With Caritas microfinance bank, he believes he can build his dream, and a future
By Jeff Korir
When Henry Kariuki inherited a few rental houses from his father, he didn’t think much about it. After all, the houses were one-roomed temporary structures made of iron sheets. In the sprawling Kawangware estate, Kariuki’s estate, made of 60 ‘Mabati’ houses stood out like a sore thumb amidst rows of modern houses.
The populous area is home to thousands of dmall scale traders who make the bulk of the population. While the demand for housing is high in the area, most people were moving to modern houses. This meant that Kariuki had to lower his rent to attract tenants. His rental income was so meagre that it barely met his needs. Stuck with little income and no means of developing his estate, he set out to seek financial help from banks. In 2010, a local bank helped him convert the Mabati houses into permanent structures.
That marked the start of his successful journey as a real estate developer. With the high demand for modern houses, it didn’t take him long to realize that he was literally sitting on a gold mine.
He wanted to develop his entire estate by building permanent houses. However, most financial institutions could only support him with small loans which barely made a difference.
When Caritas Microfinance bank opened a branch in Kawangware, Kariuki was among the first customers to visit the branch.
“As a Catholic faithful, I identified with them and believed in their leadership,” he says.
Last year, he joined the microlender and together with his wife,he opened a joint account. From there, he applied for a loan of Kes3mn which helped him to build 25 permanent houses.
“They received me well. From the day I opened an account to the time I applied for the first loan, they walked with me, advised me, connected me to valuers and lawyers and made sure I was on the road to realizing my dream.”
Having been financed by mainstream lenders, he says that Caritas microfinance bank stood out because they are caring. “The branch manager is always available. He came to my estate to evaluate the viability of my new project and said that the bank will walk with me,” he says.
Asked how he manages to repay the loans on time, he says that he makes sacrifices on his lifestyle to keep up with the repayments. He manages the rentals as his wife is engaged in other businesses. He’s working on his current project that will see him build ten more permanent houses. So far, 20 of his houses are fully occupied while five are under construction.
With a caring financial partner , he says he won’t stop dreaming.
“The demand for houses is huge and people want quality ones. Even when I’m done with this project, I’m thinking of building storied houses to serve the residents as I grow my income.”