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Mwenda Thuranira: From a Dishwasher to Real Estate Billionaire

I always take lessons at heart and failure as a stepping stone to better outcomes, says Mwenda

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The name Mwenda Thuranira resonates success in real estate, but behind his achievements lies a journey paved with resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and a steadfast commitment to turning dreams into reality.

As the CEO of Myspace Properties, a premier real estate company focusing on property development and management, Mwenda’s story is a testament to the transformative power of hard work and determination.

Hailing from Meru County, Mwenda’s entrepreneurial odyssey goes back to his early days, where he honed his business skills under the guidance of his enterprising grandfather in Isiolo town. From crafting rabbit hutches as a young boy to becoming a prominent supplier of chickens to local eateries in Isiolo and Meru counties during his teenage years, Mwenda’s early ventures instilled in him a foundation of financial acumen and business savvy.

“I used to construct quite nice hutches and my neighbours would ask me to make several for them for a nominal cost, like Ksh200,” Mwenda says. “I was the primary school kid who was earning his own money.”

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Despite initially pursuing a travel operations course at Utalii College at his father’s behest, Mwenda’s aspirations transcended local horizons as he harboured dreams of studying Business Administration at George Washington University in the USA.

His tenacity and savings from his entrepreneurial endeavours eventually materialised his American dream, leading him to diverse roles from a dishwasher in a seafood restaurant to a gas station attendant in Florida, each experience shaping his journey.

“After high school, I received three acceptance letters for college, but chose to attend Utalii College due to its affordability. I then embarked on an internship at Air France in customer care. However, every time I saw the pilots, I admired what they did, which led me to pursue piloting in the US after the company closed its operations in Kenya.”

He says he funded his stay in the USA through savings, but eventually, realized that being a pilot was not his calling, and transitioned into the real estate sector.

Mwenda’s entry into the real estate sector burgeoned during his stint as a ‘mjengo’ man at a construction site in the USA, where he gleaned invaluable insights from top realtors and immersed himself in the industry’s nuances. With a certification in real estate training, Mwenda seized opportunities, investing back in Kenya during challenging economic times and establishing a thriving presence in Mombasa, Nairobi and Meru.

“The distinction between the construction jobs there and here is that there you have the luxury of utilizing machines instead of performing all the tasks manually. The compensation was also good, at least $500 (Ksh65,000) per week. My objective was to gain a comprehensive understanding of the real estate sector. This experience taught me a valuable real-life lesson – to not shy away from getting my hands dirty.”

Embodying a philosophy of resilience and humility, Mwenda’s mantra is to “never let success inflate your ego or failure deflate your spirit”.

“I have made many mistakes in my career. But I always take the lessons at heart and the failure as a stepping stone to better outcomes. I have started ventures which were not successful but I know that I will always be on the right track if 7 out or 10 ventures break even. Tough times don’t last but tough people do. Pay attention to details, verify information and do background checks. Never be in a hurry to sign off and listen to your gut feeling,” says Mwenda.

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Steve Wambugu is a journalist based in Nairobi.
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