By Prudence Minayo
Village Market is arguably the best shopping complex and hangout spot in Gigiri. It first started out as a ten-shop establishment and has today grown to accommodate over 150 stores comprising of a fitness center, kids play area, Maasai market, and an outdoor food court among other businesses. The shopping center has been the recipient of various recognitions including International Council of Shopping Centers Design Award. This magnificent building was built by Hamed and Mehraz.
Here is their story as told by WoK.
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Mr. Hamed Ehsani’s father was a wealthy businessman who dealt in Industrial chemicals. He was born in Iran but attended University in the United States. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in International Business from University of San Francisco, USA, and a Master of Business Administration (Marketing) from Iran Center for Management Studies.
Coming to Kenya
Following the Iranian revolution in 1979, people who practiced the Bahai faith were persecuted by the then new government. These group of people advocated for things like women rights, and therefore, were considered too pro Western. They were hunted down and forced to flee their homes with their wealth being seized by the state.
They came to Kenya in 1981 and planned to stay for only a few weeks. Their goal was to stay long enough to get visas to Australia. During their time in Kenya, they stayed with Mehraz who had been in the country for a while, and taught Architecture at the University of Nairobi.
Their visas kept on delaying and they fell in love with the country and ended up extending their stay in Kenya. This was how they found themselves getting into business in Kenya. Hamed became the Managing Director of Greenhill Investments Limited. The idea to start Village Market was born when Hamed and his brothers visited Limuru and were on their way back home. His brother noticed there was no shopping center in Gigiri. This was how they set out to start Village Market. They approached a bank and secured a Sh69 million loan. They started with ten shops which were very difficult to rent out in the beginning since people thought it was too far from the city.
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Hamed told amusementlogic.com of the birthing of VM:
“In 1992, as my brother Mehraz and I drove to a golf course through Gigiri, we got the idea of constructing a shopping and recreation facility in the area which was largely under a coffee plantation. Our vision was to provide a shopping and recreation experience for residents, diplomats, expatriates and tourists who lived in the newly zoned Diplomatic District”, he told the online publication.
Construction commenced in 1992.
Hamed Ehsani is a father of three boys. Hooman Ehsani and his brothers Shamim and Soha basically grew up in construction sites as they observed their father, Ahmed and uncle Mehraz in action. They learnt a lot of things through watching them.
Hooman and Soha took after their father and uncle. After successfully pursuing their education in Boston, United States, they returned to Kenya and dived into the architectural world.
They established a collection of luxury, mixed unit residence called Palm Valley. The 20-acre development is located in Kiambu and borders Runda. The Sh3 billion project scooped the International Property Award for the Best International Residential Development at the 2014-15 award ceremony in Dubai. This is one of the most prestigious property awards globally.
Their uncle Mehraz designed one of Nairobi’s famous five star hotels, Tribe. The hotel is known for its rich African style art and the fact that it has hosted some world famous celebrities, such as, Angelina Jolie.
His architectural experience does not end with Village Market and Tribe. In 2014, the internet was in a flurry thanks to the luxurious house dubbed House No.12 Magnolia Hills. The house was showcased in the market and was initially valued at Sh600 million. The opulent structure houses a well equipped gym, an interior and exterior jacuzzi, six en-suite bedrooms among other things. The architect behind the modern structure is Mehraz Ehsani.
With such brilliant designs and properties, the family has put Kenya on the world map. Hamed believes it is not about making money but having an impact in people’s lives.
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