UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | For decades, men have dominated real estate in Uganda. Breaking into the industry, especially as a woman, is difficult. However, a determined woman, Irene Nalwoga, has learnt the intricacies of the business and is now taking up real estate as a profession working independently as real estate agent.
Irene Nalwoga, the managing director of Renewills Real Estate Entebbe, takes us on the journey of how she has made it in the business. Her love for the art of homes and unique designs sparked her interest in real estate.
“Formerly, I was employed by a bank for four years. I naturally love to visit houses. That is when I found my love for real estate. One day, I went for a meeting with Anatoli Kamugisha, the managing director of Akright estates, and he gave me another perspective of real estate. When I saw his estate and what he had done, I fell in love with it and I realised real estate is an excellent investment,” Irene says.
Irene quit her job as a banker in December 2010. After meeting with Mr Kamugisha, she requested him to be her mentor. Eventually, Mr Kamugisha turned her into a real estate agent.
“After meeting him for one year, I got the courage to resign from my job as I was registering my company at the same time. I started Renewills investment in 2011. I didn’t have money to build houses, so the only way I could go into real estate was as a developer,” Irene narrates.
According to Irene, her first big break came in 2012, when she sold an old house in Entebbe and made a profit of USh18 million. She manages houses as rentals for the owners who live abroad. This big sale built her confidence further in the real estate sector.
“I think leaving the bank was the best decision. When I look at how far I have come in the past nine years, I believe I made the best decision in my life,” she says.
Irene says patience, integrity and her love for houses have helped her to stay successful in the real estate sector.
According to Irene, to be successful in this business, you must be professional at it and involve partnerships.
“You cannot run a real estate company as an individual business but as a partnership. Customer care is different. In the beginning, I saw there was a lot of unprofessionalism in the business and promised my mentors Kamugisha and Vincent Agaba, chief executive officer Avats Ltd, that I would carry out my business professionally,” she says.
Irene says her employees are keen on details and carry out research on properties in the market. This has helped Renewills company avoid bad transactions in the past nine years.
“Our biggest business is the foreign market, but we also deal with Ugandans because they are the ones who own the houses. Clients are fed up with dealing with unprofessional property agents but when they find you are organised and faithful, they will keep on coming to your office without you doing a lot of marketing and they will refer you to others thus more business,” she says.
Irene says although the startup may not be difficult since all that is needed is an office, it is looking for the properties and gaining the trust of clients that is difficult.
“At first, it’s difficult because real estate is a man’s world and dealing with that pressure. I remember when I started, people used to say, ‘Oh she’s a woman, and she’s doing agency’, so everyone was surprised but I knew my strength because I knew how to sell. We went on graduating from agency to property management and right now we are 60 per cent developers, 30 per cent agency and 10 per cent property management,” she says.
“People believe property agencies are for men but believe me, a woman can do a better job. If she is organised and principled, they can easily serve their clients,” she says.
Irene advises anyone who wants to become a real estate agent like her to be patient, faithful, and loyal to clients.
“You need to be faithful and loyal to your clients, staff referrals and to everyone you’re working with because real estate is all about trust. If people trust you, you will make money, but if they don’t trust you, you will never see a coin,” she cautions.
Irene advises women to be brave and join the real estate sector.
“Real estate is not an easy business, but it is doable for women because we have it in nature. We are born sellers. All that you need to do is love what you are doing,” Irene says.
Irene says Renewill’s goal is to have an iconic building in Entebbe like Dubai’s Burj khalifa.
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