Kenyan YouTuber and baker Beldina Kirito has for the first time narrated how she lost a Sh6 million investment in Karen, amidst the ongoing pandemic.
Kenyan baker narrates how she lost Sh6 million hotel investment in Karen [Video]
We were to do a grand launch, with Jalang’o as the chief guest - Beldina
Beldina detailed how she and her husband lost savings due to community ‘politics’, and regulations put in place to govern residents of Nairobi's posh suburb, Karen.
The baker, who is often featured on K24’s breakfast show, mentioned that she had always dreamt of owning a hotel and when the opportune time came, she dived in with both hands.
“We had a very big hotel in Karen, called Elegant Garden Hotel but it’s not there anymore…Today I'm here to give you the story because I have healed and I can talk about it. It has not been easy, it’s been such a challenge! It was such a big blow, you have put together all your savings, borrowed a big bank loan, set up a business, and after four months it's not there anymore,” Beldina kick-started her narration.
According to her, the initial plan was to set up a hotel in Kilimani area but when they couldn't find an ideal location, they opted to try their luck in Karen after getting wind of a very prime property that could accommodate their needs.
Beldina disclosed that the property in Karen was sitting on a two-acre piece of land and perfect set for their establishment.
“Our main interest was in Kilimani but we didn’t mind going to Karen... it was a 2-acre piece of land.
“We saw a different business opportunity that was not in our plan because now we could do weddings, photo sessions, outside catering and accommodation. So we deiced to give it a try,” she added.
Within a span of two weeks, their hotel was up and running but little did she know more huddles were on the way.
“We were to do a grand launch, with Jalang’o as the Chief Guest,” she noted.
However, after a short while, it emerged that they had skipped a very important step when setting up the hotel, and that’s seeking the go-ahead of the Karen Residence Association.
“A day before the launch which was to be on October 19, we get a call from the Karen OCS, we had met with her on October 17, for security, and she asked us, 'Have you talked to the Karen Community and informed them about the Hotel? Because I have received a call from them and they are saying that event is not happening. They will stop it'," the baker narrated.
After getting in touch with the Karen residents' association, Beldina and her husband proceeded with the launch promising to hold further discussions on how the hotel would be operated.
The residents' body would later raise more issues with the property being used for commercial purposes, despite it having been a hotel before.
“All this time it’s a war between us and the community. Resident saying, they can’t allow our hotel to be in their midst
"They reached a point where we had a disagreement and they closed the barrier…that day they decided they are not opening the barrier for people going to the hotel and anybody coming there was being told the Hotel is illegal and we lost big time. That day we made losses and it was a wake up call that we are not ready to continue with this kind of war,” she narrated.
After the frustrations, they held a meeting with the association but it was clear they were not welcome in the neighborhood, but unfortunately their Sh6 million investment had already gone to use.
“We could not stay in that place… the landlady was trying to get the certificate of change of user but she could not find it. So we were given three months to clear from the area. We had invested so much; by this time the place had picked. When we were leaving we had to do refunds for four weddings,”
“We left in mid-January (2021) and we could not clearly get another place like that. We went to Adams Arcade…we needed around two million to start over again in the new place, but we could not raise the moment," Beldina said.
Luckily they hooked up with new partners to try and run the new hotel at Adams but things did not go well and they had to throw in the towel in November 2021.
“The hotel is not there and guys we have not died, we are still alive. This was a big loss that had faced us…" she said.
She also added that currently she is seeing a therapist to help her cope with the huge loss.
“Guys if you are going through a difficult situation, it okay to seek help, talk about it.
“Despite, the business going down, I have learned a lot from it and the kind of network I have right now is just incredible,” Beldina revealed.
Beldina Kirito mentioned that the purpose of sharing her story is to encourage people who might be going through a similar scenario or even worse, that life must go on despite all the huddles.
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