Optiven Limited is a Real Estate company founded to empower property investors in Africa. Our flagship product is Value Added Plots which have been transformed and made suitable for immediate settlement and futuristic capital gain focus.
Optiven Group’s CEO George Wachiuri on May 17 2019 joined other top corporate heads at a special dialogue forum between the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the European Union Business Council and that was hosted by Kenya’s President H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House, Nairobi.
During this meeting, several Kenyan and foreign companies outlined their expansion as well as new investment plans in the country totaling to over Shs40 billion.
Speaking at the meeting, Optiven CEO Mr. George Wachiuri noted that Optiven is committed to enhancing sustainable livelihood through creating jobs opportunities for the youthful Kenyan populace.
He highlighted Optiven Group’s hugely successful Graduates Mentorship Program that was launched in 2019 and that seeks to empower 50 graduates every year as a model that should be emulated by other corporates as the country seeks to reduce the number of her unemployed youths.
“As Optiven Group, our model is already working well as we continue to transform our society and perhaps that is why we were recently singled out by London Stock Exchange as one of the companies that will inspire Africa in 2019,” he said.
Besides Optiven Group, other companies that were present at this forum included Afrinol Holdings Ltd, Nopiaride, BASF and Noorbrook Pharmaceuticals.
Others were FunKidz, De La Rue, General Electric and Bidco, Isuzu amongst others. All these companies are seeking to expand their local investment portfolios in the country.
Happy International Day of Families to you! The day is celebrated on the 15th of May and is recognized by the United Nations since 1993. While the celebrations are a big deal for organizations such as Optiven Group, that are family centric, there is a new shift in how families exist in this century.
It is no longer the norm for families to be dependent on one another as was the case in the 1980’s where every opportunity to gather members was a time to look forward to and celebrate. In any case, the support for both celebration and need such as health, illness and even death was core to ensuring that family names are protected and members are comfortable.
The bane of the current lifestyle where a majority of families remain scattered, has not only affected the relationships between the younger generation but similarly the lives of octogenerians many of them either retired honorably or retrenched owing to ill health or simply old age.
In a country where the rate of employment is a sore thumb and the available jobs are too few to cater for the ballooning number of experienced workforce or even the millions of graduates being churned out from universities, it is no wonder that by the time one is 35 years of age, they are considered to be too old to work.
At that point no family members are willing to take on the baggage of another member seeing that they themselves are struggling to make ends meet. But what has happened to families in the recent past? In some countries especially in Europe, the care of older parents has been left to homes for older people – perhaps because no one has time for anyone anymore.
The trend though yet to hit Kenya shows all the signs of being adapted in this African nation at least in the next 10 or 20 years to come. Society is no longer obliged to ensure that children are left with inheritance of land as was the case in the 1960’s. The situation is made more complicated amidst rising urbanization and the movement of people from the cities to peri urban areas.
The reality is that life has changed and with that change, the need for one to consider how their current investments will advise the future. Gone are the days when people retired to go back to rural areas because now the land is no longer there. It is also dawning that indeed east or west, home is not always the best especially if you do not have your own to call home.
It is this reality that led the Optiven Group to consider how to walk the youth to a more comfortable future through offering affordable investments in real estate. George Wachiuri, the Chief Executive at Optiven Group is not new to youth empowerment and is a keen enabler towards achieving the corporate goal of social and economical empowerment of the society.
This year, the company kicked off a new campaign aimed at enabling the youth to acquire land in simple installments either individually or as a group. According to Wachiuri, the initiative is the second that the company has embraced to widen the number of youth placing their money in future ventures as opposed to spending it on betting and unprofitable lifestyles. Wachiuri who is a much called-upon speaker at SACCO Annual General Meetings, Universities, Corporate meetings and government forums says, ‘as a country we will be sorry that we did not guide our youth to invest because we saw their plight and did nothing about it’.
This he said was the catalyst that led Optiven Limited to provide the youth with an opportunity to invest in real estate with minimal monthly deposits that lead them to meeting the dream of land ownership. ‘It is through offering youth with opportunities in real estate that they are able to appreciate what difference it can provide in their lives’, he said.
His comments come shortly after the company launched a new campaign that will enable youth to acquire property by paying a minimum of 16000 per month for a period of 48 months. He noted that the initiative is not only a tool to empower youth and the society, but also as a way to give back.
He sums his comments thus :”for us at Optiven we have put the families of this country at the heart of all that we do in the four areas of focus which are High Performance Culture, Automation, Innovation and Cost Management. This is because we value families and encourage them to invest together”.
This will definitely make a difference in the lives of someone whom hopefully will in the next few years open the doors of their homes to family and friends, because of their investment today. After all it is said that a tree with a shade is a result of a seed grown in the past.
As the world celebrates families today, it then advises the decision of men and women alike to make deliberate decisions and make investments that will ensure a comfortable future such as in real estate. In resonance with the theme for the 2019 International Day for Families – Families and Climate Action: Focus on SDG 13 – we wish you all happiness and continued unity in your families.
FROM THE UNITED NATIONS ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR FAMILIES 2019
Although families all over the world have transformed greatly over the past decades, they are still recognized as the basic unit of society. The International Day of Families provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting them.
It has inspired a series of awareness-raising events, including national family days. In many countries, including Kenya, this day is an opportunity to highlight different areas of interest and importance to families.
The International Day of Families is observed on the 15th of May every year. 2019 Theme: “Families and Climate Action: Focus on SDG 13 which targets improvement of education and integration of climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
The international day for books is not among the many important global observances that is celebrated the world over. Perhaps because not many are avid readers or lovers of books in particular. It takes a lot of discipline and even more, a desire to improve on one’s knowledge to be able to be a reader.
While the traditional way of reading is changing in current times, the space of technological advances in the likes of kindle and online books, does not improve the number of people who read. One can say that this is perhaps advised by a generation where patience as a virtue is seldom practiced with people instead embracing with glee the free things in life which are also presented instantaneously.
There are some who have not read a single book in the last seven years and when you meet with them to converse about the trends that are changing the world, you get a blank look. It is worse if you are a keen reader and can easily adapt to the new words that now form what one can assume is everyday communication.
The state is even more saddening for those in business who have no time to build on their knowledge through reading – a discipline that should be akin to eating especially for those in leadership. In any case, this has been slapped with reality by the words of Harry S. Truman, who said, ‘Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers’. As a leader, what have you read today?
As a leader “if you want to innovate, read.” Innovation is all about new ideas but where do you go to learn about what worked in the past and what might work in the future? Read. How do you develop the intellect and the library of ideas on which to draw for innovation? Read. For those seeking to venture in business, how do you cultivate your credibility and compete for the attention of venture capitalists or those who will sponsor your innovations? Read.
At present, the Internet, opportunities for learning have skyrocketed. Respected universities make courses available free online, Amazon offers books for free online just by downloading them to your Kindle or to a Kindle application that runs on almost any platform. The Internet Archive (archive.org) has 2.5 million free books. The aim is to advance knowledge, creativity and educational excellence but sadly this is not the case with dropping levels of knowledge on life’s facts.
The secret is that the solution lies right at our fingertips. The decline of people’s intellect is often blamed on the rise of cable television and the Internet, but it began long before that. While as a society we have learned the skill of reading, we have no longer acquired the practice. Sure, people read, but usually as a last resort — on the plane, when you’re sick, “to fall asleep.” Most people abandon all attempts at reading as soon as some alternative media is even remotely available.
One of the key excuses given by those who do not read books is that really there is no time for it. Often such excuses are accompanies by a myriad other reasons including ‘I have an 8 to 5 job’, ‘My children have a lot of homework’, ‘My priority right now is putting food on the table and getting my health back’ and many others.
While all these are facts of life, the place of reading should not be placed alongside any of life’s happenings. The thing about literary people is, their life and perspective is far expanded beyond the small reach of their immediate borders. They see things through others eyes and in other times and places. If you want to go beyond a limited view of the world, your own immediate experiences, your own restrictive cognitive reality, the experiences of your very own last year or two, reading will do this for you.
It is the lack of reading that continues to slow innovation even in great corporations that once led the way in thoughtful yet life changing ideas. This is because innovation is driven by knowledge which is sourced from among other sources books that if read, provoke our minds to think. Without thinking one dies and innovation becomes a dream whose reality will never be experienced.
But why are there so many of us who do not read? Writing in the Psychology Today journal, Dr. Peter Toohey noted that people are getting their story-shot right now not just from books but also from TV and movies, and also, unexpectedly and increasingly, even from audiobooks.
With this particular case focusing on the USA, Toohey’s sentiments seem to be proposed by Michael Kozlowski, the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader, as he reckons that, audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in the digital publishing industry. Locally, it has been in the mainstream space that as Kenyans we do not have a reading culture among us not just books, but also newspapers.
A survey released by GeoPoll in 2015 revealed that only 20% of the youth in Kenya aged 15 years to 35 years read newspapers and magazines. The average youth in Kenya is distracted by different media much of which is passive making it difficult for them to embrace the discipline that comes with reading. Have we become human goldfish?
A yes may be the truthful answer then, especially if the study by Microsoft Corporate in 2015 is true that the attention span of a person is 8 seconds – 4 seconds down from what it was in 1995. The exception is of course when the youth are reading for examinations or employment. It is no longer savvy to engage in a communication and quote a literary writer the likes of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Chinua Achebe and even Chimamanda Adichie and win admiration.
And as we celebrate the international day for Books today, it is time to go back to the discipline of creating time and read – preferably from a book. While time is moving fast, the challenge also goes to those with a passion for writing be they autobiographies, fiction, scientific, motivation and even religious, to get that pen, be creative and keep writing. To all readers, Happy International Book Day 2019.
The question of whether Kenya is about to witness a real estate bubble burst has recently been popping in some quarters and most time, propagators of this issue, have been as far from the truth as the earth’s geographical poles.
What is a Real Estate Bubble?
A real estate bubble is an economic cycle characterized by a rapid escalation of property prices followed by a contraction. A bubble is created by a surge in property prices unwarranted by the fundamentals of the property and driven by exuberant market behavior. When no more investors are willing to buy at the elevated price, a massive sell-off occurs, puff! – causing the bubble to deflate.
Bubbles can often be hard to identify, due to difficulty in accurately estimating intrinsic values. Fundamentals can be estimated from rental yields or based on a regression of actual prices on a set of demand and/or supply variables.
A bubble simply happens with the change of market psychology moving from ‘These property prices seem irrationally high but they are increasing incredibly fast, so let’s buy a property a.s.a.p.’ to simply ‘This property prices seem irrationally high and they are not increasing incredibly fast anymore so let’s just wait and see’ Then puff! The burst will occur.
According to Investopedia, a housing bubble ordinarily starts with an increase in demand, in the face of limited supply, which takes a relatively long period of time to replenish and increase. Speculators enter the market, further driving demand: Then at some point, demand decreases or stagnates; at the same time supply upsurges, resulting in a sharp drop in prices – and then the bubble bursts.
Usually, the housing market is not as prone to bubbles as other financial markets due to the large transaction and carrying costs that are associated with owning a property. However, a combination of very low-interest rates and a loosening of credit underwriting standards can bring many borrowers into the market and fuel demand.
A rise in interest rates and a tightening of credit standards can lessen demand, causing the housing bubble to burst. Talking of interest rates, over-borrowing from banks to fund property purchasing is a key ingredient to real estate bubble.
This has been witnessed in matured, first world economies such as the United Stated of America, Australia, China and Poland, amongst others.
Kenya not a Credit Economy
Here in Kenya though, we are not a credit economy, we are a consumer economy. We do not depend on borrowing as much, to finance our projects such us building our family homes. In fact, Kenya has very few mortgages – actually insignificant: There were 26,187 mortgage loans in the market by December 2017 (according to the CBK’s Bank Supervision Annual Report 2017) slightly up from 24,059 recorded in December 2016, out of a population of 51 million Kenyans as per the latest United Nations estimates!
Our low figures as quoted by CBK are also supported by a study titled ‘The home ownership survey’ that was conducted by the Centre for Research on Financial Markets and Policy, and that was carried 4 years ago which found out that mortgage, as a home financing alternative was taken up by only 6% of respondents, compared to a whopping 54% of Kenyans who preferred personal savings that are not attached to any loans as their mode of home financing
Kenya is in ‘kindergarten’ in terms of the property market, an economy that is too young to experience what happens in Europe. These are matured economies; these are economies where credit is available at the lifting of a phone. You call and you get money into the account, you don’t need to go and negotiate for the credit, you can apply online. Things are different in Kenya, because getting credit here is not easy.
So, there are two key indicators of a property bubble: Number one, people are unable to service their mortgages. Once they are unable to service their mortgages, banks come in calling to reposes the property. They will go out there and try to resell this property but it will not be taken up, because everybody is under economic pressure. So they end up selling these properties at a throw away price.
Number two; property prices drastically drop because there is oversupply and less demand. A bubble is characterized by poor property uptake or as low as 0% to 10%. And Kenya is way off this line; there is more demand and under-supply. There is a shortage of 250, 000 houses annually!
Kenya’s Growing Population
The demand for real estate is increasing and it is first being fueled by our growing population. With its current 51 million people; this East African nation currently ranks number 27 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population in the world. 27.1% of this population currently lives in the urban areas (14,149,974 people in 2019). All these people, obviously, require habitats. And we are growing so fast that every 20 seconds, one birth is registered, according to the CIA World Fact Book.
Kenya has also seen exponential middle class growth. These are the people who are able to get mortgages, and able to construct their own homes. This middle class is fueling a lot of growth in the real estate.
Kenya has a huge numbers of expatriates. These, according to him, are people who are working for international organizations like the United Nations, the IMF, and the World Bank and for big multinationals that have established their regional hubs in Kenya like Google, Foton, Visa Inc, Volvo, amongst others. These are people who require prime properties in Kenya.
Kenya has also been witnessing a lot of diaspora inflows. According to Diaspora Remittance Fact Book 2016, Kenya received Kshs163 billion in 2016 and it is being projected that the country will receive more.
If you look at countries like Nigeria, they received 2.3 trillion with Kenya receiving 2 trillion. Kenya was number 3 on remittance (in 2016) and these are official remittances. This means that unofficially, this country could be receiving 4 times more. 60% of this money goes to real estate with the other percentage going to support families and these are the people who are making the real estate prospects to continue looking up way into the future.
Kenya is also seeing huge amounts of infrastructural developments. The Kenyan Government has been rolling out huge projects that range from LAPSET, Standard Gauge Railway, major by-passes around its capital city, the Turkana Wind project, amongst others.
Bottom line, the possibility of whether there is a property bubble in Kenya is as far from reality as the earth is to the blue skies.
According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people currently live without safe water. Growing demands, coupled with poor management, have increased water stress in many parts of the world. Climate change is adding dramatically to this pressure. By the year 2030, an estimated 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity.
Yet, water is important for our survival. We all need water to have functioning bodies, running cities, operational industries, vibrant agriculture and balanced ecosystems. More importantly, water is a human right and nobody should be denied access.
The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is based on the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, under, SDG 6, which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by the year 2030. By definition, this means leaving no one behind, everyone must benefit.
Here in Kenya, the United Nations classifies this East African Country as chronically water scarce, on the basis of having one of the lowest natural water replenishment rates, which stands at 647 metres cubed per capita per annum. Estimates of water supply in the country indicate that only about 56% of the population has access to safe water.
Driven by the need to supply as much clean water to all the customers that we help settle in our projects, Optiven Group is always committed to drilling bore holes in these projects. “We always sink these boreholes and pipe the water to respective plots, just to make sure that our customers are not struggling to get this very precious commodity,” says Mr. George Wachiuri, Optiven Group CEO
Optiven is therefore living up to the 2019 World Water Day’s clarion call, to make sure that no one is left behind, as we supply clean water for domestic use to thousands of homes within our projects.
“I feel a great regard for trees; they represent age and beauty and the miracles of life and growth.” This is a quote that is attributed to one of the greatest trees lover, who has ever lived: Prof. Wangari Maathai. Indeed, the beauty and miracles of trees, and by extension forests, cannot be overstated. They help to keep our air, soil, water and people healthy.
Forests have fundamental ecological functions that play a key role in shielding us from some of the biggest challenges that the World is facing today.
This includes regulation of the carbon and water cycles and the preservation of biodiversity, eliminating hunger and keeping both rural and urban communities sustainable. Forests will be more important than ever as the world population climbs to 8.5 billion by 2030
That is why, every 21 March all countries in the World poses for a moment to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests. This year, the International Day of Forests promotes education to ‘Learn to Love Forests’. It is a day that the World highlights the importance of education at all levels in achieving sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation. Healthy forests mean healthy, resilient communities and by extension, prosperous economies.
That is why Optiven Group, a leading real estate firm in the region chose to set aside this day and plant trees at the heart of Kiambu County, in one of our major projects by the name Amani Ridge the Place of Peace.
During this event, Optiven Group’s CEO Mr. George Wachiuri led both staff and customers in planting hundreds of both fruit trees and indigenous trees in this sublime upcoming project. Some of the customers who have invested in this amazing project got a chance to plant fruit trees in their own plots of land.
“We are in sync with this year’s theme for the International Day of Forests which is ‘Forests and Education’. As we plant fruit trees here at Amani Ridge, we are also sensitizing our staff, customers and indeed the entire world, on the importance of trees and forests.
We appreciate the fact that more than half of our world’s population live in cities. A huge chunk of this urban population are increasingly disconnected from nature, it is more indispensable now more than ever to make them understand and own the idea of loving trees and appreciate their immense environmental benefits,” says Mr. Wachiuri
Information with regard to your investment in the real estate sector now goes a notch higher after it’s debut on the eCitizen platform. This follows the finalization of the digitization process through at the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning.
For the Optiven Group through Optiven Limited, this is especially welcome news as it will serve the best interests of our clients both locally and in the diaspora with up-to-the-minute updates on their investments.
Commenting on the new development, Mr. George Wachiuri, the Chief Executive at Optiven Group noted that the move is welcome considering it meets two key aspects that will advise the core areas of focus in 2019. Wachiuri says, “At Optiven Group we are looking at automation and innovation to drive us in 2019 and with the new development with regard to the real estate industry, specifically the sourcing of information for land searches, will serve our customers well”.
His sentiments come on the heels of the launch of the service in Nairobi County at an affordable rate with Mwenda Makathimo, Executive Director at the Land Development and Governance Institute LDGI noting that “the service will greatly help investors do away with brokers.” Makathimo adds that though the digitization of land searches is a step in the right direction, there is still more to be done. He called on the stakeholders to work on He called on the stakeholders to work on making the new system efficient and consistent.
The onus will now fall on companies in the real estate sector to register their property’s details on eCitizen and keep updated records with any changes that take place on the property.
The Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning through the Lands Registry Department will verify the information provided when one registers and uploads property information on the platform with the records they have at hand and the support documentation provided.
Not to be left behind are investors who will also have an opportunity to track the conveyance process via the “Track Application” option. This saves time as one doesn’t have to keep visiting the ministry’s offices or a lawyer to get an update.
Mr. Charles Muraguri, the Director for Projects at Optiven Group singled out the ongoing digitization operations noting that: “due diligence is to be encouraged to safeguard customers and give them peace of mind when making investments in land. At Optiven Limited we are renown for our open nature of doing business and remain accountable to not only our associates and stakeholders, but largely to our customers who are the core of our operations.”
His sentiments were echoed by Mr. Wachiuri who added that : ‘because of our engagement with the clients in terms of accountability, Optiven Limited has been feted over and over again – mainly in Branding and Customer Service – both at the local level and internationally as well’. Wachiuri called on stakeholders in the real estate sector to embrace efficiency and reliability if more investors are to place their money in the sector.
HOW TO VERIFY BEFORE INVESTING
Identify the land you want in terms of location, size and soil type.
Get a copy of the land title deed from the seller in-order to facilitate the search, where you fill a search application form submitted with a copy of the title and a processing fee of 520/-
Redo the search at the county office where the property is located to unearth any unpaid land rates.
Obtain two land mapsfrom the Land ministry or a local surveyor. One map is usually drawn to scale and the other an overview showing adjacent plots.
Visit the land together with the seller and surveyor to verify dimensions and presence of beacons to avoid future disputes on land boundaries.
The law requires the transaction to be in writing so get a sale agreement and legal evidence is important though not mandatory so engage a lawyer.
Transfer and procure completion documentsat the lands ministry –on provision of the necessary documents and takes two weeks to process a deed.
Stamping the transfer– you will need to pay Stamp Duty based on the value of land, payable after a valuation of the property is made. This Stamp Duty is payable online via the KRA Itax portal.
Post purchase activity – After a week or two, you as the buyer should do another
So how do you go about searching for your piece of land on eCitizen?
Log into your eCitizen account
Select the Ministry of Lands and Physical section
Select make application
Fill in the tasks and queries in the different areas including:-
Here’s the thing: Women have different investment goals as opposed to men. According to a study that was recently conducted by Earnest & Young, fulfilling personal goals is seen as the most important investment priority by affluent women (40%), significantly ahead of market out performance (31%).
In contrast, male investors see pure performance as their leading objective (37%) and consider personal goals as a lesser priority (34%), notes the study.
“The split is even more marked among younger investors, with 30% of millennial women prioritizing personal goals, compared with just 21% of millennial men. This is a vital insight for wealth managers to grasp, and underpins many other gender based preferences,” the study reveals.
Both the global female income and wealth are growing way faster across the world than ever before. And more women than ever before, are pursuing higher education, increasing their future earning power. In developing countries like Kenya, women are pouring into evening classes in their masses, to pursue their higher education.
While women continue to outlive men, they are also retiring early in many markets and are therefore making up an increasingly important segment of retirement saving markets. The transfer of pension responsibilities from governments and corporations to individuals is also accelerating across the world, and guess who is taking charge of these pension funds? You guessed it right, women.
Bottom-line, women are a fast-growing economic power in many leading and developing economies and are quickly set to overtake their gender counterparts, sooner rather than later.
The buzz around the International Women’s Day was much less the drama that preceded and followed the purported “Men’s Conference”. However, the day was none the less hard to avoid seeing the great role that women play in society. Gone are the days when women folk were known for their prowess in chores within the family home and in the case of the African context, their capacity to churn our children – preferably boys to carry on the family name.
The heritage of what women can do has over the years seen a number of them step into spaces traditionally meant for men. Whether it be in Europe, Asia, America and even here in the motherland Africa, women continue to make strides in this century that only a few decades ago were a mere imagination in a quiet mind.
More and more women have found empowerment in getting decent opportunities for employment and with it a wider opportunity to make independent choices on investment, health, family, and general wellbeing. Gone are the days when a majority of women if not all were dependent on their husbands or family members for day to day survival. While there still exists a gap in terms of gender parity in the workplace, there has been conversation on the place of women not just in the office but also in board rooms where decisions are made.
Women On Boards Network chairperson Catherine Musakali says companies would benefit by appointing more women to their boards as research shows that gender diversity is good for business. Inadequate representation of women on boards, she adds is the reason behind policies that entrench gender biases and hostile work environments.
A 2015 study by the Institute of Directors Kenya found that women account for 30 per cent of board memberships in Kenya, mainly boosted by constitutional requirements. A few names that come to mind include Kenya’s own the late Professor Wangari Maathai who was the first woman in Kenya to win the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to better the environment through activism, participation and civic education among others.
Then there is the woman who changed the environment in Kenya for the best in terms of environmental degradation and putting an end to unsightly plastic bags stuck on highways and filling our landfills. Professor Judy Wakhungu was part of the team that pulled out every peg to ensure that come what may, the law to curb the use of plastic bags in Kenya would be implemented – a fete that came full circle in 2017.
After years of mitigation from 2005, 28th August 2017 was a dream come true for the team pushing for the implementation of the ban for use of plastic bags. That ban can seldom be spoken of without the name of Professor Wakhungu being mentioned and of course celebrated. The place of politics in the country that is slightly over 50 years is not to be ignored!
While there is a lot of clamor for women’s representation in parliament via the one-third gender rule bill, there is still a remnant of the pioneer women who ventured into that space by daring to be bold. Grace Aketch Onyango really is the epitome of boldness and stoically carries the title of Iron Lady despite being a retiree from the political arena.
Grace now 91-years-old took on an all-male representation in Parliament in the 70s and broke the African cultural taboos that confined women to the kitchen by elbowing her way to national politics. At the time and as it is now in some parts of Kenya, it was unthinkable for women to stand before men, let alone lead them. But for Grace she is a woman of many firsts:
She was the first Kenyan woman mayor following her election in Kisumu in 1965
In 1969 she was the first woman to be elected Member of Parliament for Kisumu Town
She was also the first woman Secretary-General of Luo Union (East Africa)
As well as the first woman councilor of Kaloleni ward in Kisumu
But this collection cannot be closed without thinking of the young women making a difference in society. Africa’s first female Dreamliner captain, Irene Koki Mutungi,Chelagat Mutai made history by becoming the youngest Member of Parliament to date at the age of 24 beating other twelve contestants.
Elizabeth Marami who at 25, was the first woman marine pilot after five years of training at the prestigious marine training college in Alexandria Egypt, among others. There are many more emerging and making a difference in sports, business, academics, health, innovation, environment, economics and much more.
We can not talk about all these without considering land economics and in fact the very access to the land in terms of ownership.The place of empowerment that advises the theme for the 2019 International Women’s Day – Think Equal | Build Smart | Innovate – then points to the issue of land and ownership of the same by women. An excerpt from the The unfinished revolution: Voices from the global fight for women’s rights on JSTOR” courtesy of the Bristol University Press. Published in 2012 shows that the journey to ownership of property especially for women in marital relationships continues to be an uphill task.
It is not unusual to hear of news coverage of widows and their children thrown out by relatives once their husbands dies and with the conviction that the women have had no contribution whatsoever in the sourcing of the property. Kenyan women’s rights to own and inherit property are challenged, threatened and suppressed by customs, laws, and individuals, such as government officials.
Many leaders, both of the nation and individual households, believe women to be incompetent to manage land. This is juxtaposed by the fact that, in Africa, women constitute 70-90 percent of the agricultural labor force, meaning that they manage most of the lands already, but are made unable to own any.
Perhaps it is this landscape that has continued to encourage women to be strategic in their investments and move away from being dependent on their spouses for the future. While the ideal would be for the women to invest in the full knowledge of their husbands, many have chosen to make independent investments regardless of their marital status.
The challenges of in-laws, ancestral land issues, mistrust in marriages, and the issue of diminished enthusiasm by some spouses to work for the good of the family continue to see more women investing in real estate. The trend is set to rise in the future if the current ratio of 65% women investors versus 35% investors being men in the case of Optiven Limited is to be maintained.
Notwithstanding, we salute women for their resilience, forward looking and future planning agenda through investments, development and even better, building better societies through their decision. On this International Women’s Day, from all of us at Optiven Limited, we celebrate you knowing that together, we are on a journey of transformation for the individual, families, societies and the world. Happy International Women’s Day 2019.
The County Government of Kiambu has begun upgrading of roads in the Muoroto Area.
Infrastructure remains key in meeting the development needs of any community. Speaking shortly after the County Government of Kiambu begun upgrading the roads around Kamiti Location, George Wachiuri, the Optiven Group Chief Executive noted that this will open up the area to many more opportunities.
According to Wachiuri, the infrastructure in the area will further facilitate exposure to business engagement including sourcing of investments such as in real estate and other sectors. “There is need for county governments to hasten their input in facilitating infrastructure development at the grassroot level as this is key to attracting investors especially those in real estate,” Wachiuri said.
His sentiments come as the County Government of Kiambu continues to host a number of investors in the Muoroto area of the county. The Optiven Group has in the recent past been engaged in community empowerment in the area where residents have had a rare opportunity to meet with the company and understand the role of the group in the area.
The area has been synonymous with real estate investments including Amani Ridge, the Place of Peace which is a premier project under Optiven Group. The ongoing grading of Amani Road will specifically be of great benefit to the area and Kiambu as a whole, as it will enhance easier access to the area, facilitate transportation of goods and services and at the same time boost the economic activities.