Urithi is committed to deliver their promise for affordable housing and give members value for money
Since inception, Urithi Housing Co-operative Society has focused on transforming the lives of Kenyans by making house and land ownership affordable. The high costs of land, mortgage and lack of collaterals lock out many people from buying land and owning home. Urithi gives members a platform where they can pool resources and achieve their goals of owning property at affordable costs.
“Our concept is owning together,” opens Geoffrey Kilonzo, chief operations officer. “We identify a piece of land or come up with a housing model after which we engage members and mobilize them to buy,” he adds. The bottom line is that the co-operative walks the journey with its members until they acquire a piece of land or own a house.
So far, Urithi has unveiled a number of housing projects in various parts of the country including the Nyumba Mia, Gem Gardens, Own a Room, Olive Gated, Miliki, Mavuno as well as a buy-and-earn concept. Its innovative phase by phase model provides alternatives for members, thus they are able to participate in the projects they deem appropriate.
The co-operative draws membership from people of all shades and walks of life. It has brought people from different social and economic backgrounds together and they have benefited immensely from the unique product offers. “We have products for the low, middle as well as high-end market segments,” says Kilonzo.
Members also enjoy dividends from the profits realized.
In addition, members buy properties at cost hence saving for more investments. Prior to purchasing a property, Urithi researches on its location and bargains on the best price possible. It also engages professionals such as quantity surveyors, contractors, architects and lawyers who provide professional advice on various issues affecting the real estate sector to ensure that members get the best out of every project.
Urithi has commendable business ethics. After identifying a piece of land, it conducts due diligence to make sure that the property put on sale to its members is authentic. That is achieved by carrying out intensive research on a given parcel of land. This is what sets it apart considering that many investors lose their hard earned money to deceitful land dealers. It is certain that the sector is fraught with high risks of fraud.
The co-operative society processes documents on behalf of its members. “In 2015, Urithi gave out 3000 title deeds and is projecting to double that in the current year,” says Kilonzo. Being a legal document, a title deed proves useful when one is in need of financing.
He adds that communal living is at the heart of the housing co-operative. Putting people together in a gated community such as the Nyumba Mia concept helps in addressing the issue of security and leverages on economies of scale. It also encourages people within one community to interact. The concept was borrowed from the Nyumba Kumi initiative launched by the government some years back.
In the present-day, investing in property has become the trend as it gives members surety. In Kenya, appreciation of property is guaranteed, and currently stands at 7 per cent per annum.
At Urithi, service delivery is exceptional. “We provide service to members at their comfort. That is how we have been able to thrive in the market.” Urithi has over 200 marketers on the ground who work tirelessly to capture the needs of the clients.
The co-operative has witnessed rapid membership growth. “So far we have over 14,000 members and counting. We intend to grow this number to 60,000 in the next three years in line with our strategic plan,” reveals Kilonzo.
To become a member, individuals are required to register with Kshs. 1,000 and buy a minimum of two shares worth Kshs.14000, after which they identify a project and invest in it. The co-operative has banked on instantaneous documentation of ownership and share certificates, thus improving its credibility in the eyes of members.
Kilonzo further says that Urithi is also open to the corporate world. Recently, it partnered with Tuskys Supermarkets to provide housing and settlement solutions for the staff.
However, in spite of the great strides in its undertakings, Kilonzo notes that dynamics of buying together has its own fair share of challenges. Sometimes people mistake delay with failure to deliver the promise. Delay in clearing balances within the agreed time frame, and at times the long government procedures may occasionally cause delay in processing the title deeds.