Optiven pays Sh200m claims for stalled greenhouse project


Optiven chief executive George Wachiuri. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Optiven Limited, a land selling and real estate company has so far refunded Sh200 million to compensate customers who bought greenhouses at the Kilimo Tujijenge project, after its partner who was to implement the project pulled out.

The Kilimo Tujijenge Project, which began in 2017 in Kajiado County, was a partnership between Optiven and SME Resource Centre and was aimed at enabling customers who were to come on board to venture into agribusiness through a greenhouse farming model.

Optiven was to provide the land and value additions such as drilling of boreholes and piping water into every plot. SME Resource Centre on the other hand was to install and manage the greenhouses on behalf of customers in addition to marketing the produce.

Customers were to be paid after all the harvested produce had been sold and expenses deducted.

Optiven Limited as well as other independent investors who had put money in the project have already sued SME Resource Centre at Kiambu Law Courts and Kajiado Law Courts.

SME Resource Centre Ltd is owned by June Gathoni who is fighting similar cases in court.

“Optiven took a quick step to report this entity and its director to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), upon which a criminal case has been ongoing for the last four years at the Kiambu Law Courts. Optiven and several Kilimo customers are state witnesses,’’ Optiven Limited chief executive officer George Wachiuri told Business Daily.

Mr Wachiuri said the refund aspect was reached out through a Cushioning Risk Sharing Initiative to all its affected customers.

‘Optiven began refunding all affected customers through a cushioning Risk Sharing Initiative. Under this Initiative, Optiven has refunded most of the affected customers’ funds that were directly paid to SME Resource Centre for greenhouses,’’ Mr Wachiuri said.

Most of the customers, Optiven Limited said, have either been refunded cash or swapped the amount that they had lost through SME Resource Centre with new plots of land across the various projects owned by Optiven Limited or offset any outstanding balances on plots they are already servicing.

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