Lucy Wangare: From School Dropout to Kiosk Food Vendor, Now Proud Owner of an Sh80 Million Hotel

In 1983, Lucy Wangare Muchiri faced a life-changing decision when she was just 15 years old.

Expecting a child and unable to continue her education, she made the challenging decision to leave Lari Secondary School. Little did she anticipate that this choice would mark the commencement of an extraordinary journey.

Originally from Gethithia village in Kiambu County, Lucy’s educational journey initially received support from her uncle, the renowned author Ngugi Wa Thiongo. However, financial assistance from Ngugi came to an end when he went into exile, prompting Lucy to relocate to her mother’s place.

“When he went into exile, that financial assistance ended, and I had to relocate to my mother’s place where I used to go to school on foot,” she mentioned in a previous interview.

This transition meant daily walks to school, which became even more challenging after an unexpected hitchhike altered the trajectory of her life. A ride intended for school took her to Nairobi, where she ended up living with the driver and eventually became pregnant.

Facing hardships, Lucy and her partner relocated to Cherang’any in Trans Nzoia County. The turning point in her life occurred in the early 2000s when her husband’s health deteriorated, leading to his passing. Despite the tragic loss, Lucy found herself liberated from a difficult relationship, opening the door to a new chapter in her life.

Reconnecting with her passion for cooking, Lucy specialized in catering for various events, mastering the art of food preparation. A significant moment unfolded when a generous pastor offered her Sh800 for her cooking services, a seemingly small amount that became the seed capital for what would later evolve into a multi-million-dollar business.

Lucy’s journey to success began with modest food sales under a tree in Kitale town. Despite opposition from the town council due to violations of public health regulations, Lucy persisted, providing affordable food options to low-income earners.

Her determination, combined with disciplined saving habits, led to the establishment of the renowned ‘Mama Njuguna Hotel.’ This establishment, known for its delicious and affordable tea, not only became a thriving business but also created job opportunities for numerous youths in the community.

Lucy’s success story continued to unfold as she expanded her entrepreneurial ventures, opening ‘Mama Njuguna Choma Zone’ along the Kitale-Eldoret road. With consistent returns, she supported the education of her four children and, at the age of 48, returned to school herself.

Now overseeing a flourishing business empire, Lucy employs 40 individuals and has become a symbol of success in her community. The dream that began as a food vendor, selling githeri at Sh5, chapati at Sh10, and tea at Sh10 to low-income earners, has become a reality.

Lucy Wangare Muchiri’s commitment to education extended beyond her own pursuits. She now serves as a motivational speaker in schools and churches, sharing her entrepreneurial lessons with young women and girls. Additionally, she advocates against gender-based violence, encouraging women to assert their rights and seek assistance when needed.

In pursuit of her dreams, Lucy diligently saved, accumulating Sh3 million and securing loans amounting to Sh80 million to fund the construction of a new hotel near Kitale Bus Park. The land on which the hotel sits, purchased for Sh1 million, symbolizes the realization of her aspirations.