Kelly Nwogu: Turning Ambition To Billions
For most Nigerians, optimism and daydreams are an ever-present occurrence and the average Nigerian owns numerous mansions in the sky but very few people have been able to actualize their fantasies in the real world and bring their ideas to life.
One of the few aforementioned Nigerian Dream Chasers is Kelly Nwogu, a real estate mogul, CEO of Livelihood Homes and a self-made billionaire from very humble beginnings. The serial entrepreneur whose niche market is real estate and property management had the dream of providing affordable homes and properties at the tender age of five after his family was kicked out of their home for failure to pay rent.
“I saw my father and mother being thrown out of our house because we were owing and I was five years old. I said to myself when I grow up, I’m going to provide homes for people.
It was this experience that fueled him to dive into the highly competitive real estate market in 2010 with thirty thousand naira capital. Nine years later, Dr. Nwogu has an estimated net worth of 18.6 billion Naira.
Before the SUV convoys and private jet trips, Nwogu led a very rudimentary life as he was an independent home lesson teacher who would round up children in the neighbourhood and hold makeshift lessons for them in exchange for small payments or nothing at all.
“I would go from house to house picking up children for lessons and they would pay me stipends like fifty naira, forty naira, thirty naira. Some would even come empty-handed but I would teach them regardless.”
At the end of each day, a young Kelly Nwogu would calculate how much he had made for the day and discipline himself to save.
People who are familiar with Nwogu’s story know of his thirty thousand naira start-up but unbeknownst to most, the money was deposited by three different women who were the mothers of some the children he was tutoring.
Nwogu subsequently used this money to make a very daring investment which he identifies to be his first major milestone.
“I bought 10 acres of land worth three million naira and I made a deposit of thirty thousand naira to balance up two million, nine hundred and seventy thousand naira.” “It was a ridiculous deposit but that was all I needed to start my business.”
He recounts how difficult it was to conduct business seeing that he had no office nor the means to acquire one for himself. To reassure clients, he convinced his lawyer to put down his own office address and his [Nwogu’s] phone number as the point of contact for clients.
“I spoke with my lawyer and told him that since he would be handling all the land agreements that come to the company, we might as put his office address down so clients know where to come for their documents.”
Prior to diving headfirst into real estate, Dr Nwogu was a textbook definition of an underdog determined to make it. He had tried his hands in many small scale businesses ranging from selling dolls and children toys to selling CDs and movie discs on the street and preparing snacks and pastries among other hustles.
He eventually realized he had to stop working hard and start working smart.
“I sold CDs in traffic and I ran after cars selling musical discs and DVDs but eventually when I came into real estate, I realized that if I invested the same time and energy I used to run after cars in this business I would definitely succeed.”
When his business entity was finally established, it was called “Livelihood Concepts” and by 2012 it was renamed Livelihood Homes Limited.
Grab a copy of today’s Guardian Newspaper to read the full interview in LIFE Magazine.
Tip: LIFE is an insert in the Sunday edition of The Guardian Newspaper.