Dr Frederick Okpaje is the Managing Director of PWAN Haven, an affiliate company of PWAN Group. Presently, PWAN Haven is one of the most promising real estate firms in Lagos. The firm is just 2 years in the sector, but has done a lot in the area of land acquisition, sales, and maintenance of properties. This firm is gradually getting attraction of clients, both in Nigeria and beyond. It has allocated hundreds of plots to subscribers in the last few years and this couldn’t be achieved without the initiation and experience of the MD; somebody who has spent almost all his life in the business world.
Dr. Frederick has received several award in Nigeria and abroad for his examplenary performance over the years. Few years ago, after many years in the UK, he came back to Nigeria to float a real estate company, PWAN Haven, a company that has been positioned to solve Nigerian housing challenges, that was when he went to PWAN Group to form a formidable team with them. Few weeks back, he spoke to City People Senior Reporter, ISAAC ABIMBADE about his foray into real estate. Excerpts.
Can you tell us the relationship between PWAN Homes and PWAN Haven; your company?
Thank you very much. The relationship is that, we are a conglomerate: PWAN Haven is the subbsidiary of PWAN Group. That is how we relate.
How did you form your company from PWAN Group. Did you have any agreement or you met with the mangement of PWAN Group before you set up PWAN Haven?
I am not related to the owner. I actually met him (Chairman), and we all came to terms, and that was around 2017. We agreed that we should come together. (PWAN) Haven is mine and (PWAN) Homes is theirs. So, it’s like a Franchise. We came together to form this partnership; it’s a 50/50 venture.
When you started off, did you have to meet them to provide you land and all that?
Yes. Before I came on board, after we agreed, they have already gotten a property for me to start with. Both the finance and everything was set up for me to start in such a way that I don’t have to really stress myself. They prepared the ground because they had already in it before I came onboard.
How did you see the real estate sector before you came in?
Sincerely speaking, before it was much more tasking. The challenge was the authenticity of land, then the trust from the clients. These were two key issues. And the reason being is that, you have a lot of people who are in the industry faking it just for the financial gain, so the people we came with good intent were a bit struggling, but systematically is being changed now because some of us who came onboard will like to do it sincerely and because of the integrity will bring into it, it kind of chivying out those bad eggs, and a bit of trust is being given to us.
Tell us some of your incentives that attracts you to your clients?
I think it’s only God that can really say what it’s attracting them to us. How much incentive can you give to someone who is partying away his money. It was too difficult for me to start my business, but because I have some good friends; friends who can trust me, so that opened the door for me easily, and also the legacy of the PWAN Group, also help.
Can you tell us some of the challenges real estate players face while doing your jobs?
Government should release documents. I can say Lagos State is being develop by real estate developers, and this lack of documentation has slow down development. So my appeal to them is that, when they see the genuine document being requested for, they should approve them easily, that will enhance us to develop the state faster.
Tell us more about yourself before you went into real estate?
Professionally, I am an Electrical Engineer. I worked for about 17 years with an Oil Company, I left there to do business of my own. We were the first set of people to bring phone into this country. We were supplying MTN, ECONET. Later, I sojourned out of the country for 12 years and later I thought I should come back to Nigeria. Three things I mapped out: whether to take a job, do business or going into politics. But I don’t have heart for politics, and that is why I went into business and here we are today.
How can you describe the achievement of PWAN Haven in the last few years in the business?
It’s wow for me, because of the level we found ourselves. If you come to our office, you will think, we have been in business for the past 10 years, but we are just about 2 years and that is to tell you God have been faithful to us.
What has been one thing that set you aside from other real estate players?
I think humility; people say humility. I am a people’s person. When you came in now there is no way you won’t like me.
How long does it take your company to allocate?
Depending on the terrain and also the agreement you have with the family because some of the estates are in billions and we don’t have such fund. The banks are not willing to lend money in Nigeria, because the percentage is very high. So we strike a deal with the families to atleast allow us to pay instalmentally. So, until we finish payment, we can’t really take possession of the entire land, but we are doing our best to allocate immediately.
What should we be expecting from PWAN Haven in five years time?
My dream or my vision is development, it is one of the core values in my business plan I have it there that, Phase 1 buy the property (land), and Phase 2 is development; where I can start developing for clients.