When Ruth Chege was approached by the officials of Lake Nakuru College of Tourism and Management in 2007, she had no idea that the visit would change her life for the better.
The college officials were looking for residential units near their campus on Kanu Street in Nakuru townÂ to accommodate their students. They met Ms Chege and told her that they were willing to turn her rental houses, which were just a stoneâ€™s throw away from the college, into a hostel.
However, after long negotiations, she declined the offer. However, as soon as the team left her compound at Langalanga Estate, she thought hard about the offer.
â€œThe visit by the officials of Lake Nakuru Lodge was an eye-opener for me and after a few months, I gave my tenants a quit notice and that is how Tekla GirlsÂ Hostels was born,â€ she says.
It is located off Mashindano Street in Langalanga Estate and is one the most sought-after girlsâ€™ hostels in Nakuru. Due to its serene location, the property has attracted girls from both public and private universities and colleges in the Rift Valley town.
â€œI have a passion for a clean home environment and unlike other hostels, at Tekla, cleanliness and security is paramount because girls are very sensitive to their surrounding and I would like them to have the best, just like my daughter, and that is why I will never compromise on these two virtues which I hold so dear in my heart,â€ she says.
â€œI was earning Sh20,000 from the four rental units but today, I have moved from the five-figure income to a comfortable six figures and the sky is the limit,â€ says Ms Chege, who will turn 51 on March 28.
â€œToday, I canâ€™t complain and I have reason to thank God for this far I have come. Five years ago, I was earning a paltry Sh15,000 but today I am comfortable,â€Â adds the former secretary at Telkom Kenya.
From four units of one-bedroom rental houses, she has renovated her premises and today it has more than 30 modern rooms for which she charges between Sh5,000 and Sh5,500 per month. Her investment is worth about Sh6 million.
The mother of two teenagers â€” a boy and girl â€” says the journey to attaining financial freedom started in earnest in 2007, when she applied for a development loan at aÂ local bank.
â€œI approached Barclays Bank, who loaned me Sh230,000 and that was the starting capital which enabled me to convert my rental houses into a hostel,â€ she recounts.
And as her business expands, she says, apart from providing a conducive environment to girls, some of whom are orphans from a nearby church, her joy is derived from the fact that she has been able to create five job opportunities.
â€œI have employed two kitchen staff, a cleaner, a matron, and a security guard on permanent basis and this has motivated. Iâ€™m now intending to start a boysâ€™ hostel in Nakuru town,â€ she says.
Her normal day starts at 8am, when she inspects the premises to make sure they are clean and that there is enough food for the day.
â€œMoney is not everything. A good businessperson should always make sure his or her clients get good value for their money and every complaint, no matter how small, should be addressed on the spot if you want to remain relevant,â€ she says.
Her experience in hostel management has seen her expand her venture and has now turned her house in Section 58 Estate in Nakuru town into another studentsâ€™ hostel where she receives visitors from as far as Oxford University in Britain.-Nation