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.
Dr Nwogu credits his success in part to inspiration from the richest man in Africa Aliko Dangote because his story challenged him and gave him the reassurance that “if Dangote can do this, I can do even better.”
Another great source of motivation for him was Pastor Sam Adeyemi of Daystar Christian Centre. He was so enthused by his teachings that he went on to borrow a book authored by the pastor titled “Start With What You Have.”
Citing a quote by Sam Adeyemi, Dr Nwogu recites passionately, “Bite more than you can chew then believe God to help you chew.”
The Hard Truth
Although Nwogu is an evidently religious man, he doesn’t deny the harsh realities of life and the stark truth that no mystical being would do for you the little things you are expected to do for yourself.
“God is not going to buy travel ticket for you, God is not going to farm for you, God is not going to invest for you.”
Rather than crediting his success to luck, he explains that he had to discipline himself and make tough choices in order to shape his life and increase his value financially and otherwise.
“Waking up early, working late, saving and investing are principles that brought me this far because I know how to save my money, I know how to invest and I also believe in giving to those in need.”
Providing Housing Solutions
Nwogu upholds a high ethical standard when it came to conducting business and selling of landed properties. This includes finding adequate landed properties at affordable prices and acquiring or reselling to clients.
“My job is to go source for locations where we could get lands at discounted prices so we get the land in large expanse as acres then we divide them into plots, we do the layout and perimeter fencing then we start selling them at ridiculously cheap prices.”
“Our lands go for as low as one hundred and fifty-thousand-naira in Ogun State, we also have in Ikorodu selling for four hundred thousand naira per plot, in Badagry, Ibeju Lekki, Ajah and other peak locations nationwide including one at Port Harcourt national airport called The Villa.”
“I will not give an allocation of land to a customer when I know I am still paying for the land.” “If I have one thousand plots of land that I am paying for in instalments and I have only successfully paid for one hundred plots of land, it is within that one hundred that I will allocate.”
Asides from being a real estate mogul, Nwogu describes himself as a global investor. He is also actively trying to bring in foreign investors and drum up business for different sectors of the Nigerian economy.
“I am a global investor and all I do is identify needs and find a way to satisfy those needs.” “I do my best to bring foreign investors into Nigeria to see opportunities. Right now, I’m having a world tour marketing real estate and agriculture at the same time.”
Nwogu is fully aware of Nigeria’s potential as a country and even more aware that the youth of Africa need to take deliberate steps towards achieving their desired goals for the overall growth and betterment of the continent.
“The very first thing is vision when starting an enterprise and it is important to dream big and start working towards actualising that dream regardless of how small as long as you start, growth is guaranteed.”