From Campus Laundryman to Running Multi-Billion Real Estate Company [VIDEO]

  • Real Estate guru George Wachiuri is the founder and CEO of Optiven Group, a real estate firm with a portfolio that spans from Kenya all the way to the USA.

    Speaking to K24 TV on September 19, 2018, the accomplished CEO narrated the not-so-rosy beginnings that plunged him into a life of hardship before he struck gold in real estate.

    "I was born into a poor family and lost my father when I was very young. My mother was a peasant farmer back in Nyeri and we were eight of us, so we were brought up in plenty of difficulties. We had to till the land to eke a living," he intimated.

    These situations persisted all through his schooling where he narrated that he would spend half his time in school and half his time at home due to the lack of fees - a situation that he pondered over a lot with the future looking quite bleak. 

    George Wachiuri speaks on K24 Alfajiri on September 18, 2019.

    "In university, I was washing people's clothes and taking photographs to get fees. I was a village boy, so when I went to Kabete campus where I saw very clean people. For me, I was a boy from the village and under the weather. When I saw these clean people, I asked myself what I could do for them so that I could raise my school fees?"

    He narrated that he then acquired a camera with which he would take photos during Christian Union (CU) outings and sell them for Ksh10. He then converted his room into a small library complete with magazines where the students would pay Ksh1 to read a magazine.

    To top up his earnings from photography, he washed and ironed people's clothes all in an attempt to raise fees.

    After campus, he recalled how he hand-wrote three hundred application letters which he dropped in various offices alongside a group of his friends, landing him four interviews and his first job.

    He lost that first job not long after but landed another as an accountant owing to his background in commerce, before landing a job in Kakuma, then on to British charity World Vision, and Unicef, before launching Optiven Group in 2013.

    Before Optiven, he timated that he had attempted many more businesses including supplying stationery and water, most of which ended up failing.

    "I remember there was this time I was doing safari business and I could not pay the loan facilities. The bank came and repossessed all my cars. I was in the office when I was called and told that the auctioneers had thrown the tourists out," he recounted.

    Optiven CEO George Wachiuri in his offices.

    While he closed the business, he carried the lessons over to his multi-billion real estate venture that is making waves in the industry.

    Through the crippling blunders that saw him lose Ksh5 million and return to where he had started off, his firm has spread wings all the way to Kansas, USA, where he targets over 100,000 Kenyans in the diaspora with affordable housing programs.

    Between 2014 and 2019, the company bagged more than 16 awards in various fields, while he as a CEO has earned nine of them, including the Mashujaa Awards in the USA and the Africa Business Personality Award in 2017.