PWAN is a household name in real estate networking and marketing, and has been in the business of providing affordable, easily accessible and incontrovertible land and houses for many Nigerians in the last eight years of its existence in the country. With a clear-cut vision in financial management and a well-defined framework for all to own land and houses and move away from bad accommodation to better accommodation, the company has already begun transforming the lives of so many people in Akwa Ibom State through its investment in real estate and several other housing programmes, some of which have become an unmistaken reality too impactful to ignore.
In this interview, with the Chairman of PWAN and the Group Managing Director, Dr. Muric Austine Onwumere and Dr (Mrs.) Jane Obioma Owumere give insight into the many achievements of the company within and outside Uyo, and further unveils a brightening future for the housing sector in the country.
Please Ma’am, can you give me an insight about yourself and the company?
Ok. My name is Dr Jane Obioma Owumere. I am the Group Managing Director of PWAN. I was the first Managing Director of the first company in the Group known as the PWAN Group. PWAN Group is a real estate network marketing and information company set up in Lagos in 2012 by the chairman. And then, the vision was and is still to make home ownership dreams a reality for as many people as possible. When we started, our mission was to discover affordable land. In fact, developing areas and make it known to people and also show them how they can keep money to buy land to build their own homes. This, we have done diligently for these past eight years. In Lagos, we have started up several estates. We have structured land to enable people who may not afford to buy land outright. We know that many people cannot afford to buy land or buy their own home. But with the kind of structures we have set up, a lot of people have been able to make money from this programme. Even though we have not gotten to the home ownership level yet, but we are on it right now. Many of them have been able to rent good accommodation and move away from bad accommodation to better accommodation. So many people have been empowered; a lot of women empowered. There are those who could not even take care of their homes are taking care of their homes. Those who could not pay their children’s school fees are doing so today. Those who were like liabilities in their families have become assets. Today, there are various families. Like I said, we started in 2012 and in 2015, we began to set up other companies in partnership with the people working with us. Today, there are about 17 companies in the PWAN Group. All of us are doing the same thing. Remember, our vision is to make owning houses a reality, and it is not something that one person can do. So, all of us are working in different areas; different locations all pursuing the same vision.
Considering the economic realities in the country, how have you been able to convince people on the need to have affordable homes or put in their money to get good accommodation?
Ok, let me start with us. My husband and I had a business that failed and one of the greatest regrets we had was that we didn’t have, even a quarter plot of land. If we had any land anywhere, we would have gone there to put up a small church so we could have a roof over our heads, because we lost our means of livelihood. We could not even pay rent. So, we started squatting from place to place. In two and half years, we lived in 13 places, moving from one place to the other. By the time we started PWAN, we were still squatting. Our first office was in a bar where used to just go and sit down and meet customers. But, there is something I can tell about our own experience: a lot of people can afford to put little money towards their land or ownership. There are a lot of people I see; the amount they spend on recharge cards or the phones they have in their hands or some other things they spend their money on; can actually start them up in a business. Now, we have a platform where anybody can come in to work with us. We have this seminar programme we run. We call it “Work with us in Nigeria”, Starting with zero capital, we have zero ways of becoming part of PWAN and you can come in to market property with us and from there, you make money and with this money, you can put towards your home ownership or land ownership. Remember what I said that our mission is to discover affordable land in five developing areas, make this known to you and also show you how to make money.
Show you how you can buy land and build your own home. Starting with free registration in PWAN and make sales of land; you could earn between 5 percent to even as high as 15 percent. You could imagine if you sold ten million worth of land; that is 1. 5 million by the time we check. So, the platform is structured in such a way that people can come in and work with us. In fact, this platform in Lagos practically revolutionized the real estate business. We were the first real estate marketing company in the world; not just in Nigeria, and several other people have started business using that model because we are able to create a structured premium plan for people towards their own ownership. Like we have one we are doing in PWAN now that will translate into fifteen thousand naira. You can start paying 200 for property; it could be land or could be a home. Just fifteen thousand naira and decide where that property is cited. If the money even accumulates, you can locate it in any of the estates we have on ground already. So, we have people who just paid for a plot of land. If you have any particular land in mind, but they are fifteen thousand naira on a monthly basis. You may say: how many years does a person have to pay to get a home or house? But, remember that we are a network marketing business. So, by recruiting other people into your business, you earn money if you make sales. If I recruit you into this business and you make sales, I earn commission. If you recruit your brother, and he makes sales, you will earn and I will earn. So, we have four levels of commission, ok. Let me say: three or four levels, but there are properties that are not up to four levels; they are also based on two levels. They are very expensive properties. By so doing, people can make money to buy land and build their own homes. Even with the economic downturn; what we need is to apply ourselves to business. You can start PWAN Group with zero capital. Just come, go online, fill the forms, sign up and if it makes any sense, you earn commission. You may earn, but you do a registration of one thousand, six hundred and fifty naira so you could have a number within our system. If you introduce anybody and the person makes sales, you are earning commission. And if you go further up, we have seven ways you can become a part of the preamble. One of them is free. So, you don’t need any money to do that. By the time we started this company, we didn’t have any money. So, we are mindful of debt.
Are you in Akwa Ibom to replicate this model for people?
And how have you been able to get people’s interest on this?
Do you know network marketing? Have you been involved in anyone? We don’t have to be physically here to have people. We have people that market our property in U.S., London, South Africa, Canada, Dubai, Qatar; in all parts of the world. We don’t have properties in those places, but those who are Nigerians who have access to other Nigerians that may want to buy properties here; they don’t even have to come to Akwa Ibom physically for us to have people here. We already had partners in Akwa Ibom State before we came; who were marketing the properties we had in Lagos and earning their commission, because all we need is their bank account and if they make a sale, they get paid. So, before here, we already had partners in Akwa Ibom. Sometime last year, we set up an office. So, we have an office in Akwa Ibom State now.
What is your impression about Akwa Ibom State?
I would say it’s awesome. There is a monthly programme we do. We have been doing it in Lagos: only Lagos for years. The only place we have done outside Lagos is Owerri, but in August, we did it here in Uyo, and over a thousand people turned up for that programme. We did it at the Emerald Event Centre here in Uyo. The hall was filled up and some people were even outside. So, the response has been awesome. A lot of people here who were not doing anything are doing something now.
In your company, do you have a particular area whereby people who wish to buy land can easily come and pay monthly and get the land?
Yes! Here in Uyo, for instance, we were introduced to some land owners through an indigene. I think the young man is from Ikot Ekpene. The lawyer too is also an indigene of Akwa Ibom State. He introduced us to some properties here that belong to various land owners and we bought.
Can anybody pay by installment for any land of his choice?
Yes! Of course, we on our own, we don’t buy land out rightly. We buy by installment. For instance, if a land is four hundred million, we can pay fifty million every three months. So, we also extend that to one year, two years. In fact, if you are a registered member, you can have up to thirty months to pay for your landed property and that means if it is something of 1 million or 1.5 million, you can be paying fifty thousand a month.
The energy is in the number of people who are buying. So, we use this system to empower people who do not have means of livelihood. We ask them to tell their family members, school friends, teachers, work colleagues, relations, church members and everybody around them that you can buy by installment. Little drop of water, they say, makes a mighty ocean. Fifty thousand here in 30 places is 1.5 million a month. If somebody has thirty people paying fifty thousand every month, he or she gets between 10 percent and 15 percent of 1.5 million every month. 10 percent of 1.5 million is one hundred and fifty thousand. Fifteen percent is two hundred and twenty five thousand. So, the person gets that kind of money for thirty months, pay tax to the government… imagine that!
We are creating a livelihood, and at the same time, we are creating opportunities for people to own legitimate landed properties. Not only landed, we have also gone into building. Last year, we declared that from 2020 upward, PWAN Group will go into home development and also give people long payment time up to 20 years and we will have mortgage partners.
That means if I decide to have land and then, maybe want a plot, you would show me the plot and tell me the amount. You can tell me the payment plan and then, I can bring some other people with similar interests?
You will earn commission.
I have never heard about this plan before – Housing Estate Management.
We are even the people who perfected the system, but we organised it and made it a system. That was when we were coming from Lagos. We checked out several real estate companies that started in 2012 when we started and have imbibed that system and it is working. We cannot deny something that is working.
There is P1 in Bayelsa State. Yesterday, we went to Eket. One of our people put an office by himself there in Eket; at Afaha Ukwa Road. We were there just to visit the place. Akpan that is the young man; he is the owner of that centre in Eket. He is from Eket, but he lives in Uyo. We have seminar room there in Eket. We have in Ikot Ekpene Road.
We just planted a new office complex at Nwaniba. We are picking up the key to the place tomorrow. Several other places… one is in Warri; one in Abuja. Selling properties is secondary. The primary thing we do is to help Africans; help people; help give a source of livelihood. We lay it on the head to train people, make it a point of duty to bring people who have never learned about personal development and entrepreneurship. We bring it free of charge to them.
So, our offices are majorly seminar halls plus a few rooms. That is why when you go to our places you will see a space that can contain at least one hundred people.
What is your impression about Akwa Ibom State?
It is a real and beautiful place!
Just look at the features of a child of 33 years and what is expected of that child? Does the state fit into that frame?
Like I said, I can not really say, but what I can say about this place is that I have found a beautiful place to live in. The government has made so much effort to create a lovely environment. If you go to the field of Uyo, it is not like some other states. It is clean, tidy and somewhat organised. I think it is quite remarkable. One of the other things I felt impressive is that practically Akwa Ibom has a state carrier- the Ibom Air. I do not know if there is any other state in Nigeria that has a state carrier and that is a fountain to care for the people. You can fly into duplex, a fountain that other bigger states do not even have and it is well maintained.
Now we also notice that the roads are reasonably good. From Uyo to Eket that I went yesterday; apart from one or two gallops, the road is good compared to other states. So, like I said, I do not know Akwa Ibom very well, but so far, what I have seen is quite impressive enough for my husband and I to say that we are going to come here. In fact, recommend few places like Shelta Afrique… that is the kind of impact the state has on us.
I also think the people are eager for change. This change; for the opportunities we brought, so many people are going to embrace it. That is what I feel from the business we are doing and the response so far. The other day I was in Uyo for training. The space was filled up. Some people were standing on the corridor: over a thousand people. This shows they are eager to learn. So, if the fountain IS available, they will embrace it; they will grow with it.
What I like most about our programme in PWAN is that we are not just selling properties; we are educating people; we are training and employing people. You do not have to know anything business before you come in. Come the way you are. You will not stay up to six month or one year in the business and you will be empowered.
We are not just selling land. We are strong about infrastructural development, creating enabling environment for people to live in. We are just young. It might not be same thing in our estate, but we bring the services of town planners to make water flow very easily in estates so that we do not allow our customers to build things that will affect the environment. We are very keen about the structure our customers put on ground.
Not only that, in Akwa Ibom, we are only one year, but we have over seven hundred and fifty members who are benefitting; who have been empowered to be part of the business. Giving another two to five years, we will be employing another five thousand members that will benefit financially and otherwise from the business we are doing.
How do you deal with people that are skeptical about such business plan?
Well, it is good for some people to be skeptical because in the past, they must have been duped. Here is a different scheme of things whereby a company registered under Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, is involved. Not just registered, we have over 42 physical offices in Nigeria. In Lagos, our head office is a five storey building with 167 salary paid staff in the building. We also have on the same stretch in Lekki, 11 offices with people who are being paid salaries in a month. Our salaries are in terms of a million in a month and we have structure. I, personally, as the chairman, must indemnify anybody for whatever money you are investing with us, believing that whatever money you give to us as your hard earned money… we train our people to understand that people’s money is trust upon us and we must help to achieve whatever they are paying for. So, we can give you indemnification in writing for any money you are investing with us.
On a final note, what is your message to Akwa Ibom People?
Akwa Ibom people keep doing what you are doing. Akwa Ibom is beautiful. The roads, almost do not have potholes. The people that are ruling the state are doing very well. The state has good food and tourist centres. We went to Ibom Hotel… so beautiful. The state is hundred percent peaceful. The government and the people of Akwa Ibom have done so well.