•What He Told City People About His Success Story
In the Lekki & Ajah area of Lagos, Kennedy Okonkwo is the biggest real estate player in that axis. Over the last 18 years, he has built so many classy residential estates with so many units of flats, duplexes, semi-detached apartments & Co… No wonder why many of his friends and colleagues call him the King of Real Estate. Others even call him the IGWE of Real Estate. He has not only become big in real estate, but he has also encouraged and helped hundreds, of other young real estate developers to set up their own. He has also mentored hundreds of young tech startups. He recently spoke to City People Magazine Publisher SEYE KEHINDE.
How has life been as a Real player?
It has been interesting. It has been exciting. This is going to 18 years of being in the industry and ten and a half years full time. Its been amazing. It has been awesome. At least I have kids that are biologically mine in the industry and those that are also not biologically mine (Laughs). Its been great.
From the point at which you went into it and now what will you call the milestones?
There has been a great deal of Transitions. Don’t forget, that I got into Real Estate as an Agent. I was doing it while still doing my 9 pm-5 pm job and from doing Built, Operate and Transfer at Oniru, Lekki. Phase 1 and Co. today we can afford to buy land, or do Joint ventures to build our own houses. We transitioned from building individual housing units on the streets to continue building our estates and to continue building our dream homes for our subscribers.
Today, we are major proponents of making an aspirational living, affordable. In essence, what we try to do is to satisfy the upwardly mobile generation, by giving them what they aspire for in life. What they have seen people in Ikoyi and Victoria Island enjoy, they also want to enjoy. And these things don’t cost too much. These things are not too much to ask for. What that group of people, I mean the young urban upwardly mobile, professionals are seeking is uninterrupted power supply, potable water for their homes, excellent and improved drainage services within and around their neighbourhood and their estate great security, they also want renuctional facilities, football pitches, Volleyball court, Tennis courts, games Arcade, swimming pools to relax in with their families after a hard days work. Or a Gym. Those are the things we have provided for them and it has become our cutting-edge unique value proposition.
In the last 18 years, you have 726 units of house…
No, we have done about 1,300 units. We are presently doing about 726 units now. We are at an advanced stage of work at nearly all of them. We are building in phases, so they will be delivered in batches.
What will you call the challenge that you’ve faced over the years?
Finance is one key part of the challenge, From building 4 to 6 to 10 to 20 homes, now, we’re running multiple sites, that are running into hundreds of houses, which is numerous. So, the challenges will always be numerous, like challenges of finance, infrastructural deficits. The fact that you now need to go to areas that are highly underdeveloped or undeveloped. You need to provide your own roads, powerline. You need to run high-tension lines there. You need to provide water. You need to secure your residence. You need to construct road networks in those areas that you are building. Those are major challenges that I wish so much that the Government can do, by living up to its expectations.
Kennedy Okonkwo is a hands-on CEO. You are always on-site, all day in Jeans and T-Shirts, inspecting construction work, with Helmet and reflective jacket. What keeps you going? What keeps you going to the site all the time to make sure that things go as planned?
If you read my story and if you know my background you will know that someone who has spent some months, under the Oba Akran flyover in Ikeja, Lagos can’t end up not succeeding, if he is determined to succeed Coming from that background, I am driven by the need to do more, to ensure that poverty is kicked out of my generation. Why? Because I always liken Poverty to a Cockroach. If you feel you have killed a Cockroach, but it is still not yet dead. So until you are certain that you have killed it, that rodents are eating it up, poverty will always find its way back. How poverty can make a return is when you feel you have done it all and you relax. So, at any point in time, you will always need to keep asking yourself, Ok. What have we done? How can we be better? What can we do differently? How can our tomorrow be better than our yesterday? It is in how we do things. And that is what we strive to do on a regular basis?
Let us talk about the estates that you have been able to do. There was so much talk about Victoria Crest Homes at some point. Has it expanded?
Victoria Crest Homes is one of our subsidiary companies. We have estates that have been built by Victoria Crest Homes. So we now have the Victoria Crest Series. We have the Victoria Bay Series. We have the Victoria Nest Series. We have the Alexandra Terraces.
Under the Victoria Crest Series, I think we have done Phase 1 to Phase 4, whilst in the Victoria Bay Series, we have done Phase 1 to Phase 3. Victoria Nest is on the 1st Phase, whilst Alexandra Terrace is on the 2nd phase. Those are estates that have been built by our sister company called Victoria Crest Homes.