As our economy changes, young entrepreneurs are emerging as leaders of industries, bringing significant fresh ideas to the market place and creating employment opportunities for many people.
Derrick Ngeno and Joshua Mbugua founded Tujenge Homes in 2016, a firm that specializes in selling properties and constructing affordable homes for Kenyans.
“We conducted research and established a huge gap in the market. No one was offering affordable properties and housing solutions for Kenyans yet there was immense need for such solutions. That informed the formation of Tujenge Homes,” says Joshua during an interview with StartUp Magazine at their premises at Spur Mall in Ruiru.
Contrary to the popular belief that you need a lot of capital to start a real estate firm, we founded Tujenge Homes with a capital of Kshs 200,000, adds the executive.
Starting off, they embarked on disruptive mechanisms to woo buyers with a range of projects across the country.
“We went to Malindi and bought a parcel of land. At the time everyone in the industry was selling an eighth of an acre. We wanted to do it differently, but with value addition and settled on selling quarter of an acre plots. The move was not to make any major profit but to sell valuable land to our clients and create a good reputation. We sold it at Kshs 300,000, a first in the industry,” explains Derrick.
The project sold out within two weeks.
Besides affordability, the firm has cultivated a culture of trust.
“When you buy a property from us, our process is transparent,” notes Derrick, adding that, “We are a tech driven company and run everything on a robust digital system. Within our website, there is an option where a client can create a profile and monitor his property and payment plans.”
The process is simple, secure and transparent, he says.
A customer can make any request on the web platform. For instance if you want a house to be constructed, fenced or any other additional options, there is a provision for that. The system will then calculate the resulting cost and the orders will be executed once you make a payment. The property will then be uploaded for your review. Refunds can also be initiated via the platform in a seamless order.
This culture of trust, transparency and digital capability has enabled the firm to attract interests from Kenyans in the Diaspora. “We serve clients from US, UK, Australia and Dubai among other places,” says Joshua.
Tujenge Homes has further adopted the use of latest and affordable technology in the construction of houses. “We use pre-cast panel technology to construct a house in less than a month. It is cheaper than conventional construction stones. The government has even recommended the use of the technology in its housing plans for Kenyans,” explains the executive.
The duo explains that property will always appreciate in value. “Real Estate is the only investment that you are assured appreciation of value over time.”
“This increase in value of properties over time has been fueled by infrastructural development by the national and county government,” says Joshua who met his colleague while in high school.
“We were the pioneering lot of microprocessor technology and instrumentation degree at the University of Nairobi in 2009,” adds Derrick.
The entrepreneurial bugs bite them while they were in campus with the formation of their first company, Naviga Business Solutions.
They started learning PHP, Java and other programming languages on their own while studying. With such knowledge they were able to develop websites and web applications and selling computer software to clients.
With time, their work attracted interest from a Tanzanian Billionaire who owns Cloud Media.
“He recruited us and left campus to work in Tanzania. The opportunity really opened our eyes and we realized we can actually survive as entrepreneurs,” adds Derrick.
They lived in Tanzania for two years while growing their business in leaps and bounds.
Soon, they started sourcing for government and corporate tenders and creating networks.
“We worked with KCB, Red Cross Africa, Gakuyo Real Estate, Urithi Housing Co-operative, Hass Consult, Dinara Developers, Angaza Real Estate and County governments among others.”
Their impeccable work soon attracted interests from politicians like Moses Kuria and Ferdinand Waititu, whom informed their venture into political consultancy.
“In 2017 we focused on designing digital campaign strategies for the Jubilee government. We were the brains behind Mbele Iko Sawa initiative which greatly propelled President Uhuru Kenyatta as a favourable candidate for his re-election. We also worked with the County government of Kiambu. Often, the Jubilee presidential secretariat would consult us on social media strategies. So we influenced a lot of political narratives,” explains Joshua.
After the presidential campaigns, they were offered employment opportunities by the government but declined. “We have always lived by the mantra that we will never be employed. This is because we realized that with our entrepreneurial spirit, we are better off running initiatives that would create employment opportunities for people and impact lives in a major way. That informed our focus on Tujenge Homes,” says Derrick.
Tujenge Homes is planning to build affordable homes by the beach side in Malindi.
“Tech is disrupting everything from transport to hospitality. With our holiday homes, you will have the opportunity to earn extra income by listing it on Airbnb,” explains Derrick.
Plans are also underway to establish the first Eco-Village in Africa where everything will be powered by green energy. “Besides featuring eco friendly buildings, the project will also have preferential drainage systems with recycled water. The project will look to save costs of water and energy by over 80 per cent. We are proud to mention that it has attracted interests from Samsung, KCB Capital and Honda among others.”
Going forward, the firm is also in talks with Africa Diaspora Fund to develop affordable houses across Africa.