JP to his friends and business associates, John Njoroge became the talk of town after his company, JNP Properties, was granted a $7.1 million (Sh5 billion) loan by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to put up 400 houses in Embakasi, Nairobi. The project is yet to begin.
Njoroge’s Texas-based company is valued at $450 million (Sh33 billion) and has an annual turnover of $27 million (Sh2 billion). JNP also has houses in Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana.
Njoroge went to the US in 1990 to study computer science at the University of Texas, and Thomas College in Maine. Fifteen years later, he boasts of a personal jet and a ranch.
Three years into college, he started the company, mainly buying and renovating apartments. It was a giant step toward fulfilling a lifelong dream sowed while he was a 19-year-old -student at the Kenya Power & Lighting Training School in Ruaraka on the outskirts of Nairobi.
JP first put Sh6,000 of his personal savings in a six room mud-house in Mathare Valley, which he rented out.
“I remember my closest friends, including one who is now an MP, referring to me as a slum-lord every time I took the monthly dip to the valley to collect the Sh150 a unit rent from my tenants.” His thirst for more saw Njoroge buy his next property in Ruiru, when he was just 21.
In America, JP’s first big break came in 1994, when he bought and renovated a 160-unit apartment valued at $14 million (Sh1 billion). But the going was tough at first. He had only $500,000 (Sh37 million) and needed a huge loan. Most of the banks he approached dismissed him. “But at the 15th stop, the Bank of Boston did listen,” he recalls.
He named the property Henna Town Homes after an older sister who had helped pay his school fees. Njoroge, the son of a pastor and a housewife mother, grew up in Wangige, on the outskirts of Nairobi.
The essence of struggle was implanted early in his life, and he remembers selling eggs in the city centre to raise his high school fees at age16.
To connect with his motherland and provide a constant reminder of his roots, JP gives his properties Kenyan names such as Redhill, Outspan, Spring Valley, Tigoni Villas and Loresho. Aahhh to have a little bit of home here!!