George Optiven sounds more like a name of an Irish shepherd doing sheep shearing in the Andes or parts of Scotland. A tad confusing for a Kenyan man who seldom has grown in the European nations but as much as can be said, is a Kenyan to the core.
His face is easily recognizable albeit he talks to everyone who comes his way in a manner akin to having known them for ages. Who is this man? George Wachiuri wears a myriad hats. As a spouse, he is married to Mary Wacuka , as a father he is called so by his three children. Wachiuri is also a lecturer, a motivational speaker, a philanthropist, and an author. Where the latter is concerned, he is soon launching his third book titled “After the Plunge”.
But this does not open up the most defined character of who Wachiuri is. Famous for for his sharp entrepreneurial skills , Wachiuri is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Optiven Limited – Kenya’s leading real estate company with over 24 years in business.
Growing up Wachiuri speaks fondly about his earlier years in Labura, a village in Nyeri county. Growing up without his father after he passed on while he was young, Wachiuri has known poverty in an all round manner. In his early years, he had to work with his siblings to make ends meet and at the same time, support his mother from an early age.
Influenced early by his mother, Wachiuri and his siblings would accompany their mother to their well-up neighbors to do manual work on their farms in order to provide their basic needs. His story is ably written in his autobiography Soaring Like an Eagle where he gives a perspective of the effects of the biting poverty in his homestead and the hustles he had to do to ensure survival.
As an average student while in primary school, Wachiuri did not perform well as he had expected in his primary school exam and with that, his aspiration to priesthood which was tied to getting good grades did not become a reality. So, he re-sat the exams the following year and performed exemplary well.
However, he changed his mind when he got an admission letter to join high school at Chinga Boys. It was after he completed his high school education that his entrepreneurial journey began. Instead of sitting idly at home waiting to join the university, Wachiuri decided to spend the two years offering his skills in agriculture. Later he was admitted at the University of Nairobi and his main goal at the time was to learn.
Little did he know that his entrepreneurial spirit would rise once again. This time around, he started a magazine library. He discovered students enjoyed reading magazines. So, he made a collection of old magazines that he would lend for one bob each. He also offered dry cleaning services to his fellow students as well as photography Wachiuri acquired a Yashica camera and used it to take photos of fellow students.
This also earned him an extra income. Before long, the University of Nairobi (UoN) management, where he was studying at the moment, noticed his efforts and awarded him the 1997 Entrepreneur of the Year. Although Wachiuri had several job opportunities in the corporate world, he did not stay for long.
Perhaps this was because he was meant to be an employer and not an employee. At one point, he got a procurement and logistics supervisor’s job after developing a system that would track money usage. He also got an accounting job that did not last for long. After trying several jobs, Wachiuri decided to start doing his own business.
Together with his brother, they started Beauty Pool Investments which made and sold shampoos. Later on, he also decided to test the real estate business which was doing well at the moment. As fate would have it, none of the businesses picked well and he story of failure remains an inspiration to entrepreneurs as well as readers of his second book titled “Unleash Your full potential”. For the record he failed 15 times https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/bd/corporate/enterprise/-i-failed-15-times-before-i-built-my-sh1bn-real-estate-firm–2079462
Fast-forward to a year later, he got an offer from a landowner who was selling his land for quick money. Although he did not have money to buy it, he brainstormed and managed to deposit half a million shillings equivalent. This marked the birth of Optiven Limited as we know it today.
Over the years, Optiven Limited has become one of the most sought-after property and real estate companies in Kenya. It has won numerous awards in Kenya and beyond. Wachiuri attributes its success to his desire to sell authentic and genuine property, by adapting values that are transformative while at the same time offering solutions to investors.
And there is no stopping for this champion of social economic transformation because Optiven is soaring to heights never before scaled and in this space, it is leaving indelible marks and inspiring possibilities beyond the ordinary.