Kigali Heights stands as a flagship development for Century Real Estate, a one-stop property shop looking to capitalise on a national industry on the rise
Writer: Matthew Staff
In a relatively short space of time, Century Real Estate Rwanda has proven itself entrepreneurial and knowledgeable enough to capitalise on a burgeoning industry that is set to present many more lucrative opportunities in the years to come.
Borne from a merger between two forward-thinking industry experts, the initial vision revolved around reaching out more effectively to a growing sect of consumers in the professional real estate space.
Subsequently evolving the Century Real Estate remit to meet this need, achieving a one-stop property shop in the process, one of these individuals, Managing Director (MD), Charles Haba is proud of the growth that has manifested so far, and optimistic about the journey still to come.
“We have grown very significantly over the years and this has largely been thanks to a rounded commitment to delivering a quality, full real estate package which includes corporate real estate services, industrial letting, mortgage advisory, office leasing, rentals, sales, title and deed processing, valuation services and consultancy,” he introduces. “The market is still very nascent but it’s growing rapidly so while our philosophy has been built on consolidation up to this point, we can now look to leverage our reputation for reliability as opportunities continue to arise.”
Striving to satisfy clients - or ‘partners’ as the Company prefers - through its turnkey offering, the success of Century Real Estate has largely derived from its unique ability to cater for all potential requirements within the sphere.
“It comes from thinking a little bit outside the box,” Haba explains. “We have enjoyed organic growth but with a dynamic element of thinking flexibly and innovatively. A one-dimensional approach to a growing market will never generate the growth you’re looking for.
“It’s all about positioning the Company to capitalise on new opportunities, and the diversification of our services has been critical in this positioning. Our service offering represents how we want to be perceived in the market, and the market now knows that we can be relied upon on all relevant levels to help them achieve their targets.”
Establishing itself as a uniquely all-encompassing provider, Haba attributes the Company’s two key differentiators as being this one-stop shop facilitation, as well as the way the business actually conducts itself across each individual project.
Century Real Estate’s initial mission was “to practice and promote value for time and money among stakeholders” and this is all too evident still today through both its investments and its portfolio.
From the former’s perspective, key areas of investment have revolved around human capital and technological progression, ensuring quality throughout the value chain.
And regarding the latter, the portfolio of projects that formulate Century Real Estate’s track record really does speak for itself.
Haba enthuses: “What really stands out in terms of our portfolio are the exclusive sales and exclusive rentals we’ve been involved with, as well as the management and consultancy side of things. And one example that encapsulates both is a project we’re very proud to be associated with in terms of Rwanda’s first Grade A commercial mixed-use development, Kigali Heights.
“We were involved with Kigali Heights from the start, across appraisals, feasibility, advisory, letting and right up to now with management. It is a flagship development for both us and indeed for Africa.”
A second prime example is Kigali Business Centre (KBC) which comprises the largest amount of retail space in Rwanda for a single development, standing at 17,200 square metres. It has served as a litmus test for the commercial property market in the country as a consequence and once again showcases the calibre of projects and challenges that Century Real Estate is trusted with.
“The third example we’d like to highlight is on the residential side, called Vision City” Haba continues. “It is the largest single housing development in the country with more than 4,500 dwellings, we have been involved on the sales side of it too, and once again it has proven to be a very exciting challenge to have on our plate.”
Inevitably, Century Real Estate has ingratiated itself into the fabric of Rwandan infrastructural development virtue of its rise up the industry ranks. But localised prominence presents itself in numerous forms for the Company, with an equally stringent focus placed on social enrichment over the years.
This starts with its workforce, with the business priding itself on not just the skills it has available but also the indigenousness evident throughout its staff compliment.
Haba details: “It can be a challenge to find the right resources but for this reason, we look to hire and recruit from a talent and attitude perspective, and then to encourage, remunerate, empower and train them from a retention point of view.
“We realise we are not spoilt for choice in terms of finding the right people on a technical level, so it’s about finding the right attitudes and personality fits, and then turning them into a good resource via a successful training process.”
Naturally encouraging mutual loyalty among young artisans, a promotional culture has been formed. And it also alludes to a much wider emphasis that the business places on corporate social responsibility (CSR) each year. As a member of numerous nationally and continentally significant associations, the Company ensures that is has a say in the overall development of an industry still finding its feet, and all associated companies, workers and communities that intertwine within the domain.
From an educative perspective, at least four interns are taken on each year, while Haba himself conducts numerous motivational speaking seminars to help usher in the next generation of Rwandan real estate professionals; a positive act for both the industry and of course for Century Real Estate’s own ongoing evolution.
The Managing Director concludes: “From a medium and long-term perspective, we will continue to consolidate our position in the market but this will coincide with a drive to capitalise on low hanging fruit and numerous nascent opportunities that are presenting themselves; especially across facilities management.
“Over the next few years we will also be able to get involved in more medium-sized, mixed-use developments. The property market in Rwanda is growing at a very exponential rate and while opportunities in other countries are quite saturated, there is still plenty of room for companies like us to thrive here.”