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What Centum Real Estate’s One-Stop Shop Means To Real Estate Investors

Kenyan Real Estate Giant is delivering exceptional value by developing luxury communities that align with the aspirational lifestyles of many. These housing solutions cater to a range of markets, including affordable, mid-market, and high-end segments.

The real estate sector is experiencing a continuous increase in housing demand each year, fueled by a growing population with shifting preferences. Notably, there is a rising demand for premium residential communities that offer safety features and amenities, all conveniently situated near transportation hubs.

Affordability is a critical factor for consumers, encompassing the overall cost of occupancy. Centum Real Estate, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CENTUM Investment Company Plc, is the leading developer of mixed-use urban nodes in East Africa.

Image of Centum Real Estate's MD Kenneth Mbae
Centum Re MD Kenneth Mbae.

The company emphasizes the importance of prioritizing consumer needs and preferences, particularly the value for money, as essential for sustainable success in real estate ventures.

According to Managing Director Kenneth Mbae, Centum RE’s real estate strategy focuses on creating the most cost-effective locations for living and conducting business. He stresses the importance of understanding consumer needs in a competitive market.

“Consumers are increasingly prioritizing value for their money,” Mbae remarked, highlighting the importance of customer-centric strategies. He detailed how Centum Re leverages market research to forecast future demand, trends, and homeownership preferences.

“Real estate is fundamental to human life. We spend up to 90% of our time within real estate spaces. Whether working in an office, living at home, shopping, exercising at a gym, or enjoying leisure activities, we’re nearly always in a building.”

Through comprehensive market analysis and forward-looking predictions, Centum aims to anticipate and meet evolving consumer needs over the next decade.

“A key aspect of this demand is the overall lifestyle that tops the list for homeowners and tenants.”

Mbae illustrated a scenario where modern individuals contemplating a residential move examine the total occupancy costs—rent, utilities, and other expenses—not just the rental price.

“Consider a consumer pondering, ‘If I move into this home, what will my costs for power, water, and internet be?’ If we can offer sustainable buildings where a consumer who previously spent Sh5,000 on utilities can now save 30%, that’s a significant win,” he explained.

Image of Centum Real Estate MD Kenneth Mbae With Safaricom Sacco Manager
Image courtesy (KBF)

Such savings could translate to approximately Sh6,000 per year, effectively giving the resident one month of free living annually.

“This approach encapsulates our commitment to value for money and a holistic lifestyle,” Mbae emphasized.

Opportunities in the Sector

Kenya’s real estate sector is booming, fueled by urbanization and a growing population. As more people migrate from rural areas to cities like Nairobi for economic opportunities, the demand for housing is soaring, creating substantial opportunities for developers and investors.

“Housing has become critically important,” Mbae noted. “We often leverage government incentives aimed at boosting the sector.”

He also pointed out Centum RE’s strategic advantage in developing a pan-African real estate business, which positions them to address real estate needs across the region and attract foreign direct investment.

“We can generate jobs and uplift communities through our diverse business segments,” Mbae elaborated. “By supporting the entire value chain, we significantly contribute to the economies where we operate.”

Centum RE’s ambitions stretch beyond their current scope. They are actively planning expansions over the next five to ten years, guided by a data-driven strategy.

“Our teams are performing market studies and feasibility analyses to pinpoint the ideal timing and locations for new projects. This thorough planning ensures we meet substantial market needs in underserved areas across Africa.”

Centum RE Leverages Track Record for Growth

Centum isn’t just aiming to expand geographically, they’re also focused on leveraging their existing brand strengths to fuel growth.

“We have a strong track record,” says Managing Director Kenneth Mbae.“Our projects are visible across East Africa. From Kenya to Uganda, we have a verifiable and demonstrable track record.

Mbae emphasizes the importance of capitalizing on this established reputation. Centum plans to leverage their successful projects as a springboard for further growth.

But brand building goes beyond past achievements. Centum RE recognizes the need for continuous improvement. “We’re investing in resources to scale up the business,” Mbae explains. This includes exploring and adopting to modern construction technologies to shorten construction timelines

Driving sustainability;

Sustainability is a core principle guiding Centum RE’s  real estate development strategy, according to Managing Director Kenneth Mbae.

“We take a multifaceted approach to sustainability,” Mbae explains. “Our design teams are constantly challenged to push the boundaries to develop resource efficient buildings that achieve at least 30% savings on utilities. construction.”

This commitment is evident in Centum RE’s focus on renewable energy. Solar panels grace the rooftops of their projects, a testament to their dedication to sustainability

But their commitment goes beyond energy. Mbae highlights the importance of preserving green spaces. Centum actively plants trees within their developments, fostering a healthy ecosystem.

Furthermore, Mbae emphasizes adherence to rigorous sustainability standards. They collaborate with design teams to ensure buildings meet the highest local and international energy and resource efficiency benchmarks.

The firm has prioritized sustainability throughout the development process, it aims to minimize their environmental footprint and contribute to a greener future for Africa, a move that aligns with the growing demand for sustainable living spaces.

Pioneering Innovation

Innovation is a cornerstone of Centum RE ‘s approach to real estate development, as highlighted by Mbae.Their strategy focuses on continuous improvement across all stages of the development process.

Mbae emphasizes the importance of extensive research at the very beginning. This research delves into not only their own projects but also industry trends and emerging technologies used around the world. By staying ahead of the curve,Centum ensures their designs meet the evolving needs and preferences of modern residents.

Innovation extends beyond design. Centum actively seeks out new construction technologies from manufacturers and construction companies.This includes exploring advancements like formwork technology and precast concrete panels, which can streamline construction processes.

The MD stresses the importance of collaboration.Centum  RE fosters a culture where everyone contributes to the innovation process. By bringing together diverse perspectives, they can identify ways to improve efficiency, shorten construction timelines, and ultimately reduce costs.

Giving Back: Investing in Communities

Centum RE prioritizes social responsibility, aiming to make a positive impact in the communities where we do business. “We go beyond bricks and mortar,” explains Mr.Mbae. “We strive to uplift the communities where we operate.”

One of the cornerstones of Centum’s RE Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts is education. They understand the transformative power of education and sponsor scholarships for bright but underprivileged students to proceed with their high school education. over 400 students have benefitted from the scholarship program through access to quality secondary education, a path that would otherwise be out of reach.

Centum Real Estate's Two Rivers Complex
Image source (Centum)

Centum’ RE s commitment to education extends beyond scholarships. They actively invest in improving educational infrastructure. This includes upgrading existing schools, providing essential supplies like desks and classrooms, and equipping libraries with resources to enhance learning.

Investing in the youth is another key pillar of Centum RE ‘s CSR strategy, the firm has donated equipment like football kits, fostering a healthy and active lifestyle among youth.

That’s not all, they also support vocational training programs within the communities they develop in, as they seek to empower them to secure better employment opportunities, ultimately contributing to the economic well-being of the community as a whole.

Capitalizing on the Housing Boom

Centum RE is poised for significant growth, driven by a surging demand for housing across Sub-Saharan Africa. According to Mbae, their focus is on capitalizing on this opportunity.

“Our research indicates a staggering housing deficit exceeding 7 million units across Sub-Saharan Africa,” Mbae explains. This demand is fueled by a confluence of factors, including rapid population growth, accelerated urbanization, growing middle class, economic growth and increased government investment in infrastructure.

Kenya itself faces a shortage of over 2 million homes, highlighting the widespread need for development. Mbae emphasizes the universality of this challenge: “The housing gap exists in every town and city across the region. So whatever housing gap is in Nairobi, it’s easily the same one in Kampala, in Kinshasa, Dar- es -Salaam,Kigali and we have done our model that works  can be scaled up.

This presents a significant opportunity for the firm.”We’ve developed a successful housing model that can be replicated across borders,” Mbae says.This scalability positions them to effectively address the housing needs of various cities.

Mbae steers the company’s vision and growth, focusing on developing value for money luxury housing solutions catering to the affordable, mid-market and top end while creating Instagrammable communities across Africa.

“It’s exciting to be in a market with such immense potential, and Centum is well-equipped to address this critical need.I’m also excited about the possibilities, given that in business, the most difficult thing is to create a market. Our role is just to put together a solution that addresses the market gap which is an exciting space to be in as the director,”.

Centum RE ‘s Impact:

  • Over 400 children have received full high school scholarships.
  • Thousands of jobs have been created through construction and ongoing operations.
  • A successful 3-billion-shilling bond issuance and retirement showcases our demonstrable track record and ability to attract real estate capital, deploy the capital accordingly and actualize the investment.
  • Over 1,200 homes were handed over with home ownership supported through the flexible payment plans making home ownership a reality for more people.

The MD’s path to the top wasn’t a straight shot. “My Centum RE journey began in 2010 as an intern,” he revealed, “tackling everything from car park management to market research.” This experience together with Centum RE  investment in training, leadership development and mentorship to develop future leaders has enabled him to grow within the organization.

Mbae’s story is a powerful testament to Centum’s RE commitment to develop future leaders. His journey, from intern to Managing Director, exemplifies the opportunities available within the company.