When I get rich, I’ll buy a house.”
This rationale exists in most Africans’ minds, the majority of whom have associated property investing with having a lot of cash lying about.
It’s hard to blame them, though. Mortgages don’t work well in this part of the world, and owning or investing in real estate has always required a lot of money.
But if Keble, a company that helps people buy small pieces of real estate, had its way, Africans could own a piece of property for as little as $10. That’s like throwing Thor’s hammer at the barrier to entry that’s p there.
“It took my parents 60 years to buy their first home,” Keble’s founder and CEO, Emmanuel Oballa, told TechCabal on a call. “But it doesn’t have to be like this at all.”
“By making the whole process of investing in properties digital and open to everyone, anyone, no matter how much money they have or how much experience they have, should be able to invest in properties at their level,” the company’s founder said.
Oballa could be on to something extraordinary. In the past few years, investing in real estate has always gone against the downward trend of cryptocurrencies and the sinusoidal trend of stocks.
As Africa’s population grows, more people move to cities, and land and properties become more valuable. This makes the real estate market the best place to invest on the continent.
But properties in Africa are just a small part of what Keble offers. By forming strategic partnerships with real estate developers in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa (MENA), Keble can give its customers, Africans from all over the world, access to fractional investments in high-end properties around the world.
For Keble, the goal is to improve people’s lives by “making it easy for Africans to get to the good side of the property investment market.” Anyone who invests in property projects on Keble and goes to this sweet side can make extra money. Last year, individual investors on Keble made a total of $140,000 at an average dollarised interest rate of 10%.
As the digital innovation wave continues to improve global markets, new products like Bamboo and Trove have come out to connect Africans with low investment capital to global stock markets.
Similarly, more African companies in frontier sectors, such as real estate investment, are taking a page from this book to power alternative retail investment opportunities on the continent.
Keble is right in the middle of this growing market, competing on a continental level with companies like Crowdprop from South Africa, Abode from Nigeria, and Partment from Egypt, which raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed round last year.
As part of its value proposition, Keble also gives real estate developers money for their projects. Access to capital is essential for many of these businesses, but traditional lenders like banks would rather ignore them or charge them very high-interest rates.
Keble’s model lets the company manage the capital used in the early stages of building projects. This allows Keble to find better deals on properties and, in turn, give customers better returns.
Techstars, a powerful global accelerator, supports Keble. One of the twelve firms accepted into the first ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator Program. Before Techstars, the startup got about $130,000 from GreenHouse Capital, Hacked Venture, Asset Resource & Management (ARM) Ventures, and some unnamed angel investors. Keble says that Techstars’ investment is part of the extra money the company is trying to get through a pre-seed round.
Olubunmi Akinyemiju, a Partner at GreenHouse Capital, said this about the startup’s value proposition: “Giving Africans access to real estate is a great problem to solve. We’re happy to help Keble’s founders and the rest of the team.”
As CEO, Oballa runs Keble with three other co-founders: Josemaria Agulanna (Senior Ops and Growth Lead), Valentine Offiah (CTO), and Adebisi Borokinni (Senior Product Lead). The four people on the team work well together because they all went to the University of Lagos and have over 14 years of professional experience between them in real estate, finance, and product development.
Real estate is worth more than $300 trillion dollars around the world. But most Africans haven’t been able to use this asset class to build wealth because they don’t know how. “Keble’s suite of solutions is changing this story and lives along the way,” Agulanna told TechCabal.