Wanjaria, who was listed by Forbes as among Top 30 under 30 Africans in 2013, was described by his friends as a genius, a man who loved to think without the box.
An alumnus of Alliance High School, he was exposed to the job market at a young age, which resulted in him making big business moves while still in his twenties.
At the age of 19, while his contemporaries were relaxing awaiting university admission, the young entrepreneur served as Managing Director at Jossy schools – a family business owned by his parents – Christopher Kimiti and Dr Josephine Wanjaria.
Josephine is the sister to Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and former Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua.
At the age of 21, Wanjaria embarked on his entrepreneurial journey – by deliberately taking up opportunities that would give him an upper hand while running his own businesses.
“He signed up for a personal development programme before joining an insurance company as a volunteer. He briefly worked with the United Nations Environmental Programme in Gigiri, while taking up evening classes for his ICT degree at JKUAT,” his friend recalled.
He also worked at a law firm where his job was entirely to observe the daily routines – but which also gave him some legal knowledge.
It was while scouting for the best business venture that he noticed a gap in the real estate industry – which, at the time, was flooded by banking institutions, high-profile corporates and affluent businessmen. He teamed up with his friend and business partner Ian Kihara and established Serene Valley Properties.
The two acquired a four-acre prime piece of land along Waiyaki Way. They set out a plat to create a middle-class gated community that would be the complete estate containing villas and other social facilities.
Accompanied by the land title and a streamlined idea, Wanjaria and Kihara set out to look for investors. Having been new entrants in the industry and having no previous developers, financial or expertise record they were turned down, severally.
Luckily, they managed to get an investor who decided to pump in Ksh350 million into their project. Their bold business move was expected to pay off in the billions of shillings and earned them a spot at the Forbes Africa Top 30 Under 30 in 2013.
As any first-time builder would admit, the cost of putting up a house for the first time usually surpasses the intended budget, and building all 30 villas at once, was not the best of decisions.
Their inexperience cost them a fortune, and things went from bad to worse when their developer passed on. For six years, the project stalled as they reorganised their finances and the grace period for their loan came to an end.
On the other side, investors who bought some units off-plan came calling. The project resumed in 2019, with the majority of the houses being completed and waiting to be handed over to prospective buyers.
However, in March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic struck, hitting the last nail on the struggling business. Dejected, the young entrepreneur resorted to going back home to live with his parents.
“His business was hit hard and he sunk to his lowest. On November 18, 2020, he came back home to Tigoni and told his mum that he wanted to reflect on his life as he planned to get back up,” a friend explained during his funeral.
While in hibernation, he moved to his parent’s other home in Malindi, where they spoke at length on matters of life. At the time, he still displayed confidence in rejuvenating his life and business.
It was during this period that he began his spiritual conversion. His father told mourners that on the Sunday before he suffered suicide, he had given his life to God by becoming a born-again Christian.
Counselors, medics, and psychologists advise that you can always reach out for help when experiencing any mental health issues. Call Kenya Red Cross toll-free hotline, 1199 for support.