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Real estate firm borne out of bitter lesson

George King’ori started his real estate business after being conned of land. A few years later when he was sacked from his full-time job, he had a fallback plan – the land selling firm he had started with a partner

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

When George King’ori, former Kenya Pipeline Sacco general manager saved enough money to buy a piece of land in 1995, he was ecstatic. He had saved for two years and qualified for a Sh325,000 loan.

He bought a plot in Sossian estate in Umoja with hope of one day putting up a home. In 2000, his dreams were cut short when he discovered that he had been conned and the person who had sold him the land was not the real owner. This encounter opened his eyes to the gaps that exist in the real estate industry since many of those who were running the sector were doing it unprofessionally.

“I visited different successful people in this sector and I learnt that only hard work and honesty can make you succeed in this industry and that is when an idea of starting my company was born,” he says.

In 2002 King’ori partnered with Joseph Njunge and they started and registered a real estate company known as Josekinyaga in Kitengela. The company was buying and selling plots as well as managing houses.

Since he was in full-time employment, his partner managed the company. “We started the company with only Sh30,000. With this amount we rented a single room and started by managing three rental houses for our friends who were living in Nairobi,” he says.

They wanted their business to look different, but by then they didn’t have enough capital to buy equipment such as computers. So, King’ori went to KPS dumping site got an out-of-service computer to make their office look ‘professional’.

It is only two years later that doors opened for them. They were contracted by an Indian company to subdivide and sell a 200 acres piece of land, which was situated at the heart of Kitengela. “We were to sub-divide that land into five acres plot and sell and we were to be paid on commission and the project was well accepted and in less than a year it was fully sold out,” he says.

After that project, they bought a plot and subdivided it into smaller portions. In 2007 King’ori lost his job at KPS. He was confused and he didn’t know where to start. His wife asked him to beg for his job back. King’ori refused.

“I was sacked because some people felt insecure. I had risen from an accountant to a general manager in duration of 14 years and other employees were complaining about my salary,” says King’ori. He decided to join his business partner on a full-time basis and they rebranded the company to Zinco Kenya Limited.

Currently, the company has 28 employees and they have opened satellite offices in Athi River, Mlolongo and Nairobi CBD and it is the real estate company behind most projects in Kitengela, Kajiado county.

However, he says that the journey has not been smooth because some of their trusted employees left their company to start their own and snatched their customers. Their future plan is to expand their coverage to other counties and create more employment.

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