Talk of real estate and property investment, Stephen Kihonge is the right person to approach. Well versed with such matters, Kihonge’s entrepreneurship mindset is rooted in his family. Born in a family of five, his mother was a business woman while his father was a government district surveyor in the 90s. His persistence to pursue higher education as a distance learner, while working at the same time, explains why he managed to establish a real estate development company that has grown steadily within a short period. At just a youthful age, Kihonge is today an East Africa investor and the founder of Wishwork Homes, one of the leading property developers in the country. Destin Africa team had a chat with the entrepreneur and he explained his journey and his expectations for Wishwork Homes going forward.
Brieﬂy tell us about your professional background?
I sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2010. In November the same year, I registered for CPA section 1 with mock results as a distance learner. In December, I was employed by Kinangop Dairy as a marketer. My main responsibility was to market the company to the farmers to lure them to supply milk. Within a short period, I rose through the ranks. I was promoted to a field office clerk in mid-2011, and in January 2012, I was trained as a milk grader, a role that I undertook for six months. By this time I had already completed CPA section 3.
In September, I moved into my uncle’s newly acquired factory. I was assigned to do all the oversight and logistics work on the multi million project, while reporting to him directly. In February 2013, the maize milling factory officially started operations and this earned me a few coins that I used to register for a Bachelor of Commerce – accounting option – from one of the universities. I embraced eLearning as that gave flexibility to study and work at the same time. Later on, I joined the insurance industry, and at the same time, I set to acquire knowledge on real estate as that is where my passion was.
Tell us more about Wishwork Homes?
Wishwork Homes is a registered property developer. Our purpose is to offer housing solutions to the eastern Africa market, from people who are starting to own a property, to those who want to invest in the real estate market.
We are expanding our services to various countries. We are already in Uganda, with agents in Zambia, South Sudan, Qatar, Dubai and the United States of America (USA). We are building a system for marketers to earn real estate networking income, just like other companies selling other products do network marketing.
What’s your role as the ﬁrm’s managing director?
I do oversight work. I also engage in looking for new projects to invest in and following to the final documents to ensure client satisfaction. My desire is to offer genuine solutions both to my team and the clients.
Who has had the greatest impact on your career?
An uncle who I’m named after, Stephen Kihonge, always encouraged me that in education, you will never lose. Another uncle who offered me a finance job, taught me how to do business in all weathers and how to overcome business challenges. He couched me how to do business transactions, since he has a lot of experience in business world.
What part of your job keeps you awake?
I’m alert like a cat in finances handling, since I always account for every coin.
What can you say has contributed to your professional success?
When I face a challenge, I think of adding more knowledge to find ways to overcome it.
Have you faced any challenges in your line of duty, and how did you overcome them?
Challenges have always been there whenever there are team members who do not know where you are heading. I keep on training the team I have and encouraging them.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?
Keep on learning.
Embrace people who are ready to invest in your business.
Move hand in hand with all your stake holders in your business.