“One thing I encourage young kids and girls is by letting them know that you are not defined by where you come from, though it can only define you if you allow it to. I grew up in an area that had drugs being sold all around me but I have never smoked or tried them.”
Meet this young, energetic, determined, focused and hardworking young woman who is making landmark in the real estate sector which has been dominated for long by men: her name is Angelica Wambui , the Superior Homes Kenya Sales Manager.
In the African home, women are much sidelined, undermined and even some places they are believed to belong in the household activities, but in the recent trend and more advocacies for women and girls empowerment, we have seen women rising to higher position and even becoming challenge to men if not threat. Though the progress, this achievement doesn’t come that easily. To motivate the young kids and girls in our society, please kindly share with us about yourself, profession background and the hardwork that made you who you are today.
I grew up in Eastlands, went to St. Annes Primary School and then later joined Jomo Kenyatta High School form 1 and 2 before my mum shipped back to Uhuru Secondary School from form 3 and 4.
After school, I did a sales job in a company that used to supply milk of which, in between I managed to attend college for the ABE: Diploma Marketing.
One thing I encourage young kids and girls is by letting them know that you are not defined by where you come from, though it can only define you if you allow it to. I grew up in an area that had drugs being sold all around me but I have never smoked or tried them. It’s also wise to find out your strengths and what you are passionate about early in life because then you become more focused in what you do.
The other one thing that the current young people are not keen on is working hard; you have to work hard in everything you do. You cannot give your employer/job 50% and expect 100% returns. The “get rich mentality” will not work. You need to invest time, energy and grow progressively: that way you appreciate everything you get as well to train and motivate others. When I joined my current employer, I was employed as an office manager, but due to hardwork and willingness to accept new challenges and learn, my Directors were happy and today I head the Sales office.
What are the milestones achieved so far, in relation to being a pioneer on the gated community concept in the country and the impact this concept has had on the industry?
The fact remains that when we were selling the concept at first, it did not look like it would be accepted in a place where today every developer is selling the gated concept. At Greenpark, the concept has been well embraced and the residents are keeping to the agreed Deed of Covenants.
Be consistent with the quality of your product. Take both positive and negative criticism and improve on the product. Also, sell a product that you have faith in and believe in.
The real estate sector in Kenya has shown commendable growth over the years how has SHK positioned itself in response to the demand that has been created by an expanding middle class with ability to service their loans or mortgages?
Improving on the product, we have continuously upgraded our houses as per the feedback we receive from the client. Also we have put together different house types that meet different needs and budgets as well as innovation of different ideas for instance the “Try Before You Buy concept” (TBYB) and recently the “Buy Over Long Term” (BOLT).
How is your fixed rate scheme different from normal mortgage?
The Buy over Long Term (BOLT) model is quite different from the normal mortgages. You select a house type of choice and we give you the purchase price. You put a down payment of 20% and the balance is payable within the agreed period of time: usually between 1-3 years.
We also have another unique advantage where in case you withdraw, you are refunded the money you have put down for example if you choose the payment model of 3 years and in year two your financial situation changes and you withdraw, then we will refund you what you have paid without any deduction. Also, since the inflation cost has been considered, the price will remain as agreed even if the interest rates go up or cost of materials change.
It is common knowledge that the buyer is king and holds all the cards in today’s Kenyan property sector. How do you ensure that your customer’s needs are taken care of?
One is the fact that we have a product that is beautiful. Our show houses and the houses we built are the same if not better. That means the client will not feel shortchanged. We also accommodate some finishing changes that the client might want especially when the house is still under construction; this allows the client to kind of custom make their house.
What is the role of property management in real estate growth?
The companies mandate is to ensure that the Deed of Covenants is adhered to. The company also collects Service Charge and maintains the estate. SHK from conception wanted to build a community that is sustainable. A management company for the current project was registered under the name GEMS Management Company.
You as the head of SHK marketing department, what strategies have you put in place to offset the increasing competition from commercial banks and telecoms for a share of the property business?
Superior Homes Kenya (SHK) of course continues to maintain quality. With the different house types ranging from 9.5M, we have ensured that we cater for a bigger market. We are also venturing into other counties.
What role has your company played in the formulation of high property strategies and measures aimed at reducing the slums and replacing them with well planned, low cost housing units?
The directors of SHK have been passionate about building low cost housing. With the opening up of counties, it’s a proposal we would look to consider when the doors are opened. If well planned with the counties and national government, low cost housing is achievable.
The Housing Development Policy highlights the importance of housing as both an investment and a positive economic development and poverty reduction measure. How have you incorporated its recommendation in your operations?
Many people take owning a home as one of the most important achievements in life. Us SHK, we have endeavored to provide a development of housing that is functional, healthy, aesthetically pleasant and environmentally friendly to the clients. The continued increase in our homes has made sure that the clients gain value for their houses thus a good investment.
The National Social Economic Council (NSEC) recommended the re-engineering of the Kenyan Housing market so that the country’s annual housing production reaches 145,000 units per year come 2030. What is your take on this? Is it achievable?
With the government providing investor friendly terms, it’s possible. Also with the growth of counties; it means that there will be more jobs in the county governments hence urban areas will not be overly populated. The infrastructure improvements and growth also play a major role. The bank interest rates are also a key factor in one owning a home and we do hope we can have interest rates going down.
In what way has SHK invested in human resource to ensure customer satisfaction?
We have ensured improvement of the working conditions for construction workers including safety, general working environment and wages. We have ensured each employee knows their value in the company and the work they do thus ensuring there is quality production right from the foundations to the finishing of the houses thus ensuring the clients are satisfied with the end product.
What do you think needs to be done to ensure a more robust real estate sector in Kenya in particular and the African region in general?
They is need of more forums where real estate developers can meet and exchange ideas in a Platform that enhances engagement with respective authorities. In Kenya we have the Kenya Property Developers Association of which SHK are members. They are able to plan sessions where we discuss matters affecting the real estate and also present challenges being faced to the government, but still this is not enough. More needs to be done.
Anything more, unique you would like to add that would give value in positioning Superior Homes as the Homes provider of choice?
SHK vision is To become the largest and the most respected and trusted provider of new houses in East Africa while engaging positively and to the mutual benefit of customers, staff, contractors, suppliers and the wider community. Our development of Greenpark is a testimony of hard work in the team from the MD, the management to the masons at the site. Currently we have over 400 houses complete, 2 schools and a Sundowner club house. Today we are creating a community as we look to replica this model in other counties in future.