IFC investment brings retailers and customers closer
Today about 1.5 million people live along Nairobi’s Thika highway. For them, shopping involves a day out—and usually not a pleasant one. A retail outing from this part of the city is mostly spent fighting traffic, crowds and other inconveniences associated with a long commute to shopping centers nearer to the city center.
Supported by IFC, a new development along the highway, Garden City, promises some relief through the largest retail center in East Africa. Local and international retailers will gain a new and unique platform to address the needs of their customers in the fast-growing eastern suburbs of Nairobi. The Actis-sponsored development is being built on a 32-acre plot will include a shopping mall, residential units and a recreational park.
Phase one is already underway and will involve the development of about 33,000sqm of retail space and 76 residential units. It is expected to be completed by end of 2014. Garden City retailers like Tile & Carpet Centre, Game ( a South African chain store), and Deacons have taken space at the mall.
“Garden City will bring retailers closer to their customers, and will also open new business opportunities,” said Oumar Seydi, IFC Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. The project is expected to create 650 jobs directly and 850 more upon completion. Seydi noted, “Garden City is actively working with IFC and CDC to encourage entrepreneurship and serve consumers through an initiative that aims to attract local artisans who will have access to affordable temporary market spaces.”
IFC has invested $7 million as equity and is considered as one of the major investors in Garden City, along with CDC. As of June 2013, IFC committed more than $600 million of long-term and short-term financing in the retail sector globally. Retail is an important sector in emerging markets, as a growing middle class has more disposable income and changing tastes. The sector is a strong source of job creation and tax revenue, and offers improved quality of life by providing access to consumer goods.