The real estate sector of Nigeria is one that is still evolving. Just like every aspect of the Nigerian society, it is a sector that is faced with a lot of challenges, due to the uncertain economic environment . Notwithstanding the many challenges in this sector, one man has been able to ‘breezing through the tide’ by delivering first class affordable service in real estate for her teeming customers and Nigerians in particular. With his calm, quiet, gentlemanly demeanor and critical thoughtfulness, Mr. Uchenna Benjamin Odunzeh, the MD/CEO of EUC HOMES, is gradually becoming a major player in the real estate sector with over two years of experience.
As a part of celebrating her two years in the business, EUC HOMES recently launched a mobile application that allows her prospective customers to own real estate simply by downloading and using the application. Face of Africa International Magazine was at the launch and now brings you an exclusive interview with the brain behind it all.
Tell us about EUC homes.
EUC homes is a real estate company. We own a vast amount of lands and properties that we sell to our customers. We have integrity as our sales-slogan. We have seasoned marketers that market our products. Most of our landed properties are in the Ibeju Lekki local government area, the free trade zone. We are also part of the Oworonshoki Waterfront Reclamation. It which is one of our recent project.
What factors made you go into real estate business?
Well, real estate is a very important sector in Nigeria and being someone who had studied economics, I have always wanted to carve a niche in the real estate sector. Real estate is an industry that is very fruitful in Nigeria as far as I can say and that’s part of the reason why I ventured into the business as a way of being economically stable.
You just mentioned the free trade zone, what are the specifics and advantages of the free trade zone?
Again, like I said, the free trade zone going by its name is a place where you can do business with free taxation. It is a place that business establishment can do business, provide services to customers without having to pay huge amount of tax. And what does that tell you? In essence it becomes a way of attracting foreign investments and that I believe is the fundamental reason for the establishment of free trade zones.
(…… Cuts in……) But has any work began there?
Of course, the Chinese are doing a lot of work there. The Lagos state government also have been promoting a lot of jobs there. The Governor is doing a fantastic job as well as other private investors in real estate.
What has been you’re your greatest challenge since you started running your business?
Like in every business, I must say there are challenges but the biggest challenge of course is being able to stay in business in Nigeria. It is (quiet) quite tough and the instability of the economy tends to disrupt a lot of businesses. The economy often tends not to be stable. It just got stabilized and you can have a lot of influx of other players coming in and again the flood happened. Most times when you have supply being more than the demand, it could be tough, and especially like I said in real estate, this is one of those industries that even a nurse, doctor or a driver always has interest in. And it is also a very competitive sector.
What keeps you going despite the challenges in your line of business?
Laughs…. Well I wouldn’t really want to reveal a lot of business secrets but notwithstanding, I would say perseverance, endurance and integrity, which is borne out of being able to deliver when you say you are going to. Having the right approach to the job. Going out each day, engaging your customers, engaging the marketers and the subscribers; people that are going to end up living in your estate being that we are building the estate from the scratch and also engaging the government as well while pretty much staying on top of your game.
How affordable are your payment plans for average Nigerians?
We have very affordable plans for all our customers. We have houses that goes for an affordable price of 1.8 million naira, this particular package is already sold out. We have a four hundred square meter land package that sells for eight hundred thousand naira, we have another for one million naira for (a) six hundred square meters, we have another for two million for four hundred square meters. We have a payment plan for six months spreads, five months spreads and even a payment plan spread across up to twenty-four months. As a result of the spread, any class of person in the society in need of a real estate can afford to get one.
How has the response been so far from Nigerians and prospective customers towards this?
So far, it’s been amazing because we have a lot of Nigerians, not just locally but those also in the diaspora that want to key into real estate here in Nigeria being that it is an exploding economy and sector. All we just need to do is maximize our potentials here in Nigeria, by taking it to greater heights.
What has been your relationship with the people of Ibeju Lekki area, especially with his royal majesty, the Onibeju of Ibeju Lekki?
His royal majesty, Oba Rafiu Salami, the Onibeju of Ibeju land is a fantastic individual. He has been a great father figure and also a mentor figure to me. He is an intelligent person, very eloquent and well-schooled and I really applaud him for what he has done for his people. I believe that his support and assurance to the government made possible the fantastic development to the area. As a result, we appreciate him for what he has done and I believe we have a very strong relationship.
What do you think is the future of real estate in Nigeria and in Africa generally?
Well I would say that real estate is the future here in Nigeria because we have to build up the nation. In 35 short years, the United States became the largest economy in the world. The only way you build an economy is by raising the skies. You have to raise the skies because when you raise the skies, people would want to come and see those skies just like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, they raised the skies. When you raise the skies by building high rises, mass buildings in multiple stages, not just one, it leads to an inter-city development series in Nigeria. If we are able to accomplish that, we will witness a lot of foreign investments and foreigners flooding the streets comfortably and they would start to consider Nigeria their home….
(….. Cuts in ….} Do we see ourselves getting there?
Of course, the only thing is that the people must have to accept that. I sincerely believe that we are already getting there with the strong Eco-Atlantic project and also the recently commissioned Oworonshoki waterfront project, which EUC is a part. We have our own portion in that area which we are also sand- filling with private partners. Once these ambitious projects of such nature are accomplished, you will see that other states will be challenged to engage in such projects as well and the moment you see that, it attracts foreign investors which ultimately affects the economy of the country.
What has been your biggest accomplishments so far?
Well, I believe that being able to manage a stable company while also building a strong brand in the process within a short period of time counts as my achievement so far. I will also point out that being able to affect the economy through my company which has over seventeen thousand real estate marketers worldwide is also an accomplishment I cherish so much. We have been able to achieve all these in just two years of being in the real estate business.
What should we expect from EUC in the years to come?
Well, expect EUC to be probably a very well-known brand in Africa God willing, globally too
What is your advice to Nigerians in diaspora who are scared of investing in the real estate business back home in Nigeria?
What I would advise them is that I was once in diaspora and I have always believed that investing in real estate back home in my country was very gainful. I must confess that it was the profit from the real estate that I invested in Nigeria that I used to establish EUC HOMES. I am not saying that my experience would be the same with every other person, however, the point is that it is always good to invest in real estate in a developing economy.
Can you kindly tell us about EUC foundation?
EUC foundation is a nonprofit foundation founded by EUC homes limited and EUC services limited geared at helping the homeless through feeding them and also empowering them and their kids as well in schools. Usually we go out basically to feed the homeless. About a month ago we went to golden gate school towards the Oshodi area and we gave out gifts to the students there. So basically, through the EUC foundation, we try to give back the little way we can to the society we live in.
With your ever-busy schedule, how have you been able to manage your business and your home?
I must commend my wife and my two kids for their great support. Also, my other family which is made up of my parents and my siblings who despite being so busy with their lives have always found a way of supporting me as we always keep in touch.
What would be your advice to teeming Nigerian youths out there?
My advice would be, do not always think about what your government can do for you, and always think about what you can do for your government.
(……. Cuts in……..) How can that be achieved?
By critical thinking, which is when you stand out and take your time in researching and reading a lot. Also by being able to create or duplicate that which is positive, that is critical thinking.