Community, Diaspora and Immigration
Kenya: Attracting diaspora investors
The growth of Kenya’s real estate market has brought with it great business opportunities with attractive monetary gains.
From “mama uji” who ensures that construction workers enjoy their favourite meals at affordable prices to the estate agent who makes sure that the developer’s property is well-managed, nearly everyone is almost guaranteed a piece of the real estate cake if they care to look hard enough.
For marketers, a great opportunity has emerged in organising homes expos, which is now all the rage in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and other major towns around the country.
An interesting development in this regard is a recent announcement by a local real estate firm that it is planning to hold a homes expo in America’s New York City next month.
Kings Pride says the expo is targeting Kenyans in the diaspora keen on owning property back home. The firm’s director Karanja Karau, says his company has entered into a joint venture with local banks to help Kenyan investors in the diaspora access mortgages.
In a television interview at the weekend, Karau said the expo will not be a one-off event. “Our plan is to reach all Kenyans in the diaspora and showcase to them the investment opportunities back home,” he said, indicating that they plan to hold such expos in major cities of the world with sizeable Kenyan populations.
This, I must say, is a welcome idea that will go along way in alleviating some of the heartbreaks many Kenyans in the diaspora have had to go through while seeking to put their money in investment opportunities in the country.
A number of them have been duped and fleeced by even relatives whenever they send money for investment. This has partly contributed to the rise in the number of individuals and firms that specialise in helping Kenyans abroad invest safely back in the country.
But for the diaspora expo and other efforts to succeed, champions like Karau need to bear a few things in mind. Allow me to stand on the shoulders of Protus Nyamweya, a recent returnee from the United States, to suggest what must be done to attract diaspora dollars into the property market. He is also the CEO of Proam Group — a Nairobi-based real estate firm with a keen eye on the Kenyan diaspora market.
According to Nyamweya, anyone who is keen on attracting diaspora direct investment into Kenya must guarantee the investor of the investment.
“The number one fear of a diaspora investor is being ripped off by property developers, agents, banks, and relatives. Those who want them to invest back home must, therefore, guarantee that they will not be conned,” says Nyamweya.
He also suggests sensitisation of Kenyans in the diaspora on the investment opportunities and the avenues to follow when investing in the country, especially in real estate, which is fraught with “mine fields”.
This is perhaps why Kings Pride expo is going to be important. However, this will only be helpful if the exhibitors and other players are genuine. Nyamweya also suggests partnerships where Kenya’s real estate players can do direct marketing through registered representatives in the diaspora. This will work well if the information provided is up-to-date.
But more importantly, he says, the transaction process should be electronic-based so that signing of documents and payment can be done online.
He also cautions real estate companies or agents against being “so maximum profit-driven.”
By this, he means that big players should consider uplifting the young agents and small brokers by giving them opportunities, where they deserve, to get business from Kenyans in the diaspora.