As I walk into Capital Club, I am expecting a really uptight business environment, being the first East Africa’s Premier Private Business club, only to be ushered into a very welcoming environment with a modern and contemporary feel.
Capital Club is the newest kid on the block, a networking hub for Kenya’s Who’s Who: CEOs, top managers and partners of major companies – both local and international.
I am meeting the General Manager, Andrew Christon on the beautiful roof terrace restaurant. The black and white furniture gives the room a warm yet stylish décor, complimenting the earthy tones of the walls and floor and giving both the feeling of a business yet toned down environment. This is where members unwind with their guests after a long day and yes, phones are allowed in the club.
Not to be confused with the regular country clubs, usually with a vast golf course, Capital Club, a member of the Signature Clubs International, is very flexible with their in-house rules such as use of phones, laptops and cash payment for both members and guests to allow flexibility.
“Unlike other country clubs, we have a very dynamic younger membership, as we have tapped into the new-age CEOs who are running very successful companies. We also have great food. Our rule on cash payment is also very flexible because we want members to freely bring their guests here ,” explains Andrew.
Andrew informs me that Capital Club is the first of its kind in Africa and the fifth business club he has opened after London, and Moscow which was the first of the Signature Clubs International, Guangzhou China and Dubai where the idea of Capital Club East Africa was born.
With nine years’ experience in 5 star hotels, Andrew started out as waiter and worked his way up in top hotels like The Dorchester and Le Meridian Hotels in London.
Then he moved into the world of exclusive Private Members Clubs, opening five business clubs around the world.
“I am brought in to oversee the operations of the club from its conception to maturity. We have only been open for about two month but I have been in Kenya for three years now to do the set-up, membership and employment. I will be around until the club has gained ground. I move around with my wife and two children almost every five years,” he says.
Andrew gives me a tour around the club, where most of the employees are Kenyans but with international experience. He assures me that they are the highest paid service workers in Kenya currently. And 90per cent of their reasonably priced menu – most dishes are under Sh2,000 a plate, is locally sourced for an Asian and Japanese fusion.
To get to the premier restaurant, we pass the members wall which has displayed photos of current members and which changes every first Thursday of the month.
This is a networking day where a speaker is invited to enlighten the members on new investments and also where they can pick top issues affecting Kenyans.
After all, most of them are responsible for decisions made in this country. The Premier restaurant is reserved for highly classified business meetings.
With the growing middle class and 60 per cent of the club members being below 50, Capital Club has invested in quality drinks with champagne going at a very reasonable price to cater for this younger group.
This is the first place in Africa to stock Laurent Perrier champagne at only Sh7,000 a bottle. The rest of their wine and whisky list is not as exorbitant as one would expect.
Capital Club East Africa was created five years ago in Dubai’s Premier Private Business Club and investors picked Nairobi as their central hub as they and their members are confident about Kenya’s economy and its potential for growth.
The board of directors are the founders of the club were carefully picked for the influence they would bring to the club.
“Kenya is a great location for investment and we chose it because we noticed the changing trend where major companies are moving their African headquarters into Nairobi and those are the people we want to tap,” he says.
Being a member of this club means one is also a member of the 250 International Associate Clubs around the world. One membership guarantees a direct entry to these clubs when travelling.
To be a member, one has to be invited by a current member and the board of directors has to approve your CV to see if you will bring the right influence into the club.
Then a one-time fee of Sh800,000 is paid and subsequent monthly fee of Sh16,000 to use club facilities like the gym, state-of-the-art conference facilities and meeting rooms at no extra cost. The membership is 60 per cent men and 40 per cent women.
With Kenya’s first Africa flagship club being a huge success, the Signature Club is gearing to open a Forbes Club in all major cities in the world, followed by another business club in Lagos Nigeria.