Kenyans in the diaspora, flush with American dollars, are rushing to invest back home where they are putting up apartment blocks, schools and hotels, thereby vastly improving the real estate and positively impacting the economies of their localities.
Nowhere is this phenomenon more starkly evidenced than in Kisii County, where a bulk of the diaspora cash is finding its way in real estate investments, hospitality and even education.
Dr Matundura Nyanchama, who has lived in the United States and served as chairman of the Kisii community in the diaspora a few years ago, attributed the fast-paced growth of Kisii Town to the heavy investment in properties by Kenyans who live abroad.
He said that 40 percent of Sh117 billion shillings remitted by Kenyans in the diaspora ends up in the county, and that more than half of this is invested in real estate.
Data from Central Bank of Kenya indicates that diaspora remittances have been on an upward trajectory in recent times, hitting a high of Sh197.12 billion in 2017, up from the Sh174.30 billion realised in 2016, according to a report published in the Business Daily in February this year.
Mr Peter Momanyi, a resident of North Carolina, has invested more than Sh10 million in residential flats in Kisii’s Mwembe Estate. His investment brings in half a million per month as rent. He has also opened a hotel at Nyambera to boost his income.
Mr Momanyi said the investments in Kisii stand as testament of the long hours of the sweat poured into work in the USA.
“Life in the US should not be about working all year long, it calls for a brave soul that is willing to save and put something back home,” he said.
Speaking to the Nation on Friday, Mr Momanyi said he moved to the USA in 1998 and briefly worked as a counsellor for children with attention deficit challenges.
He later worked as an insurance agent, opening various branches in several states. He has since bought land in Nairobi and Kisii and is planning to set up more other residential units in the Nairobi plot.
“Life it is about making right calculations and putting money into things that make economic sense to you,” Mr Momanyi said at his Mwembe residence.
A previous investment in a car leasing venture turned sour after people he had entrusted with the business stole the 15 cars he had bought for the company.
Another Kenyan in the diaspora, Mr Besama Nyakomi, says life abroad is not a bed of roses and that is why he opted to start a model school at Mairiba in Kisii.
He has already poured Sh3 million in the initial construction phase of the school that will cost him more than Sh10 million once complete.