How a billionaire’s trip to Nairobi brought Airbnb to Kenya

The Airbnb concept took root in Kenya, with the majority listing their apartments to the site portal in order to attract a suitable clientele and earn additional income.

Founded in 2008 in California, United States of America (USA), the concept has become a global success, attracting lucrative investors and customers.

Locally, adoption has increased in recent years, with Airbnb data showing a 10% increase from 25% in October 2021 to 35% in December 2021.

Former US President Barrack Obama (left) and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.


However, the concept was relatively new before 2015, until a trip by Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb and one of the founders, arrived in the country for an official trip.

At the time, Chesky was part of the delegation accompanying former US President Barrack Obama to Nairobi. Seizing the opportunity, Chesky created a huge charter on the concept, urging influencers and tourists to book an apartment through their portal.

Obama made the two-day visit while still in office to discuss issues related to security, trade and rights.

Thanks to Chesky’s intervention, registrations in Kenya have grown to over 1,400 in less than a year, with more than 788 booked in Nairobi alone.

Speaking in a previous interview, Chesky noted that the concept was extended to those traveling for business or leisure. He added that tourists from all over the world would still have access to the listings on the portal.

“Kenyans are increasingly adopting Airbnb as a means of traveling and finding accommodation, with the number of Kenyan guests using Airbnb to find suitable accommodation around the world tripling in the last 12 months alone,” he said. he stated during the trip.


The the concept was born from an idea of Chesky and his roommate Joe Gebbia who were looking to earn extra income by renting out their apartment in California.

They wanted to take advantage of tourists and investors attending an upcoming major conference, as hotel accommodation prices were unstable at the time.

The duo, who acted as tour guides for investors and designers, created a site for easy navigation. 12 years later, the concept is worth Ksh 3.6 trillion.

A photo of someone holding a phone with an Airbnb logo in a living room

File image of an Airbnb illustration. Airbnb revolutionized the travel industry by giving traditional hotels a run or their money.


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