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How To Make It – Frederick Okpaje: Improving Housing Deficit In Nigeria

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Dr. Frederick Okpaje is the managing director and CEO, PWAN Haven Investment and Realtors Limited, a subsidiary of PWAN Group.

Okpaje founded PWAN Haven four years ago, with the vision of helping many Nigerians own their dream home and tackling unemployment in Nigeria.

Before Okpaje became the CEO of PWAN Haven, he was a real estate agent with PWAN Group, a group that comprises of about 30 active real estate companies.

“PWAN group introduced the network marketing system into the real estate business, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria. We were all marketers. It got to a point that the founding fathers of PWAN decided to empower the marketers like me to start our own real estate companies under the PWAN group. They were very generous. With their help, I founded PWAN Haven which, at the moment, has two subsidiaries,” Okpaje explained.

Real estate business was not the first thing on Okpaje’s mind when growing up. During his youthful age, Okpaje wandered out of Nigeria, like what every young man would do. After many years in the United Kingdom, he decided to come home. “I must tell you that there is no place like home. I didn’t find any fulfillment living abroad,” he revealed.

“When he came back to Nigeria, he started importing leather from Europe into the country. It was in the process of doing his business that he met the founders of PWAN group. “They convinced me, that I can make real money from real estate in Nigeria. I got interested and ventured into it and today I am doing fine,” he said.

With the huge housing deficit in Nigeria, which is estimated to be between 17 and 20 million housing units, Okpaje said, PWAN Haven decided to build houses that even a youth corper can be able to afford.

How? He said: “a youth corper for instance, who has no idea about real estate, can join PWAN Haven, help the company to market their properties and make sells. The reward for doing that is that they will have enough money to take care of themselves and one day, own their property. PWAN Group was the first to pioneer that.

To him, “currently, PWAN Group has more than 200,000 marketers, and majority of them have earned so much money, even built their own houses. PWAN Group, at its 10th year anniversary, gave out 10 houses and PWAN Haven gave out one house.”

With that, Okpaje said, his company has been able to improve employment rate in Nigeria and also ensure that those who are working with him have a home of their own.

He disclosed that PWAN Haven is not a money-driven venture, but rather, people-driven venture. “The pioneers of PWAN Group know what it means to be homeless or paying house rent on a yearly basis, hence the passion to ensure that every Nigerians have a home of their own and that is the same vision with PWAN Haven.

“For instance, a place where we could make N10 million, we don’t mind if we make N100,000 because we believe that the more people that have their own home, the more house deficit gaps we are closing in the housing sector,” he explained.

Okpaje said he would love to help more Nigerians to fulfil their dream of living in their own house, but securing that kind of fund to finance that project is a mere dream in a country like Nigeria.

“As developers, if we use our money to build houses and expect people to pay through mortgage which can take years, we won’t be able to survive in the business. So in order for us to move faster, the banks would need to step in, in form of financial support. We as developers will have enough funds to develop new homes for more Nigerians.

“You can imagine what would happen if government and the banks decided to fund 30 real estate companies! I bet you, the average man in Nigeria, will be able to live in a comfortable home and the housing deficit will drastically reduce. But right now, less than 20 per cent of Nigerians live in their own house. To bridge the gap, the banking sector must step in,” he added.

Okpaje, after completing his primary and secondary school in Nigeria, decided to obtain a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Ulster University, Northern Ireland. He has received several awards in Nigeria and abroad for his outstanding performance over the years.

 

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