Like most of his peers in the 1980s, when David Gakuyo completed his O levels, he left his village, Munyu in Thika in search of a job. “I believed that I could find my fortunes far off the village,” he says. So with only bus fare and a few clothes, he left home for Mombasa in 1985.When he got there, his expectations were shattered and he did not get any job for months. “I stayed with a relative and I started getting uneasy and agitated. I didn’t want to be a burden,” says Gakuyo, 46.
“I knew I didn’t want to roast maize the rest of my life, but the saying ‘journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’ kept me going,” he says. Along the way, he picked up the habit of chewing miraa to ‘keep the courage’ especially in the searing sun of the coastal city.However, his business didn’t pick up as he expected and with options running out, he returned to the village. Unknown to him, the village was his platform to business breakthrough.At first, he worked in his father’s farm. In 1990, his father introduced him to a survey firm, which by then was known as Mutta Services where he was employed as a chairman.
Chain survey is the simplest method of surveying. In chain surveying only measurements are taken in the field, and the rest of the work, such as plotting calculations are done in the office. Here, only linear measurements are taken. After three years in 1993, he left to start his own company.
“I realised the owner of the firm was making good money. I started as a land broker,” he says. His breakthrough came after his father tasked him to sell a piece of land.“After the business deal, I saw limitless opportunities for business,” he remembers. Gakuyo decided to sell his inherited land to start his own selling and buying company.
Armed with Sh600,000 and in partnership with a friend, Jaka Investments Company was registered in 1995.After four years, they parted ways in 1998 and he changed the name of the company to Gakuyo Real Estate. “I bought my first piece of land under my company and made a profit of more than Sh50,000. This was the real rebirth of my company,” he says.He says that success in real estate depends on your desire to learn how to sell or lease real estate. There are many ways to sell property but the best way is to be helpful to others and to have a large customer base. “When people think of real estate, your company should come to their mind,” he says.
Currently the company, which is worth Sh1billion, employs more than 200 people and has three branches in Nairobi, Thika and Nakuru. “Values in Kenya’s residential property market continue to rise, amidst robust economic growth and a growing in middle-class,” he says.The journey to his success, however, has not been a bed of roses because he has lost a huge amount of money from his savings of four years to a raw deal. After following the requisite procedure to acquire land and paying for it he learnt that the person who sold the land was a con man.
“I had paid Sh3.4 million to this person for that parcel of land, but I realised when it was too late that I had been conned,” he says. Apart from business, he is a bishop. Gakuyo says that it is possible for a man of cloth to be engaged in business.To motivate upcoming entrepreneurs, Gakuyo says: “There is no quick way to wealth. There are challenges and heartbreaks, however, you should learn from your mistakes to make your business work. I tell people that like a child, a business has to be nurtured and taken care off for it to grow,” he says.