombasa such as the Sh5 billion English Point Marina, and the Sh1.2 billion Nyali view park project among others.

The iconic English Point Marina has a 26-room hotel, conferencing facilities, a roof-top restaurant, a gym and spa, a swimming pool, 96 serviced apartments and eight penthouses. It also has a popular boardwalk that features retail outlets, water-sports centre and a fully-serviced 88-berth marina.

During its launch early this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that the facility will put Kenya on the map of the luxury yacht market and the investment is set to open up Coast to the high-end international ocean traveler.

Mwenda Thuranira-CEO, Myspace Properties

Mr. Thuranira says he traces his passion to property business when as a pilot student in the US he opted to join a construction site as a casual laborer where he worked on different sites for sometimes before moving to work for a property company.

The journey first as a construction worker then at a property firm raised his experience and enabled him to understand the business in a 360 degree type. He says that as a construction worker, he gained the technical experience while in the company he learnt business skills which includes linking buyers to developers and how to organize financing for buyers.

Around the year 2006 when the United States of America was experiencing property market in the US went down, he decided to come back home to Kenya and apply his expertise locally. This is what gave birth to My Space limited which currently employs hundreds of Kenyans.

“My journey began after several tries and hands on experience in the property market,” he says in an interview adding that it is the hands-on experience he gained in the US that has made him manage the company.

“I can attest that real estate industry in Kenya and Mombasa in particular is headed to the right direction with apartments and currently shopping malls taking up the town which was previously known for the Swahili houses,” he says.

He says that the booming business in the education sector is also a plus to the coastal region as many universities are setting up branches to reach out to students. Developers are coming up with apartments to host students and also decent buildings for lecturers and teaching halls.

Some of the institutions which have set base in Mombasa include Moi University, Pwani University, Daystar University, Technical University of Mombasa, and Kenyatta University among other colleges.

Since MySpace entered into the real estate market at the Coast it has been able to transform a number of things.

The CEO says they entered into the market during the 'dark days' when estate agents were seen as people whose interest was to swindle clients.

However, property agent business is now seeing as a genuine business which has been able to employ thousands of people.

"We have been able to restore dignity in this noble business. We are now thinking of how best we can improve the business to be able to employ thousands of other jobless youth in this country," says Thuranira.

However, there are challenges that hinder the smooth growth of this industry among them lack of proper government systems.

According to MySpace CEO, there are a lot of bureaucracies involved when one wants to get approval for a plan of a house or property.

An investor will be forced to walk in and out of government offices for more than six months to get his/her plan approved. These bureaucracies scare away investors.

Another challenge is project financing.