From Homeless at 40 to Owning NIBS College [VIDEO]

  • Kenya's First Lady Margaret Kenyatta (Left) and Lizzie Wanyoike pictured during the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards on December 5, 2018.
    Kenya's First Lady Margaret Kenyatta (Left) and Lizzie Wanyoike pictured during the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards on December 5, 2018.
    PSCU
  • Lizzie Wanyoike is a woman like no other. Arguably a living and breathing testament to just how far perseverance can take you.

    She describes herself as a mother, teacher, businesswoman, philanthropist and entrepreneur, in that specific order. 

    Lizzie, as she likes to call herself, is the founder and CEO of the Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBS). She is also the owner of the luxurious Emory Hotel located along Kandara Road, off Gichugu Road in Kileleshwa, Nairobi.

    Her illustrious career has seen her rub shoulders with the who is who in society including First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

    NIBS College Founder and CEO Lizzie Wanyoike speaking during an interview.
    NIBS College Founder and CEO Lizzie Wanyoike speaking during an interview.
    YouTube

    However, unknown to most, by the time she was turning 40, she was practically homeless and living at a Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) hostel, after separating with her husband.

    Born in the 1950s, at a time when the exact birth date was stranger than fiction, hers is a journey riddled with seemingly insurmountable odds.

    She describes her primary education at Gathuki-ini Primary School, in Wathenge, Muranga County as more of a concentration camp, established by the Mzungu to control Kenyans at the time.

    However, her dream of becoming a teacher started to materialize when her parents enrolled her at a teachers' training college in Nakuru. As fate would have it, it was while in Nakuru that a group of Canadians offered her the chance to study business education.

    Armed with her diploma, she then joined Kenyatta University where she graduated with a Diploma in Education.

    "You may not get into your dream the first time around but keep on dreaming. Don't give it up. Get whatever comes your way because that could actually be the path that leads to your dreams," she advised.

    NIBS College Founder and CEO Lizzie Wanyoike pictured in her office.
    NIBS College Founder and CEO Lizzie Wanyoike pictured in her office.
    File

    She got married soon after and in 1972, she embarked on her life-long dream as a secondary school teacher at State House Girls' School in Nairobi. She used to earn a monthly salary of Ksh 961.

    However, three years later, she was convinced that her true calling was to start a school of her own.

    This is how she ended up running Temple College of Secretarial Studies in Nairobi alongside her husband and a few partners.

    Ever the smart one, during this period, the teacher built up her savings and invested in land. By the year 2000, she had managed to raised Ksh6 million in savings, which helped her secure a Ksh4 milllion loan at a local bank.

    Armed with all her experience and never-say-die attitude, Lizzie established NIBS. She started out with 25 students and two teachers.

    The rest, as they say, is history. Currently, the institution has a student population of over 6,000 and staff numbering over 250, on four campuses including Ongata Rongai, Thika Town, Nairobi Central Business District and Ruiru-Kimbo, along Thika Highway

    Watch one of Lizzie's interviews below: