Featured by Forbes Africa, honored as the most aspiring business woman of the year and listed as one of the most influential women in Nigeria, Ruth Obih explains how she is revolutionalizing the real estate industry in West Africa.
According to Knight Frank’s Africa Report 2015, the population of Africa will quadruple to over 4 billion by 2100. Do you see more international investment coming in due to attractiveness of the continent’s economic and demographic growth?
Ruth: We all know the famous phrase “the world is your oyster”. They also say that Africa is an oyster. Every challenge here poses a great opportunity. Look at the digital disruption that is creating a huge market for industrial real estate sub sector. Recognizing major drivers as being demographics and rapid urbanization, yes we see an influx of foreign investors. Most of my daily activities include conference calls or travelling to meet with investors who are at an inquiry stage.
The growth of the African economy in the last 10 years has been unprecedented and from the projected rise in population, it is a no-brainer that businesses will start to make in-roads into the African market. The rise in population represent amongst other things, a large market for trade and cheaper workforce. Add to this, the availability of natural resources for export and the manufacturing of certain goods and commodities, it’s not hard to imagine Africa becoming an industrial giant in the foreseeable future.
A few years ago you created the advocacy platform 3invest Intelligence and the first syndicate real estate radio talk show, “3invest ON AIR” dedicated to real estate professionals. Can you tell us more about this? How did you come up with this idea?
Between 2009 and 2012, the Sub Saharan Africa real estate market became extremely low on consumer trust, lacking the vital data needed to make informed investment decisions. 3Invest took cognizance of this gap and created a real estate advocacy centre to fill the gap, empower the consumer, remold perception, encourage excellence, and globalize local brands.
The idea was conceived out of the zeal to provide solutions to prevalent problems in a sector I was a player in. Upon establishing 3invest in 2007 there were a myriad of challenges hounding the sector – ranging from policy formulation and accessibility of information to best practices.
We made a conscious effort to tackle these problems but it wasn’t until way into the task of trying to fix these problems that it occurred to us that our activities were tending more towards advocacy than the actual brokerage that we set out to engage in. It was this realization that led to the restructuring of the company and its business model.
The result of this sacrifice on our part, includes the multiple awards achieved by myself and the company as a whole, as well as the various milestones we’ve been able to attain thus far. Milestones such as owning Nigeria’s only syndicated real estate radio program and Nigeria’s premiere online information portal dedicated to the real estate sector.