Actis, a leading growth markets investor across Africa, Asia and Latin America, and Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate (SPRE), the real estate arm of one of India’s largest conglomerates recently launched ‘Mi Vida’, a Ksh. 12 billion residential developer targeting the middle income in Kenya. This joint venture aims to bridge the gap in the market by addressing the shortage of quality middle income housing in Kenya.
I recently sat down with Mi Vida CEO, Chris Coulson and he was upbeat about the housing project that has already taken off with phase 1 being constructed adjacent to the popular Garden City Mall.
“There is an underlying demand for quality homes in the middle-income segment and this has seen Mi Vida sell 35 per cent of the first phase in less than four months since its launch,” says Mr. Coulson during an interview with StartUp Magazine at his Garden City office.
He attributes this success to a pre-launch market survey undertaken by Actis and SPRE that gave vital insights into the constraints within the Kenyan residential market.
Mi Vida, has been ranked the best new entrant into the Kenyan real estate market and the 2nd Runners up in the real estate developers and agencies category at the Kenya Homes Expo 2019 held in Nairobi in October, a fete that Mr. Coulson says is not by chance.
Actis and SPRE have an excellent reputation in delivering large complex real estate projects and have jointly delivered successful projects in the region.
“Shapoorji Pallonji has a legacy of over 150 years, building iconic and award-winning properties around the world, from palace of Oman, to high-rise offices and hotels, airports and railway stations, the largest affordable housing project to the most luxurious apartments in India, China, and Africa” he says.
Mi Vida is a continuation of that legacy of excellence and dedicated delivery, says the CEO.
“We believe that our visibility and success as a new brand is strong testament to our product and confidence we bring around delivery, and that is why we made sure that we have the best of Mi Vida,” says Coulson adding that, “When we entered the market we realized that having local knowledge and expertise was indispensable, he says. The firm conducted in depth market research and realized that many prospective home buyers and investors were looking for quality homes in a suitable location with a modern design and finishes, access to good amenities, ample parking space and security at a realistic price. “We used that insight to tailor-make solutions to suit our customer needs”.
Mi Vida which means ‘my life’ in Spanish is giving home owners an experience for quality life in a serene environment. “Just like investing in a vehicle, we believe that investing in a new home is an important life choice. And that is why Mi Vida is all about living life to the fullest, surrounded by quality and convenience,” says Coulson.
The development will greatly benefit from being adjacent to the Garden City mixed use development with the shopping mall, office park and the three acre public park. To further underpin this lifestyle, Mi Vida will be developed on a 4.5-acre parcel of land with 1.5 acres set aside for green spaces and lots of family amenities.
Recent statistics indicate that over 50 percent of home buyers will not buy off-plan. Many people want to see the actual completed projects before they commit to buying.
“Being able to actually see and walkthrough the apartment is key in today’s market. . For Mi Vida we have invested in Sales Office which has our show apartments ready to give our clients an indication of what they are buying,” he notes.
“Mi Vida is well funded, says Coulson. “We do not solely rely on off-plan sales and sales revenue to start and fund the project, which is rather unique in today’s market.”
In response to the current market issues, there needs to be better access to affordable mortgages which will help to improve the low owner occupier situation and to stimulate the residential market.
“When you have an active formal housing market with access to financing, this puts people on the property ladder and has a welcome impact on the economy. We are talking about construction activity, employment creation, taxes, better housing and improved livelihoods.”