Ms. Abiola Adewoye is the CEO of Havilah Properties and Consultant, a company dealing in real estate agency, property management, property consultancy and property development, located in Ibadan, the largest city in West Africa and the second largest in Africa. In this interview with DEBORAH OMOARE, she talks about how she handled challenges in the business, including how she copes in the competitive business atmosphere in Ibadan.
How did you get into this business?
By the Grace of God, my husband had this vision for this business and at that time I was working with an insurance brokerage company. When he told me about the business, I was not willing to support him at the time, but then he made me realize that God was leading him into the business, so he had to support it.
What were the challenges you saw when starting out?
Many problems were faced at the start, ranging from transportation issues, we did not have vehicles to transport blocks to the customer site. Later, God fixed it and we got a truck. We also had problems with the operators, the ones that are producing the blocks, because they are not permanent staff, they can decide not to come on a particular day without informing us. And at first, we thought, how could people behave like this, without being consistent? But then when we realized how many of them were there, we handled the situation and it’s not a problem now and the workers we currently have are a bit stable.
What do you do at Havilah Properties and Consultant?
Havilah properties and consultant is a real estate company that deals with buying, selling, managing, marketing and investing in land and property.
What is your overview of real estate?
For me, real estate is a good investment that offers more returns. However, there must be adequate knowledge of what one is venturing into.
What are the challenges you have encountered so far?
We are faced with outrageous value being placed on properties by the owner, whether through sale or rental, and often find ourselves on the receiving end because we are brokers. The potential client often feels that the property manager placed too much value on a property, while the property owner determines the value. The property owner should endeavor to value his property before setting the price.
Another challenge they face is some bad eggs that reflect badly on the good property manager and therefore cause stakeholders to lose trust in the profession. There should be a measure to reduce these excesses.
What do you do differently in the humid real estate space?
Marketing land and property in wetlands is often not the same as property on flat land. Properties on flat land move faster than on wetlands, but there are few prospects whose choice or specification is wetlands.
Right now, the business environment is highly competitive in Ibadan, how do you deal with it?
Although the environment is competitive, we find grace and are excelling. Genuine is our priority and so far so good. We only deal with genuine companies and that has made us enjoy referrals. God has been the main plug and our strength.
As a woman, what has it been like working in this field, getting jobs and managing your workers?
Being a woman working among men has been a chore because from the moment I decided to work in this field, I knew I had to be ready to pay the price. On the other hand, my workers are sent by God. They are cooperative and supportive. In everything God is the right reason why we have good stories to tell.