In 2009, entrepreneur Lizzie Muthoni Wanyoike of the Nairobi Institute of Business and Technical College was having a hard time with landlords in Nairobi’s Central Business District.
Based at Cooperative House then, her student population had grown rapidly from the 200 she had in 2000 to 1,500, and it became a challenge instilling movement and discipline control among her students. She was ejected from the building.
“It is then that I decided moved to Ruiru Kimbo village where I bought a 10-acre piece of land for Sh50 million. It was a desert kind of a property where there were no commercial buildings, the only tenants around being the Kenya Defence Forces,” she says. “With no developments then, my premises became the focal point of thuggery. In a week, I would record at least four cases of criminals vandalising my facilities,” Ms Wanyoike says.
Within four months of Ms Wanyoike’s presence in the area, several developers started showing up to take advantage of the business opportunities her investment created.
“Some came up to build houses that they transformed into hostels for my students. Some even came to me to sign partnership pacts where I recommended my students to their hostels on condition that they guaranteed them good environment, security and pocket-friendly rates,” she says.
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Area Business Community Chairman Francis Onyancha says that in 2008 the area came to life after the college came to the area. “In 2010, an acre of land along the Nairobi Thika Superhighway on Ruiru-Kimbo stretch was selling at Sh5 million. Today the asking price for an acre along the Thika Superhighway stretch of Ruiru-Kimbo is Sh26 million. You will be lucky to get an acre for Sh20 million in the interior of this town,” he says.
Onyancha says he also invested in building hostels on a two-acre piece of land where he spent Sh80 million. “Today, the investment is worth Sh300 million with a monthly turnover of Sh30 million,” he says.