Grace Ofure is an expert in developing purpose-built income spinning real estate market. She also makes affordable luxury a possibility. She is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Lifecard International Investment Company. She has spent 16 years in real estate. She has founded several 9 figure companies from scratch and educated over 1,000 businesses. Widely regarded as one of the ‘go-to’ Real estate investment experts in Africa. Mrs Ofure provides access to income-producing investment opportunities to aspiring and existing investors. She is also an advocate for women to come into real estate.
Sixteen years ago she set up Lifecard International Investment company.
A few weeks back, she spoke to City People ISAAC ABIMBADE (08155107955), about her mission in the sector and why she set up her business after she left her Okirika business. Below are excerpts of the interview.
You are one of the big voices in your sector but lots of people don’t know much about you. Can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Grace Ofure, MD/CEO, Life Card International Investment Company. Life Card Investment Company is an indigenous fast-growing real estate company in Nigeria. What we do is, we give the opportunity to investors for them to have viable investment for now and the future, and most importantly education. Because now there’s a lot of things people need to know and be educated before they go-ahead to invest in real estate. We do a lot in educating people on the right way to invest.
What does your brand really represent and what are the services you render?
We are a real estate development company. We develop multiple housing units for people, business and we also do a bit of land banking where we give opportunities to people in our land bank.
When it comes to real estate, as we all know that real estate is very vast and everybody has this notion that every real estate business is profitable, so because of that we do real estate investment education. We educate people that want to invest in real estate, the best real estate deal they should look at, the one they should run away from. So basically, we teach them the best way to invest. We also have those who want to join the real estate, either they want to be salespeople or any other department. So we teach people how they can be developers
What programme do you have for women?
Yes, We have real estate empowerment for women who want to become developers because we have few women that are developers, so we are championing the course because there is a lot about women; women are very passionate about the things they do and we know that the more women we have in the real estate sector the better for us. So we are teaching women on how they can move from being just a marketer to become developers; owning companies to be able to build more houses and you know we need more houses. We need more women to join us and ensure everybody has a roof over their heads.
How do you convince more women to join you in this course of business?
Media! They saw me on various media and they saw the exploits I’m making; I do free training. We have a University online and we call it Life Card University. It’s purely for real estate courses, whether for sales or development.
What were you doing before real estate because you weren’t known for this in the past?
What actually happened was that, when I graduated from University, I came to Lagos and nobody gave me a job. I started selling ‘Okirika’ (used clothes), and after selling Okirika over 15 years ago and I went into real estate where I was selling properties to people. When I started selling for people I discovered that real estate in Nigeria has a lot of integrity issues, so I braced up to start my own company and we have been doing well locally and internationally. What I came to do is to bring in the integrity factor where developers say this house will be ready today and it will be ready. Where developers say this land has document and it really does have the document, so I was just trying to bridge the gap. I was an investor who saw that was happening and I wanted to come and play a role in real estate and less than two years we have become this big.
What is your biggest challenge as a player in the sector?
Trust. I don’t think there is a problem with money; if you are trustworthy people will give you money. That’s what I have discovered. I can’t say in the last two years I have been stranded, rather a lot of people are trying to push money to me and I don’t want to collect money just from anybody. I just have to be sure of whether the investment will be profitable to them. Everybody wants a home. Everybody wants to buy land, they have just to be sure they are dealing with the right person.
Where do you advise people should buy property in Lagos?
Whether you like it or not, education is very important. It depends on what you want in your real estate investment and somebody who wants to live in a house. So you need to, first of all, understand what you want and you need a bit of education. The first thing you do is to make up your mind about what you want. If it’s for investment, why not, Lekki is good. But if you want to live in a place and you don’t want Lekki for some reason, you know that’s not an investment. I think as a real estate developer we should offer a lot of education.