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HomebioHow Billionaire George Wachiuri Established Optiven Limited From Scratch

How Billionaire George Wachiuri Established Optiven Limited From Scratch

Optiven Limited has grown over the years to become a market leader in real estate. With projects and assets ranging in the billions, the company has established a name for itself. 

However, this growth did not come by luck. It was through the grit and resilience of George Wachiuri who beat all odds to be the success story he is today. He has also authored several books including; Soaring Like An Eagle, and Unleash Your Full Potential: How to Start Small and Build an Empire. In this segment, we’ll take a detour and see how Wachiuri became the Billionaire he is today.

Humble Beginnings.

George Wachiuri was born in a family of eight in Kieni, Nyeri County. His father died in 1978 leaving him and his siblings with their mother who was not educated. George recounts the resilience of his mother to raise them but it was not easy due to lack of a steady income. Getting twenty shillings to pay for school fees was difficult for his mother. In one instance, they spent up to five days without food due to a famine that hit Kieni. 

George had no mentor to guide him or inspire him. Life was not easy. He aspired to complete school and look for a cow herding job to earn at least twenty shillings a day. To get school fees, he and his siblings would wake up early in the morning before going to school and till other people’s land only to earn five shillings. That same five shillings would also be used to buy food.

A Spark of Inspiration.  

One time while still in primary school, George Wachiuri saw his brother pass his KCPE exams and for the first time, his brother was bought a pair of black trousers. Immediately he thought to himself, “This means, if you pass your exams, you get good clothes.” This inspired him and he began studying very hard. Before, he was always coming last in class, but this new motivation birthed his perseverance. When the exams later came out, George had passed his exams being top in his class. 

Struggles in Secondary Education.

Later, George received a calling letter to Kagumo High School but he didn’t like the choice. Therefore, he changed schools and joined Chinga Boys High in Nyeri. Raising the fees of about Kshs. 3,080 was still a challenge and as a result, Wachiuri’s mother had to do a fundraiser. George says it is by God’s grace that he went through the four years because it took Harambees and his mother’s resilience in doing manual farm work just to raise the fees.  

University Choice Dilemma.

With George having no mentor, the only profession he was aware of was being a primary school teacher like his late father. When the university forms came, before filling his form, he decided to check on his rich friend’s course choice. To his surprise, he saw BCOM (Bachelors of Commerce) on his friend’s form and decided to fill up his own the same way. After passing his exams, he was admitted to Nairobi University, Lower Kabete Campus. 

First Time in the City of Nairobi. 

Landing in the city of Nairobi was one of the things that amazed George. It was his first time in Nairobi and after seeing the clean Nairobi people, he said to himself, what can I do for these people and earn something. An idea clicked, “let me wash their clothes”, and he began washing their clothes. Later, since he was going for Christian missions, he thought of buying a camera to capture people’s special moments. This idea brought him lots of money. He then transformed his room into a library, where people could come and read magazines at a fee. Business was good, and to revamp his “group of businesses” he opened up a kinyozi. George recounts that as he was finishing up his studies, a Professor known as Gichaga declared him as the most entrepreneurial student ever and as result he received a trophy. 

First Smile After Toiling Hard.

As he was finishing up his campus studies, there was a report that in Kenya jobs were scarce and therefore, George decided with his four friends to go and start dropping applications in companies. They crafted about three hundred applications and began dropping them across the city. Fortunately, he got his first job in Uchumi as an accountant. He then later went on to work for Lutheran World Federation in Kakuma, World Vision Somalia, and United Nations in Sudan.

Tears and Joy in Real Estate.

While employed, George also did some side hustles with his brother. When he resigned from his employment, he was happy and overjoyed to now start his business. He chose real estate and the first transaction he made, he was swindled Kshs. 5 million which was all his life savings. He also tried other fifteen businesses but they all failed. After the ordeal, George says life became very hard and even getting money for transport was hard. His friend’s also disappeared. He later thought of applying for jobs but no one was willing to employ him.

One time, George says he told God that if He gives him money again, he would serve Him, serve the community, pay his tithe, and be humble. This was one of his lowest moments in life. George says God later told him to go back to real estate. He began borrowing money to kick start his real estate business. He later got links to meet Equity Bank Boss James Mwangi whom he says changed the course of his business. 

After the meeting, he then made a proposal of about Kshs. 40 million and presented it to the bank. Luckily he got the money. From the year 2009, Optiven began spreading its roots in the Kenyan real estate market. Now the business is worth billions and is changing the lives of many through scholarships, and other avenues. From his famous quotes, “life is not about money. Money is a very small goal. Life is all about touching people’s hearts.”