Daniel Okal is a gender consultant and part-time social work and development studies lecturer at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). He is a renowned public figure in his home village of Renan in Rongo Sub-County, Migori County.
In 2014, a group of elders from his village visited Okal at his Nairobi home and asked him to vie for a political seat in the 2017 General Elections so that he could help young people from his community, however, he turned down the request.
But having promised to do everything within his means to help the youth, he brought a hundred of them together and registered them under Red Oak Properties Limited.
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Okal asked the youth to each pay Ksh1,000 as registration fees after which he sought further sponsorship of Ksh100,000.
“With Ksh200,000 in hand, our group could draw an investment strategy. We unanimously agreed that we would buy huge tracts of land, subdivide them and sell them for profit. Within the first year, we were Ksh400,000 richer,” he told The Nation in an interview.
After the successful first year, Okal led the group to register Ujasiri Housing finance, and as a way of adding value to the land they sold, they came up with the idea of building houses for their clients.
“The idea worked since most of our clients were interested in homes, not agricultural or commercial land,” he said.
As a group, they ensured the success of their investment model by researching areas where the national and county government were opening up with road networks.
“My knowledge was indeed being put to good use because updating myself on current affairs relating to government-sponsored development was not difficult,” Okal stated.
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The part time lecturer is a graduate of social work and development studies and is currently pursuing a PhD in development.
“I was able to pick areas in Murang’a, Kajiado, Laikipia and Kisumu Counties where water, power, roads, and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) would pass through, adding value to the land,” he added.
Using the Ksh400,000 capital they had made, they acquired plots of land in the above named counties, noting that locals were unaware of the upcoming projects.
“By mid-2015, we had acquired 1,000 acres of land, which by early 2016, we had sold for Ksh12 million. Each member of our group was guaranteed a Ksh100,000 profit share, minus Ksh20, 000 to pump back into our operating capital,” said Okal.
The members then used part of the proceeds to access a credit facility which they used to invest in boda bodas among other activities. Their capital grew to ksh5 million after they increased their savings and managed a further 100 acres, for which they sought partners to develop a gated estate for sale.
“We are seeking partnerships with several county governments as well as with financial institutions to work out profitable formulae for fast-tracking our wealth-creation dream,” he said at the time.
Okal identified banks and Saccos as their ideal mortgage partners since they already had the land. He, however, noted that land is a very sensitive issue and getting a customer to part with his/her money in exchange for a parcel of land requires serious convincing.
“The irony is that if you advertise, the potential clients become even more suspicious of your investment,” he said.
By July 2020, their client portfolio had grown from the initial two to 1,006.
“If all goes well and we are very optimistic that it will, by 2030 we want to be among the movers and shakers in real estate, with every member owning a home and other investments,” he said.
“Our core business now is to acquire more chunks of low-priced land, add value to them and dispose of them to through hire purchase. Our model targets low- and middle-income earners where, for a commitment deposit, we l avail land to them and they can settle the difference in instalments,” he added.