What does it take to reach the top?
Despite the strides made in the Nigerian Real Estate industry and the opportunities presented by the rebased economy and the NMRC, there is still a low to mid-level involvement of women in the industry. The real estate industry and real estate investments as an asset class is largely perceived as a male dominated one with the proportion of active women practitioners or investors being quite insignificant when compared to their male counterparts.
In Asia, some of the wealthiest women have succeeded in creating immense wealth through real estate. This is in spite of the commonly held belief of the high gender inequality in Asia where women are hardly found in business and the few who are in business are given far less respect and attention than their male counterpart. HuiyanYang, vice chairman of real estate developer Country Garden, tops the list with a net worth of $6.3 billion, according to Wealth-X, a research firm that tracks the ultra-wealthy. She’s followed by Yajun Wu, founder of property firm Longfor Group with a net worth of $4.1 billion and XinZhang, co-founder of Hong-Kong listed Soho China, Beijing’s largest property developer, with a net worth of $3.4 billion. Wealth creation in China is inextricably linked to real estate and we expect to see a similar trend in Nigeria with the real estate market set to contribute more significantly to the economy in the near future following the opportunities to be unlocked by the NMRC and other government initiatives.
There are 3 key things that women need in their arsenal to achieve success in the real estate sector whether as investors or professionals:
1. Belief & Desire: The ability to dream big – a success mindset. Most make investors and active players in the real estate market think like Donald Trump, who says “if you are going to be thinking at all, make it big!” Women need to see themselves as able to play on s level playing field curtailed only by their own imagination or self-belief.
2. Knowledge & Networks: As with any field, developing knowledge and expertise is required to stay ahead. Read everything in sight about real estate, attend local and international seminars, network with successful real estate professionals, acquire the required training to excel in real estate and keep in touch with real estate trends. Having extensive real estate knowledge is a basic requirement, but business and financial savvy is also required. Networking and having astute advisors is also critical for female and male investors to excel.
3. Discipline & Action: The ability to execute your dreams and stay focused despite distractions and criticisms. Women who want to stand out in the market or who want to invest successfully need to put action to their dreams, while ensuring they maintain a healthy dose of positivity born out of deep knowledge of the market to deal with the twists and turns of the market.
It is important that Nigerian women participate more in the real estate industry as there are no real unique restrictions; cultural, ideological, legal, or otherwise. In Nigeria, the Land Use Act is universally applicable irrespective of gender. Section 43 of the constitution guarantees the right to acquire property anywhere in Nigeria. The Igbo custom where women could not have access to their deceased’s landed properties has been invalidated hence women can purchase and inherit land irrespective of culture. There are various sectors of the industry that women can actively participate in, ranging from real estate investment, property development, brokerage, legal adviser, financier, leasing consultant, marketing, commercial, to hospitality, the opportunities are limitless.
There may be environmental limitations and cultural mindset challenges that are unique to the African woman but these should present a great backdrop of opportunities for women to come together and collaborate to ensure they have access to these growing opportunities in the emerging economy. Women also need to collaborate to have a stronger voice in the industry and encourage the younger female generation to take advantage of opportunities earlier on to create wealth through real estate.
Fine and Country West Africa is well aware of the opportunities in educating and empowering women to invest in and excel in the real estate industry. Real Estate Investors’ Series for Women is the first in a series of programs to equip women with the knowledge and network to achieve results and create wealth through real estate.
For more details, please email:
Udo Okonjo is the CEO and Executive Chairman of Fine and Country