Eldoret town is witnessing rapid growth of malls. Two shopping malls built recently are already operational while two others will be in business by end of the year.
Zion Mall, the first in the town and which opened for business in 2011, gave real estate entrepreneurs impetus after dozens of traders took up space in the building.
It was not until last year that the second one, Rupa Mall, was built.
Two others are now under construction — Highlands Mall and Paradise Mall. Rupa has attracted a wide range of businesses including restaurants and shops.
The mall’s proprietors said they built it in response to demand from the growing middle class.
“We conducted a market research and found that the growing middle class in this town and its environs needs such services,” said Tim Chesire, Director of Hornbill Investments Limited — the developer of Highlands Mall.
The mall, estimated to cost Sh800 million, will be the first green building in Eldoret town. Its roof is made up of solar panels which will ensure energy efficiency, Mr Chesire said.
The mall’s anchor tenant is Choppies supermarket. “The mall will provide services ranging from banking to fast food, fashion, beauty parlours and restaurants among others,” said Mr Chesire.
With 150 parking slots, the mall will also host shops. Ravi Shah, proprietor of Rupa Mall, said that business was brisk. “We want to make it a one-stop shop for families to access various services under one roof,” said Mr Shah, adding that they had recorded over 85 per cent occupancy.
The mall, he said, will host retail outlets, water parks, playgrounds, cinemas, social amenities and restaurants, among others. The mall’s anchor tenant is Chandarana Food Plus supermarket. Already, two popular food chains — US-based Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Java — have set base there.
Elizabeth Wekesa, Java Eldoret branch manager, said they opened a branch at Rupa after realising that there was high demand for their offerings.
“We chose this mall because it is away from the hustle and bustle in the CBD,” she said.
Uasin Gishu Trade executive Emily Kogos said the town was witnessing exponential growth. She said that the county had made it ease for investors to set up businesses.
“The county is gearing to a 24-hour economy and we are keen to drive this through the adoption of ICT,” said Dr Kogos. She said the town was also attractive to investors because of its strategic location in the North Rift.
Dr Kogos said that the county had developed a number of business friendly laws to spur investment.
A 2016 survey by World Bank said the county was the most favourable investment destination in Kenya.
The bank found that it takes only 20 days to start a business in Uasin Gishu.
Business licensing, property registration, construction permits and contract enforcement are the parameters that the World Bank looked at.
“The Africa Economic Zones Pearl River is setting up an industrial park which will have positive effect on the businesses,” said Dr Kogos.
The Sh200 billion park was launched last year and construction is expected to begin in August.
The town also provides a gateway for both local and international tourists who are interested in sampling various attractions in the western region.
“Governors, their deputies, county executives and other top officials from seven counties stay in this town,” said Francis Cheruiyot, Managing Director Shelters Consultants Limited.
The town has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years with Governor Jackson Mandago calling for its elevation to city status, saying his administration has created an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“Those who do business in Eldoret can attest to this. We have really changed this town, which I feel deserves to be elevated to a city,” he said during his Jamhuri Day address back in 2016.
Mr Mandago said that the enabling business environment had led to an increase in the number of investments.