When your KES 6 million investment goes down the drain – the story of Beldina Kirito and her hotelFebruary 8, 2022
What could you do with KES 6 million shillings? Well, a lot. It could buy you a nice car, buy you some piece of land and build you a homely three-bedroom house. Or, you can invest it and multiply it for life insurance in the real sense of the word. Beldina Kirito and her husband chose the latter option, hopeful that their business will do well – then the rest would follow. But that remains, just a story. What went wrong?
K24 TV This Morning Show regular and baker Beldina Kirito had a dream of one day owning an elegant hotel. In 2020 after the pandemic had struck and hotels were closing, she and her husband did the unusual – they took a bank loan and put their savings together and armed with KES 6 million, they set out to establish their dream enterprise.
“On September 1st 2020, is when we opened the hotel, and it was a dream come true because I’m usually passionate about cooking and baking. It’s a venture we had started with my husband. The dream started in April, when there was lockdown and we were really cooking,” Beldina says in a video posted on her YouTube channel.
The first location they hand in mind was the Kilimani area, but then there was no ideal spot in the estate for the venture. Then they set out for the more affluent Karen where the richer and wealthy live. There, they found the perfect spot and building sitting on a two-acre piece of land. It was the ideal spot for their Elegant Garden Hotel.
“We saw a different business opportunity that was not in our plan, because now we could do weddings, photo sessions, outside catering, accommodation,” she says. After two weeks of setting up and making sure everything was in place, they planned for a grand launch with Kiss 100 Breakfast Show radio host Jalang’o set to be chief guest. Well, everything was not in place as they would shortly discover: They hadn’t consulted the community.
About consulting the community
The Karen Residents Association was not happy with Beldina’s plan and business.
“A day before the launch which was to be on October 19, we get a call from the Karen OCS and she was like 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,” Beldina explains.
The budding business woman had just been notified that any event in Karen had to be blessed by the resident’s association. This hadn’t come up during her October 17 meeting with the Karen Police Station OCS on matters of providing security for the event.
She had to act fast. Isn’t that one of the qualities of being a successful business person? Making decisions quickly and acting on emergencies? So Beldina went ahead and got the phone contact of the Karen Resident’s Association chairman, organised for a meeting, and ironed out some issues over possible noise pollution, etc.
The grand launch went ahead and one would think Beldina would be quite happy and settled on making the business a success. The Karen Residents Association still wasn’t amused that they hadn’t been consulted from the onset about setting up the hotel. Yes, they had to agree on whether they wanted a hotel in their space, or not.
“All this time it’s a war between us and the community. Residents saying, they can’t allow our hotel to be in their midst,” Beldina continues.
The disagreements continued even as the Elegant Garden Hotel picked up slowly, customers dropping by, people booking for weddings and other events.
“They closed the barrier,” Beldina says. The residents association had decided that they would not open the barrier to anyone going to the hotel and told whoever cared to listen that the hotel was illegal. This was despite the location having previously served as a hotel.
“We lost big time. That day we made loses and it was a wakeup call that we are not ready to continue with this kind of war,” she narrated.
Her landlady failed in her efforts to get a certificate for change of user to commercial premises.
A subsequent meeting with the resident’s association indicated that Beldina and her hotel business was not welcome in the area. She had three months to move out. She had to refund four wedding bookings. Then she left in mid-January 2021.
KES 6 million had gone down the drain.
A new place for business
As they say in business, persistence is key. That was what was in Beldina’s mind. They could look for another investment spot despite losing a lot of money. There was a spot at Adam’s Arcade along Ngong’ Rd. But she need at least KES 2 million to start however small. She didn’t have that kind of money.
She engaged some partners with the hope of raising enough money and kickstarting the hotel business – again. They tried – but by November, they didn’t have the energy nor the money to continue. It was a lost cause for that moment. They gave up and closed shop.
“The hotel is not there and guys we have not died, we are still alive,” Beldina says in a sign of self-reassurance. “If you are going through a difficult situation, it’s okay to seek help, talk about it,” she adds, affirming that she was seeing a therapist.
Beldina Kirito’s elegant hotel dream may have died – at lest for the moment – but she is thankful for the lessons learnt and the networks created.
“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 has not been easy,” Beldina starts in the YouTube video you can watch below.