The population of Kenyans living in the diaspora is estimated to be three million. This group is said to consist of well-educated people who mainly live in the US, Canada, and Europe. However, Kenyans living abroad are cautious when it comes to investing their hard-earned money at home.

Kenyans in the diaspora planning to invest in their home country have heard horror stories and misgivings from others who have been scammed by agents or their own families. If you live abroad, you must be very careful when investing your money.

One group created to help investors in the diaspora is Manyatta Capital. Started by a Kenyan national who lived and worked in the US for over 10 years, this company helps Kenyans living in the diaspora buy land through unionization. The company brings together several foreign investors who buy shares in a single project. This project is then subdivided and buyers receive individual title deeds.

Investors can choose to build apartments, build their houses or lease that land – the choice is up to them. It is recommended to refrain from dealing with relatives as your money could go down the drain due to many factors. For example, sending money to a relative who knows nothing about investing will surely end badly. Whenever possible, hire a lawyer from a reputable firm to handle your investment process for you. It’s better to spend more on a lawyer who will make sure your investment is legitimate, negotiate for you, and handle the property process for you, rather than send thousands of dollars to a relative who could end up getting scammed.

When looking for a real estate company to work for, choose wisely. This is because some are fake, while others tend to inflate prices for huge profits. Look for a company that allows you to keep your money on escrow. In this way, you eliminate the risk of fraud. Having money on escrow means that a third party, mostly your attorney, will hold your money and only turn it over to the real estate company once they have personally inspected that the land exists and the deeds have been processed.

How do you determine if the prices that a real estate company gives you are legitimate?

When it comes to determining costs, the markets in Kenya and other foreign countries tend to differ greatly. In the US and other countries, it’s fairly easy to understand how the price of a property came to be because a real estate commissioner keeps records of all sales. However, this is not the case in Kenya and most agents inflate prices as a result. Many people living abroad have lost their savings with these types of schemes.

When investing in real estate, look for a company that consults with surveyors to identify properties that have great potential. Find a company that can help you identify a property, validate ownership, and negotiate prices on your behalf, while allowing your attorney to be part of the process.

How can our Kenyan government help?

“Many times, Kenyans living abroad have succumbed to fraud. Our government needs to offer a guarantee to Kenyans in the diaspora so that they know that if something goes wrong with their investments, they can be protected against staggering losses,” said Mr. Robinson Githae, Kenya’s ambassador to Washington. “Our government should reimburse investors who have been defrauded after using a registered company to buy property,” he continued.

This model has worked well in other countries and when implemented it can help those brothers and sisters who wish to invest their wealth in their homeland.

The Kenyan government is working very hard to raise awareness of investment opportunities among Kenyans abroad. Some Kenyans have been away from home for so many years that they don’t know how best to invest there. They end up trusting the international media, which unfortunately does not paint Kenya in a positive image. Our government is working hard to educate Kenyans living abroad about investment opportunities through seminars and workshops organized by embassies in foreign countries. If you hear of one being held near you, be sure to attend.

Last year, Kenyans living in the diaspora sent approximately Ksh 89.1 billion to finance investment in their home countries. By providing them with key information and protection, Kenyans living in the diaspora can send more money home and in turn strengthen our economy.

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