By :Victor Ochieng’
Sir George Wachiuri is the founder and CEO of Optiven, which is one of the thriving Real Estate Companies.
In a heroic book titled Soaring like an Eagle, a production of GW Publishers and now available on Amazon, he shares his rags-to-riches story.
The touching tale steers clear on his humble birth and beginnings. He shares how he rose above the cruel clouds of poverty in Laburra Village — a pale place — sandwiched between Mt. Kenya and Abardares Ranges in Nyeri County.
He writes about how the mother brought him up when the grim reaper came at the crack of sunrise, and left him sad by plucking his dad from the glamourous garden of life.
Again, we read about his education at Chinga High School and University of Nairobi (School of Business).
He apprises us on how he started doing business after high school, and honed the mercantile skills while building his ken of knowledge in the university.
Then, we learn about how he met and tied the knot with Mary — the love of his life and a university sweetheart. Upon graduation, he secured employment that brought better lifestyle.
Then, he began building and colouring the nation at Uchumi Supermarket, Lutheran World Federation and World Vision. World Vision and United Nations for Children Fund
In an unfortunate twist of fate, when Sir George Wachiuri was still young, a puff udder bit him. This tropical Africa’s deadliest vipers sank its ferocious fangs into his thin skin. The poison was sucked from his body at the then Nyeri District Hospital. This had to happen expeditiously to save him from premature death. As they say, misfortunes never come singly; again, a rowdy rooster attacked him badly.
Through it all, the most painful and pensive experience was the death of his dad in 1978. It turned out that death of the man who sired him was not natural, but it was the hand of a hostile human being. Due to business rivalry, his business partners poisoned him in Mweiga Town. The man died at 40.
Sadly, after the departure of dad, mom had to shoulder all the parental roles. It was a hellish experience, for they struggled to make ends meet. Affording the three square meals became dreary and difficult: Only comparable to asking for blood donation from a mosquito. Or pressing a stone to produce water. Somehow, pinch of poverty caused pangs of pain.
Wonderfully, Sir George Wachiuri started to trace his true north by exploring the spiritual sphere of life. Just as Dr. Luke writes about Jesus of Nazareth, in Luke 2:52, George also grew in stature and wisdom and in favour with God and men.
Again, just as Samuel was close to Eli, George was close to the clever cleric at the Catholic Church. In fact, he nearly walked down the pious path of priesthood.
Still on the mysterious and miraculous dimension of life, he was fond of visiting River Honi. On that sacrosanct spot, he enjoyed spiritual silence and solitude. In that place of perfect and pristine peace, He prayed and established close camaraderie with God who lavishes His people with grace and goodness. When he matriculated into the University of Nairobi (School of Business), he gave his life to the Sinless Savior ― Christ — who cancels mistakes and misdeeds made by men.
Wistfully, he remembers, how he sat for KCPE twice due to poor performance in the first attempt that brought contempt. Eventually, he attained marvellous marks that made him secure the coveted chance at Chinga High School in Nyeri County. He passed KCSE with flying colours and matriculated into the University of Nairobi (School of Business): to pursue his passion — Business Administration.
Interestingly, as a Form Four leaver, he chose not to bask in idleness and indolence in the chest of the village as some lazy lads and crazy lasses do. Instead, he decided to begin to win in business. His success in business started when he traded in onions. He made money. He thrived because as he made more moolah, he shared it with Mama and God through tithe.
Consequently, Sir George met Madam Mary in the university, where they were members of the Christian Union.
Although, I was not there as they exchanged nuptial vows, as scribe I can describe it: they said I do because they felt they were done. In the distant past, in the seminal novel titled A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe, the father of African prose rose and said: I fall for you, you fall for me, and we call it a game.
In addition, Sir George Wachiuri thrived in business while studying at the University of Nairobi (School of Business). WAMU Holdings was the first company he started as a diligent student.
He made money with a small Yashika camera. He also started WAMU Laundry Services. Buni Laundry Services was an existing venture in town, but since they wanted a link in the university, Sir George Wachiuri decided to meet that demand and the rest became history.
Therefore, he gathered clothes from students. Buni, thus, became WAMU in the university. Selling magazines to comrades became his third business. He thrived to an extent that the Vice Chancellor conferred on him the honourable and inspiring title of the university’s most entrepreneurial student.
Moreover, he secured a job at the defunct Uchumi Supermarket as an accountant. As a form of moonlighting, he started a company called Beauty Pool Investments, where he bought raw materials and made shampoo. He in turn supplied beauty shops and saloons at Ngara. He also served with an NGO called Lutheran World Federation as Logistics and Procurement Supervisor Kakuma Refugees Camp. When he resigned at World Vision (Somalia), he collapsed a company called Dalex and focused on Optiven Limited — a Real Estate venture.
He has a riveting rehash: Quitting formal employment to build a business empire is a decision he will never forget about. He cannot regret about it. For that route has made him meet and greet business highflyers like his mentors such as Dr. Manu Chandaria and Vimal Shah. Their maiden office for Optiven Limited was at Nduruma Road down town, later Gilfillan Kenyatta Avenue Nairobi. Later, Mary convinced George that they move to the Barclays Plaza in the heart of Nairobi Town. When they moved to trendiest town, they have never thought small anymore.
Heretofore, they chose to go mega on every matter. When they sought land to develop, they went for big one.
Likewise, when they thought of securing loans for investment, they went for colossal amount to do big projects. Although, at some point times became tough. The business was no longer a going concern. They found themselves wallowing in the discouraging zone of doldrums. This prompted Sir George Wachiuri to get back to formal employment. He applied and secured employment by Daystar University as a part-time lecturer.
Meanwhile, the wife was still piecing together the puzzles at Optiven Limited. They chose not to cry, but try. As perpetual optimists, they believed they could build back better. For Dr. John C. Maxwell writes in his heroic book titled Failing Forward that three steps forward, and two steps backward, is equal to one-step forward. Successful people behave like the soccer ball. When they hit the wall, they bounce back.
Therefore, through fortunate twist of fate, Optiven Limited turned all scars to stars, and obstacles to miracles. Lending credence to the wise words of Henry Ford, “Obstacles are those frightful things we see when we keep our eyes from our goals.” A company that could only employ husband and wife now offers employment to over 500 people and over 1000 casuals.
Through altruistic and philanthropic programmes, they are also a source of hope and help to plenty of people. As they grow and glow, they no longer struggle and grapple to meet bills like rent. They now distribute wealth through Optiven Foundation and are among top 100 biggest taxpayers in Kenya. They also own Optiven Global Centre in the high-end Karen Estate in Nairobi. The vision bearers of Optiven Limited — George is living a modest life but still very humble and reachable. He does mentorship to thousands of people through George Wachiuri School of Mentorship. He is also an author of two more books that obey wise words of Benjamin Franklin, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”
The reviewer is an avid reader, author and public speaker.