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Nigerians must see home ownership as a journey by adopting viable models – Onwumere

Nigerians must see home ownership as a journey by adopting viable models – Onwumere

Jayne Obioma Onwumere is the group president and chief executive officer of the Property World Africa Network (PWAN) Group. She emphasised the need for Nigerians to take home ownership as a journey by embracing viable models that meet their financial status over the years. Excerpts by SEYI JOHN SALAU:

Over the years PWAN has been able to show leadership through various sales strategies, how has it sustained its market share in the sector?

We want to go all over the world; our team for the 10th year convention is ‘one world one network’. So, we want to begin to replicate what we have done in Nigeria, in other countries. Before the eleventh year of PWAN, our plan is to have PWAN in five states in America, because America has a lot of Nigerians. We have the state of Houston, Atlanta, New York, Maryland and then Los Angeles. Then we also want to put up PWAN in Dubai, UK, Canada and African countries like South Africa, Ghana and so on. That’s our plan for the next one year to have centres in all these places. We have already gotten one in Houston and we have now in Ghana and before the end of this month, the one at Dubai would be set up for operations. It is actually going to be faster than it was before, so that is the plan.

How do you manage to control over 30000 workers under the PWAN group and yet still focused on achieving the vision making home ownership a reality across the globe?

I’m not the only one here; you saw some people here as everybody is doing their small bit to drive the vision. Even the cleaner in the office is doing her own work, I don’t do the cleaning somebody does; so, the office is ready for use because the cleaner does his or her cleaning. The Driver drives the Vehicles to move people from one place to the other; everybody is doing their own so the will is moving because everybody is doing their little bit to get it on. It is not only me; I can’t take any credit. We believe in the power of team work in PWAN, everyone matters within the organisation ecosystem.

We have a staff strength of over 1200 people now and we are still growing as a people. Last week we had a nationwide road storm in over 20 states in Nigeria and everybody was busy, everybody from Zamfara, Kano, Taraba, Abuja, the whole South East state, the whole South South, South West state everybody was busy and I’m not in those places but people are there doing what they have to do to make things move forward.

There is a monthly program we do called Success Summit. Every month we do that. So, after those road-storms in those days everybody joined the Headquarters for the Success Summit. Some joined in Ikorodu where we held the event, some joined Online in the various states in Nigeria and like I said we get busy throughout Nigeria and it is going to get better and busier than this, because we just did the first one. Normally we just do a Summit in Lagos but this time, we decided to try all over and by next three month it will be better. This month it is being held in Abuja, next month it will be in Enugu and then back to Lagos in December. It is really huge.

Yes, it has not always been easy but I want to say that God has been there to make it easier. We are able to do as much as we have done because the Holy Spirit is there with us. At times, it is very tiring, you get worried, frustrated, you just keep going and the moment you get up to keep going, strength comes again and you are able to do more.

Read also: Why we’re creating business enabling environment in Ondo — Akeredolu

One of the game-changers in the industry is Multi-level Marketing (MLM), for which many say has transformed the Nigerian real estate industry; how true is this?

I created the first Real Estate Multi Level Marketing Company in the world, the very first. Today anybody, ordinary people can do real estate because of that model; the real estate network marketing business model. A lot of people who never thought they could be in real estate are in real estate today because of that model.

There have never been more people in real estate in Nigeria than we have today because of that model. It is a model that enables people to share instead of one person taking away everything, it is shared that several people would benefit from it and we say that is the hedgehog for PWAN group. That is the most important thing in our program and today, everybody is copying it, everybody is using that Model. And that is good.

But when I created it more than ten years ago, the business really took off ten years ago. That was out of urgent need because my husband and I were homeless for two and half years and in those two and half years we lived in 13 different places moving from place to the other and just that little addition to real estate changed the industry. Revolutionised the industry till today.

With the way the Nigerian real estate sector has grown over the years; how has competition in the sector affected PWAN and by extension other operators?

That is what life is all about. Everybody must benefit from a good thing. If nobody is doing it, it is not a good thing. I remember pure water started with one person who thought of making the nylon water that is tied neater and pure water came. There are a lot of people doing it today. Though one person cannot meet the needs of people, you can make a difference for some people but somebody has to make a difference for others. If something is a problem not only one person can solve it, several people are needed in it and the truth of the matter is that it does not have to be your own company.

We have also been able to rise up to competition, when the competition was most stiff, we started creating affiliate companies instead of just focusing on PWAN homes alone. We started creating other companies in partnership with PBOs that work with us. So far, we have coped. When issues arise in the future the Holy Spirit will tell us what to do and we rise to that occasion because there will always be issues. As I’m speaking to you, somebody is starting real estate so there will always be competition. It can be somebody you trained and you should expect it because that is what life is all about.

What is your opinion on home ownership in Nigeria?

It is a great desire and a great need in the Country. The good news is that with a little amount one can start his or her home ownership journey. It is a journey because a small amount will not give one a home but one can start. What is bad is not starting because assuming I come to you and say, if you can do this in five years time you could become a homeowner. Now, the choice of doing that is left to you. One thing is certain, five years will come and pass but whether you will achieve that purpose in five years or not depends on you. It is not rocket science and it is equally not easy but the most important thing is to start. There is no amount you cannot start with in our company because we believe that homeownership should be made possible for everybody across the globe.

What other key models should the community be expecting from PWAN for those who want to start the journey towards homeownership?

We also use the regular marketing model, we do. People work into us directly and they buy, people come in through our people and they buy. So, we also use the regular model in building the business. I am working on something that will make Home Ownership even easier but that will be unfolded when it is ready.

After being in the business for over 10years; what are the challenges PWAN has had to endure in the industry?

Of course, there are so many challenges. If there are no challenges we will not be in business. There are challenges, always. In Lagos state, contending with the ‘Omoniiles’, in the East for instance, there are family owners who want big money for lands before you can start selling and you also contend with the hazards of every environment where and also with Staff. You have to continue, talk, push, prod, encourage, and reprimand to get the best out of the people you are with.

How have you been able to contend with necessary regulations that made the Lagos State government to recognize you among the Eko 100 Women in the recently celebrated world international women day?

We are registered with the Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA) and attend stakeholder’s meetings to share our views and to listen to the views of others. In Lagos here, th Government is working hard to make Real Estate practice more organised. As for the Recognition, I am very grateful. We have done a lot to empower people but the Recognition is a great privilege for which I am most grateful.

Finally, for the benefit of those reading us, who is the woman behind these giant strides?

My name is Jane Onwumere, married to Mr Augustine Onwumere. I had a long period of homelessness that drives what I do. I may not be homeless today but there are still millions of people who are. That is why, the vision of PWAN (Property World Africa Network) is to make the home ownership dream a reality for as many people as possible. Not just in Nigeria they are homeless people everywhere, we also want to empower people. So, everything we do in PWAN falls into these categories to empower people and to create a platform where people can one day begin to access and afford homes, that is what has been driving me.

I was the first Managing Director of PWAN, in fact the first staff of PWAN but over the years many others have come into the Organisation. Today we have over 40 Affiliate companies; these are companies partnering with PWAN homes to push the vision forward. All of us are doing the same thing and all of us are focused on achieving the vision. Today we also have several independent marketers that we call PWAN-business owners all over the place.

We are represented in the 36 states of Nigeria today including Abuja today, everywhere we have an office. Some are not yet fully staffed but before the end of July they will all be staffed and in the process of time we will begin to buy properties in those places, it could be a few plots in the beginning and then it will grow to be able to meet these needs.