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Business empire built from tree nurseries

Peter Wangai’s business interests span many sectors, but can be traced to a small village in Nyahururu where he started planting seedlings

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

Had anyone told Peter Wangai a few years ago that he would be a millionaire before he turned 35 years, he would have laughed them off. Growing up in Losogwa village, in Nyahururu, Wangai’s childhood was filled with childish fantasies that were doused by reality when he got home.

His family could not even afford basic needs such as education and clothing. Some days he went to school without carrying lunch, but this didn’t shatter his dream of becoming a successful businessman.

“I was determined to start a business despite coming from a poor background. I admired successful people from our village who drove big vehicles. I vowed that one day I would become someone’s role model,” says the 31-year-old man.

The founder of Goldenscape Group Limited, a group of companies that have interest in real estate, technology, cleaning, environment, interior design, landscape architecture, architecture, car hire and tours and travel got the idea to start a farm when he was in high school. He was first employed in a farm so he could supplement his school fees. His first job was managing a tree nursery for someone in 2003, when he was in high school.

He was paid Sh4,000 every month. After a year he decided to start his tree nursery. With no cash to buy the seedlings from seed companies, he started by collecting seeds from mature trees, drying them and broadcasting them and after 30 days he transplanted them. By then one kilogramme of eucalyptus seeds was going for around Sh3,000, an amount he could ill-afford.

“After transplanting I got 5,000 seedlings and I started marketing by word of mouth,” he said. His effort started bearing fruit and every week he could sell at least 10 seedlings at a cost of Sh50. This was a lot of money at the time, considering that he was still under his parents’ care.

Two years down the line he decided to grow a bigger nursery and include assorted seedlings, especially for trees, which could produce timber. He also registered his first company Goldenscape Trees Africa. “People love trees and the idea was easy to sell.

I received many requests from people who not only wanted to buy seedling, but also wanted to be trained about tree nurseries,” he added. He enlightened farmers and tree growers to view the act of planting trees as environmental advocacy as well as an income-generating practice.

In 2009 the company expanded and started buying fruits from farmers for sale. In 2013, the company diversified into construction of greenhouses and educating farmers on how to mint millions through greenhouse farming, within a short time and with little capital.

“I started by leasing a piece of land, which could take 100,000 seedlings and when all my seedlings were ready I used social media for marketing and the feedback was positive. We started to get orders some as high as 50,000 seedlings and this was my breakthrough,” he said.

Once the business was doing well, he diversified into real estate and in 2013 his company known as Silverstone Properties was registered. In 2014 it started its operation with an aim of developing houses and holiday homes, selling land and property management.

He reveals that he used Sh1.2 million to purchase land, which he later sub divided into 50 by 100 plots. After selling the plots he made a handsome profit and since then he has not looked back. Currently, he has sold over 200 acres in Laikipia and Nyandarua and the company has been contracted to manage more than 100 properties in Nairobi, Nyahururu and Nakuru.

“I have been lucky because so far I have not lost any money to con men like most of my colleagues who are in this industry. This is because I do thorough cross-checking before buying any plot and mostly buy my plots from the first owner,” he says.

He has set up other companies such as Goldenscape Landscape Architects and Interior Designers Limited, Silverstone Tours & Car Hire Services, Silverline Cleaners, Orion Brice Technologies and Verdura Groceries Limited.

“Verdura is our last born and is a grocery store based in Hurlingham where you can get organic foods and vegetables directly from the farm. We invested about Sh2.9 million in the store and we will be offering free delivery to people living in Nairobi buying groceries worth more than Sh1,000 online,” he said.

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