•What He Told City People
Olawale Ayilara is a young man who is doing well in the real estate business. He is one of the biggest real estate players in Lagos, but he does not make a song and dance of it.
He is a quiet and easy-going guy who is quite focused on his goals. In less than 3 years he has built up 11 estates around the Ajah-Epe corridor in Lagos, and he has not borrowed a single kobo from the bank.
He sits atop a thriving real estate company called Landwey Investment Limited. With as low as N4million you can buy land in any of his estates. The estates are as follows: Arium Estate, Abijo GRA; Urban Base, Bogije, Lekki; Westwood Park Estate, Sangotedo; Walton Gate, Sangotedo; Northville Estate; Bogije; Southern Green Estate, Lafiaji, Lekki; Greenwich Estate, Sangotedo; Westwood Park Estate Extension, Sangotedo; Orange Ville Estate, Ogombo; East Amber, Abijo GRA. He also has Brent Hills Estate in Abuja.
He is a passionate entrepreneur with over 10 years experience, starting and running businesses around the South West of Nigeria, handling transactions worth a combined value of $200 million.
He is the founder & CEO of Landwey Investment Limited, a real estate investment company employing innovative methods that are disrupting the Real Estate sector in the region.
Prior to founding Landwey, he worked as Head, Business Development, Creativity and Strategy at Eagles Insight and Innovations and Co-founded Nigerian Property
Investments Group; a real estate platform for Nigerians in the diaspora.
Olawale is a business strategist that has spent most of his career in Business Development, Innovations & Strategy.
He is an alumnus of Lagos Business School with an MBA from the Metropolitan School of Business and Management in the UK. He sits on the board of over 10 high profile businesses and is a member of the Sponsors for Young Growing Business Association, a pan African organization comprising a network of leading African professionals thriving in challenging career paths.
He serves as the President of the Nigerian Advocates for Positive Change and the Senior Director of the Beyond School Initiative Organization.
He was the host of the Ogun State Business Development Conference in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
He has been honoured with numerous awards and professional recognitions, one of which is The Most Innovative Real Estate Leader Award 2017.
His extraordinary achievements as an accomplished entrepreneur under the age of 30 saw him being listed in the Forbes Africa Under 30 Class of 2018. He is a recent Alumnus of the Harvard Business School in Boston where he studied Real Estate Management, Finance, Design and Leadership.
A few days back, he spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE about his remarkable success story.
Landwey is 3. How does it make you feel, when you look back?
When I look back, it makes me feel there is still a whole lot to be done, because if you are very visible, you can’t hide, especially if you are in the forefront. You will want to beat your own record. That is what challenges me as a person and as regards the general philosophy of the company, that is what drives us. So, looking back at what we have done, we still feel there is a whole lot to be done, putting into consideration the present problem that we have in the housing sector in Nigeria vis-a-vis what we have done. It looks as if we have done nothing.
Looking at it from that perspective it tells us every time and then that we still have a lot to do.
If you are to advise government on how to improve the housing situation in the country, what will be your advice? What are your thoughts?
The truth is that when we are ready to do it, we can do it because we have seen it been done in other parts of the world. No1 is we need to first of all start to maximise the airspace.
We don’t maximise the airspace in Nigeria, so everybody builds vertically now and nobody is building horizontally. We should just not have one 1,004 flats in Lagos, we should have over 100 of such in Lagos and then people can live in affordable flats, affordable units.
What is the total land space of Lagos compared to the growing population of Lagos people. It is a metropolitan city. How many Corp members go back after their NYSC? They all stay back and they also try to realise their dream.
We need to have a good Cityplan and not just operate it the way we used to operate it before. It’s just not like any urban city in West Africa and in Africa. On the Island, for example, there is water left and right. You have the Lagoon on one side and you have the Ocean on the other side. It means that it is possible in the next 20 years, we might exhaust the land space in Lagos. Look at the Island, it is a place supporting the new generation of millennials, so it has to be planned. Everybody is coming to the Island to stay. We have to consider maximising airspace. To really tackle this housing problem the government needs to allocate to developers according to their capacity. Everything has to be planned. We are not just thinking about how to cater for now. We are thinking about how to cater for the future. That is also very, very, very important. Also, we cannot achieve affordable housing if we don’t put into consideration Airspace.
How can the new government in Lagos State help developers perform better?
The governor that we have in Lagos State has experience in the Real Estate sector. I am so sure that it is only a matter of time, he will come to that sector to do remarkable things. But there is just a lot to be done when it comes to housing.
There is a lot that can be done to ease doing business. We have had to run Landwey without any form of Equity. We don’t have any bank loan. But not every entrepreneur would be able to do that at the rate at which we have been able to do it. To be more specific, I think we need to start from the Interest rate of banks. We have not had to borrow from the bank and we don’t intend borrowing from the bank. We should start from the Interest rate and it starts with the government supporting developers. We need a structured mortgaged system in Nigeria. That is, somebody earning a decent salary of maybe X or Y amount, not every one of them can access a mortgage. We need to put all these systems in place to be able to cater to the housing need in Nigeria.
The government needs to start by having a stakeholders forum. They need to understand the problem. You can’t proffer a solution to a problem that you don’t understand. With a stakeholders forum, you will have a better perspective of the problem.
I have had to do over 2-kilometre road myself and I am still paying tax. Lets put all the necessary infrastructure in place. As it is, everybody is their own Local Government Chairman. I provide my own water. I provide my own electricity and my own road. The government should start by putting necessary infrastructures in place that will support Real Estate growth. We need to understand it from their angle, the finance angle and then the government support. It is very, very important for the next phase of Real Estate in Nigeria.
Basically, what services do you offer?
Here at Landwey, we play in the Site & Service Business. So, we develop infrastructures. We acquire land and we put the necessary infrastructures in place like Water, Electricity, Roads, Recreational areas and the rest. We also do buildings, like a residential building. But we are strong on development now, Infrastructural development now which is all Site and service. We also do residential buildings. We also have a construction company which is another arm of the company.