In his early thirties, Reuben Kimani is the co-founder and CEO Username Investment Limited, a local land buying and selling company.
Reuben is a professional engineer having graduated with first class honours in computer science from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
He also has a strong background in Telecommunication and IT. The engineer turned entrepreneur has previously worked for corporates like Safaricom and KRA.
How would you describe your childhood?
I had what many would refer to as a typical childhood-We didn’t have much but thankfully, we didn’t lack. Growing up, I was passionate about education as I didn’t want a life in the village, so I ensured that I did exceptionally both at secondary and University levels.
As an accomplished engineer and ICT professional, what motivated you to join the real estate industry?
In 2012, I noticed that land was only affordable to those who were either earning a high income or well advanced in age. I wished to change that culture and I thought, ‘how about I make land accessible to young people with low salaries’? I teamed up with two other great minds to provide properties ranging from Sh 100,000- Sh 500,000 with flexible payment plans of up to 12 months.
What was your first entrepreneurship endeavour?
I was a cobbler both in primary and secondary schools.
You left a well-paying job in the corporate world. Do you look back and think how crazy that was or does it give you pride?
Somehow, I knew that I was cut for the business world but it was a crazy transit. My earnings dropped from a six-figure salary to a mere Sh 25,000! However, looking at the number of satisfied customers we have served, the 40 employees we have directly employed – and over 500 indirectly, seeing those young people who earn less than Sh 50,000 being able to buy land,that gives me immense pride.
In a span of three years, you have transformed Username Investments Ltd from just a startup to an established property company. What has been your secret?
I have had great support from family, business partners, stakeholders and clients. But, it has also been a journey of determination and persistence, thinking big and scaling up, being open-minded, developing a culture of personal delivery, delivering beyond customers’ expectations and learning from customers’ feedback. Having a great team has continuously boosted the growth of the company.
Looking back, is there anything that you wish you did differently?
Quite a number. I would pursue real estate related course instead of focusing on a course that I believed would give me a good job and money. As a student, I would make proper use of the money offered by HELB and be more open minded – ready to pursue interests outside my career path.
As an entrepreneur, have you failed and if yes, what lessons did you learn?
We have had quite a number of setbacks along the way. At one time, we hadn’t conducted extensive due diligence on a property we wished to acquire and we ended up losing Sh 5,000,000 we had paid as the deposit. The business almost went under! We now involve lawyers and research extensively before entering into any agreement. I opine that failure is the greatest source of learning. If we never failed, we would never have known the best way to run Username Investment Ltd.
What is the biggest revelation you have learnt in your journey as an entrepreneur?
Change of belief system- entrepreneurship has taught me that life is not all about making money to settle monthly bills. Also, the lesser the risk, the lower the returns. I have learnt to take bigger projects but also make calculated risks.
Which CEO do you admire greatly?
I have admiration for different business leaders but James Mwangi CEO of Equity Bank and Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group top the list.
How do you compare your 20’s and 30’s?
In my early 20’s, my linear path was to find a good job, get a good house and a car. While at this age, I failed in many interviews because with my first class honours, I didn’t see the need to carry out any background research on the hiring company. Now in my early 30’s, I have already changed the mindset and I am focusing on leaving a positive impact on the current and succeeding generations.
Are young people buying land? How do you entice them to buy?
You will be surprised that most of our clients are indeed young people. We focus on affordability and flexible payment options, innovation, title delivery, strategic locations and value additions. Since inception in 2013, we have issued over 5,000 title deeds.
Share a few lessons you’ve picked along the way about money.
One of the greatest lessons that I have learnt is that without a budget, you’ll end up a free –spender. As such, all monthly income I receive is budgeted for and directed to value-adding opportunities. I have also learnt that it is more beneficial to save money in an investment scheme where it earns you some profits. Lastly, life is not all about money. If it is your only motivation, disappointments await.
What is the best advice you’ve ever heard?
Find out what works for you and focus your efforts there.
Do you have some hidden talents?
I could be an artist in the making-I write different handwritings and also enjoy calligraphy. Also, to some extent, I think of myself as a designer- I designed our company’s logo as it is. With some training, I can dance too.
I work out five times a week, read different genres of books and occasionally watch movies.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.