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My ‘aha’ moment came while stranded abroad

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Obed Bundi (pictured) is the guy behind the YouTube travel channel ‘Obed in the Wild’. One day, in his adventures, Obed ended up in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. He had had a pretty long day and needed a place to sleep before he could start on what had taken him to the East African capital. But he couldn’t find a decent hotel.

In the sea of strangers, he would find a friendly face, one that led him to a furnished apartment. And while it was more than he had hoped to spend on accommodation, he loved his stay in the little sanctuary that reminded him so much of home. So much so that it sparked a business idea — to create the same experience for weary travelers at home. And thus the home-stay arm of Obed in the Wild was born. A journey not without its share of misadventures.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I rent and lease complete or parts of apartment blocks, furnish and rent them to clients looking for furnished units. I’m also a wanderlust traveler and have a YouTube channel which showcases places I’ve been to.

I had gone to Ethiopia by road in 2018 to tour and explore the wild world and ended up in Addis Ababa. I checked with different hotels for a place to stay but was shocked when I could not find a good one to put up for the duration of my stay. Being the seat of the African Union, I expected the Ethiopian capital to have great facilities, given that it is also a fast growing economy.

I ended up staying in a furnished apartment and the experience of my stay there was a game changer. I decided to replicate this back at home and I’ve never looked back since.

An idea is only a good one if it makes sense for the market. Why did you think this was a good one?

For one, it is cheaper to stay in a furnished apartment if travelling alone or as a group. So they are a good bet for budget travelers.

Second, they are good places to network with individuals you meet in the shared apartments.

Thirdly, if you are travelling out of town or the country, the owner of the apartment becomes your contact person, one who can give you details you wouldn’t otherwise know about the location. I also realised that many people already held the notion that hotels are expensive. It was fertile land for me.

What was your initial capital?

Sh1.6 million. This was the cost of renting and furnishing an apartment block. The startup capital came from my savings and a bank loan.

How many furnished apartments do you have?

I run eight units. Six in Nakuru, and two in Syokimau in Machakos County. I do not own them but I lease or rent the floor spaces, furnish them then rent them out. We have both long and short stays. Long stays are up to a month and short stays are for a night. Prices are flexible ranging from Sh3,000 per night.

Why those locations?

I work in Nakuru. I have a fulltime job. As for the Syokimau location, that made sense because I’m targeting travelers and this is informed by the fact it is close to the airport and the Standard Gauge Railway.

It is a perfect place for staycations and for someone in Nairobi for a seminar or work. If you land in JKIA late at night, you don’t have to worry because proximity to such apartments can provide you a home away from home.

Furnishing must be expensive. How do you ensure good standards without breaking the bank?

All my furniture is locally made; the price is lower and the quality is good. Sourcing locally ensures I less compared to buying readymade furniture. I don’t understand why people would import what can be procured locally.

Breaking into the market is often the hardest part. How did you get your first client?

Before moving to using social media apps like Facebook and Airbnb, I used referrals from friends to market the spaces. Over time, we have created a client base and we depend on referrals. This is because they have experienced what we offer and have become our great marketers. We also advertise online.

Any blunders that you regret?

There was a time I allowed a client a two-months stay in an apartment and we did not have a written contract. That client vanished in thin air. I had not captured any of his contact details and that was not a wise business decision.

Another was when I furnished another apartment only for the management to tell me they don’t like the idea of furnished apartments in their court. This was a big financial blow but at the end of the day, it was a learning curve.

Is this all you do?

No. I’m also a business consultant with a company known as Empathy Solutions where I assist organisations to set up systems, develop marketing plans, team building and SOPs (standard operating procedure). I also train on leadership and personal experience.

What are some of ups and downs of this area of business?

Getting clients at a short notice when another client moves out is not easy. Also, there are those clients who will vandalise furniture, equipment or pilfer things when checking out. Also, the idea of staying in furnished apartments is a new trend that has not been embraced by many.

What advice would you give anyone wishing to invest in this sector?

Your heart has to be in hosting and you need to develop good interpersonal skills when it comes to clients. Remember you’re doing a sales pitch and you have to be convincing. Your clients will judge your place through their experience and can refer others to you.

How many employees do you have?

Three, but they work when we have guests in apartments.

Has Covid-19 pandemic impacted your business?

Yes. Things were bad when the country went in a lockdown in March. The business relies fully on people moving and travelling and the pandemic brought things to a standstill.

However, on the flipside, we are seeing people embracing furnished apartments because there is less congestion and they are a safe haven. The coronavirus has come like a blessing in disguise.

What business lessons have you learned so far?

Every business is a process and you don’t have to start one and expect returns at a short time. You really need to be patient.

Before you undertake any business, know what your competitive advantage is and the problem you are solving because at the end of the day, we are here to solve our clients’ problems.

How much can you make in a month?

On a good month, when the business is good, the income can be anything from Sh250,000 with profits dipping to as low as Sh100,000 on slow months.

Do you reinvest back in business or invest in other areas?

I plough back profits into business. That is how I have been able to have several apartments.

By Standard.co.ke


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Lifestyle

Ruth Matete seeks help as she marks first wedding anniversary minus hubby

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Ms Ruth Matete and her husband MrJohn Apewajoye
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Gospel singer Ruth Matete penned a moving message to her newborn daughter as she marked her first wedding anniversary but without her husband Beloved John Apewajoye who died this year.

 The Tusker Project Fame 5 winner welcomed her bundle of joy in October, seven months after the tragic death of her husband.

In a lengthy Instagram post, in which she also attached a photo of her daughter, Reyna Toluwa’s feet, Matete prayed that her daughter would grow up to serve the Lord.

“Reyna Toluwa my princess. My love. Am not a poet, but the words I write here, are from my heart. I pray for you on this special day. That you will grow to serve the Lord. You will spread the good news of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” Matete wrote.

She also declared that Reyna’s feet will carry the good news.

“As the Bible says; ‘And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?’ As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ I declare today, that your feet are beautiful. Not just because they look like your father’s, but also because they will bring good news as the word of God declares,” she added.

 Matete remembered the vows she made on her wedding day, ‘till death do us part’ but she emotionally noted that death took her beloved husband earlier than expected.

“A day like this a year ago, your late father and I walked down the isle. Yes, we didPromised to be together till death do us part. But death came earlier than we expected.  I miss him so much. But am blessed to have you as a gift that he left me with. I don’t even understand how I’ve come this far. It can only be God,” she posted.

Even though it was one of those difficulty days in her life, Matete promised her daughter she would be fine eventually.

“Today may not be such an easy day for mummy. But I promise you, I’ll be fine. I have seen God to be the father to the fatherless and husband to the widow as He has promised in His word. Today won’t be an exception. I know He will help us even today,”  Matete said in the post.

 She ended her emotional message by asking for monetary support as she could not yet manage to resume work after a troublesome pregnancy.

“Friends, our till number remains the same, incase you wish to support us.5495849. Whatever you can, will go a mighty long way as am still not able to work. God bless you friends and please keep us in your prayers,” she added.

By NN


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Lifestyle

World’s most-traveled man Fred Finn says Kenya is the safest place to visit during the pandemic

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Diani beach in Kwale County has played host to the world’s most traveled man, Fred Finn.

Finn has traveled to more than 150 countries at the age of 75 and holds the current Guinness Book World Records.

Finn, who is in the country until Monday, November 30 said Kenya is safe for holiday destinations.

He however noted that his visit at the moment is not for leisure, but to send a message that the country is safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says he has observed that Kenyans are following the protocols and guidelines than any other country he has traveled to during the pandemic.

“I did not come here on holiday, that is why my wife is not with me. I came because whenever Kenya has a little crisis I come and say Kenya is safe” he said

He said, during a pandemic, Kenya is the safest place to go on holiday.

Finn is scheduled to have his vaccine in December.

Tourism players say Finn’s visit to Kenya gives confidence to the international market that the country is an ideal destination.

“When you get an endorsement from the eyes of a traveler that is likely to carry the right persuasion to the potential travelers” said Kioko Musyoki, Leopard Beach General Manager.


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Entertainment

‘I regret…’ Anne Kiguta opens up about posting her daughter on social media

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TV news anchor Anne Kiguta has announced that she would like to share with her fans more about her life.

However, she draws a line on exposing her children to the limelight.

Anne has three children, one from her previous marriage and fraternal twins with Jomo Gecaga.

Responding to a fan who asked her about her babies, Anne posted a photo of her and her twins but blocked out the faces.

In her response she explained,

“Gosh, so many of you have said this… was the number one response. Well, I will have to let you down on that my loves.”

She added,

“I’m rather traditional (believe it or not) so I’m vehemently against it. My babies are are all still too young, including the eldest, to be on social media.”

Anne continued,

“In fact I really regret having posted my eldest at all. Mummy already has a pretty public life. They deserve their privacy.”

But not to break her fans hearts, Anne promised,

“A reference every once in a while but nothing more than that for a long long time.  Hope  you understand.”

In another post she still emphasized,

“That is my son. Quite the charmer. If only I could tell you half of what they say! But all these are are to me sacred moments…really can’t share much more.”

Not to be daunted though, Anne promised to talk about other aspects of her life.

Here are the various topics she is open to talking about.

By Mpasho.co.ke


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