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Nigerian architect ‘wole Olabanji believes that everyone deserves a nice home. However, most people in the African country simply can’t afford to buy one. With new platform CoBuildIT, he aims to change this – by bringing people together to collaborate on real estate development projects they would never otherwise have access to.
“The housing deficit in Nigeria is 17 million units. We think this is mainly because housing is simply unaffordable for the majority of Nigerians,” Olabanji tells us. “Our main aim is to help more people (in Nigeria and similar economies that we plan to expand to) acquire housing by providing a simpler, cheaper, better way.”
Leveraging economies of scale, CoBuildIT have calculated they can reduce costs by up to 40 percent and significantly increase home affordability – by cutting out layers of middle men in the procurement value chain and giving greater control to home buyers in making the critical decisions in the development of their project.
“We reverse the typical process for buying housing which is developer-driven to make it more buyer-driven, thereby empowering everyday people. We aggregate demand for housing on our portal and create projects to meet the demand.”
CoBuildIT is essentially a project management service which relies on a platform to connect individuals and the resources they need to build their homes. ‘CoBuilders’ can participate in a project from anywhere in the world, engaging online, in real time, providing input and monitoring the progress of their projects on their personalised dashboard. Users can team up with friends, colleagues or perfect strangers to create projects. The portal offers the full spectrum of opportunities for putting a project together, from purchasing land to buying design prototypes (or having bespoke designs prepared), to arranging bids for selecting contractors and getting the project management service to handhold them through the entire process.
The site has launched with two pilot projects and construction is scheduled to commence early 2017. One is a block of four terrace homes, another a mixed-use development of 20 residential units. Long term, they are focused on developing and improving construction technology and providing low-single-digit mortgages to further increase affordability.
“We believe that our model is intuitive and consistent with the rise of the sharing economy and will therefore become mainstream as an effective way to acquire housing.”
Known as ‘Nigeria’s original startup city’, Abuja is also home to Olabanji’s latest design, Ventures Platform. Built out of repurposed containers, it’s the first full service tech innovation hub providing incubatory, residential and co-working spaces for startups solving the most challenging problems on the African continent.
Olabanji has invested over a decade in the housing development sector. He has sat on different sides of the table; as developer, financier and project manager, contributing to the realisation of several real estate schemes across Nigeria.
'wole Olabanji, CEO
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