Walking Tall: Meet the Man Spearheading the Rapid Growth of Username Investment Company in Kenya
“In the earlier years, we faced a setback when a property we had acquired turned out to be fraudulent. This led to an instant loss of Shs. 5 million that we had paid as a deposit. This was all the money we had at that time and the business almost went down. ”
Reuben Kimani, the chief executive officer of Username Investment, does not shy away from speaking with pride about his achievements in Kenya's real estate industry. Having been interviewed by almost all major media houses, his input in the field cannot go unnoticed.
As the CEO of a leading real estate and development company, the former shoemaker notes that his company intends to provide the current and upcoming generations with a place to call home.
He prides himself in helping Kenyans actualize their dream of owning a home by offering affordable, strategic, and value-added properties with prices as low as Ksh199,000.
Mr. Kimani is a go-getter and as focused as it gets and he has a number of awards to show for it. Among them are African Business Personality, Realtor Founder of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year among others.
(Username Investment CEO Reuben Kimani after being crowned the Realtor Founder of the Year. Photo / Courtesy)
Entering its 8th year, Username has been able to provide homes to over 1,000 families with projected revenues of more than Ksh200 million.
Mr. Kimani admits that over his years that built up to where he is now; there have been heaps of useful lessons for players in the real estate industry and the everyday individual that he so graciously shares during his past interview with the Daily Nation.
African Real Estate Blog Post broke down the lessons to cover the following:
The millionaire CEO stated that his greatest money mistake was not to invest in properties that are currently being valued for millions.
“In 2008 when I left college, some prime properties along Thika Road were being sold for as low as Shs. 25,000 for an eighth of an acre. The current value for the same property stands at Shs. 5 million. I ought to have invested in these plots from the income I made on the side and the extras from HELB.”
His money lesson is everyone should always budget for each coin they make. "Just like power, money abhors a vacuum," he said.
“You must read widely. Invest in knowledge and be on top of breaking opportunities to avoid losing on investment chances that can turn you into a millionaire.
Mr. Kimani advised that people should save their monies in SACCOs or an investment scheme where it will keep growing. One of the schemes being properties. He noted that before he got financial literacy, he would save his monies in the bank where it was readily available allowing him to easily access the cash, making “useless purchases.”
“I later got some financial tips and joined a Sacco at my former workplace that gave out handsome dividends. The amount I saved would later become a key source of capital when we started Username.”
On handling loss:
The CEO noted that you have to master how to pick yourself up hastily after any kind of business loss for an entrepreneur. Sharing his experience, Mr. Kimani stated: “In the earlier years, we faced a setback when a property we had acquired turned out to be fraudulent. This led to an instant loss of Shs. 5 million that we had paid as a deposit. This was all the money we had at that time and the business almost went down.”
In addition to that, he mentioned that it is wise to always do due diligence before acquiring any property.
“Always learn the core areas that might bring down your business and have alternative mitigation plans. Never give up on your end goal because people and resources exist to take you there if you're determined and persistent enough to look for them,” he affirmed.
On hard work and persistence to a goal:
“We started Username as three directors and one employee in a small, one-room office in the CBD. Today, we've grown to a staff of over 35 employees and indirectly employed more than 500. Our first Username project was a 42-plot property in Konza which we bought with monies pulled from savings and an unsecured loan of Shs. 1.8 million. Today, at Username, we have grown to manage projects that can provide homes to 1,000 families with projected revenues of more than Sh. 200 million,” he told.
On life lessons:
Live deliberately if you want to make it. Don't take the fast food-instant, coffee-instant riches direction. Be self-aware and do things that improve your life daily.
Fail faster, learn faster, and think big from the word go. “We wasted 3 years from 2013 to 2015 implementing relatively small projects. From what I know now, we would have done more.”
-Edited by Skeeter Imisa