A group of at least 300 Kenyans currently living in the United States of America has teamed up to embark on a multi-million housing project in Kitisuru Estate, Nairobi.
Christened Kitisuru Amani Gardens, the housing project is located slightly off Limuru Road, with the adjacent suburbs comprising of Runda, Rosslyn, and Muthaiga.
"A project like this is a testimony that you can have Kenyans living abroad investing effectively and getting the project done to the standards they know back in America where they live," one of the lead architects involved in the project revealed during an interview with Kenyan journalist Alex Chamwada.
The architect was referencing the age-old dilemma Kenyans abroad face when they are looking to invest back home through relatives and friends.An artistic impression of a living room at the Kitisuru Amani Gardens housing project.File
According to testimonies given by thousands of Kenyans working abroad, billions of shillings have gone down the drain as a result of investing via shady relatives who more often than not end up using non-professionals, in a bid to save some money for themselves.
This is a recipe for disaster especially in Kenya real estate industry where professionals are recommended for any viable investment.
"We have had fake investors coming to us and they have taken our money, but they don't do as they promise. For example, they promise us good land but when we travel back home we find no land," Phyllis, a member of the diaspora unit Dubbed JRN Investment Group, detailed,
"We created the investment group specifically to come and develop ourselves, We are not a church, social or political unit. We are laser-focused on investment," Wilson Kimani, a top official in the group, added.
Kimani went to reveal that they registered the group 5 years ago when 100% of the members lived and worked in the US.
However, the group has grown since then with over 300 members coming from all over the world who can trace their roots to Kenya.
The group's housing project in Kenya will have a total of 87 units of 2 and 3-bedroom apartments spread out in 3 blocks (A.B and C). Notably, the development is 100% funded by the group members.An artistic impression of the Kitisuru Amani Gardens housing project.YouTube
According to the project developer, Kitisuru Amani Gardens will be complete by the end of 2021, having broken ground in the second half of 2019.
Most Kenyans living abroad no longer trust their relatives back home, of course, many being cases of once bitten, twice shy.
Take the story of Arnold (a Kenyan working and living in the USA) that went viral in 2017.
“I sent enough money for the purchase of a piece of land in Juja and within no time, construction work for rental apartments started, or so I thought,
“I never imagined the relative could be taking me for a ride. I gave him my all and financed the construction for six months. When I started raising some questions and he could not answer them. Shock on me when I landed back in Kenya and there was nothing on the ground, not even the piece of land,” he narrated.
His story is similar to thousands more, leading to a general sense of skepticism when it comes to Kenyans in diaspora investing back home through relatives or close friends.
Over the years, Kenya has continued to record more remittances from its citizens working or living in different parts of the world.
This is despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy, which has cut similar inflows from other countries such as South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, and Oman.
In 2020, North America accounted for the largest bulk of remittances to Kenya, followed by Europe while the rest of the world combined accounts for the rest, at about 28%.
Available figures put total diaspora remittances to Kenya in 2019 at Ksh205 billion, compared with Ksh204 billion the previous year.
Cash inflow from citizens working abroad is now Kenya’s leading source of forex, ahead of tourism and agricultural exports such as tea, coffee, and horticulture.
Figures provided by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) are considered as estimates due to the fact that remittances through other unofficial channels are usually not captured, meaning that dollar inflows in Kenya could be higher than what CBK reports.
According to latest CBK data, Kenyans from around the world remitted Ksh26.3 billion in October 2020 alone, with June 2020, recording the highest amount of diaspora remittance at Ksh28.8 billion.
The population of Kenyans in the diaspora is estimated at three million and is generally considered to be a well-educated group, living mainly in Europe and the US.A file image of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) building in Nairobi.Simon KiraguKenyans.co.kescam
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