5 Inspiring Women Changing the Culture in Africa’s Real Estate

In the vibrant world of African real estate, the spotlight shines brightly on five extraordinary women who are rewriting the industry’s narrative. As March unfolds, the globe pauses to honour women everywhere, celebrating their diversity, resilience, and achievements. International Women’s Day isn’t just a date on the calendar; it’s a rallying cry against bias and discrimination, a call to empower and uplift.

Today, we applaud the ingenuity, resilience, strength, and entrepreneurship of women across various fields, and we spotlight a few names within the real estate space in Africa. These names have carved niches for themselves across different phases of the real estate industry in Africa. Today, we celebrate these women as well as all the women who have braved all odds within the industry to impact the next generation.

Nana Akua Oppong Birmeh – CEO of Archxenus

Nana Akua Oppong Birmeh, the visionary CEO of ArchXenus, is a beacon of innovation in Ghana’s architectural landscape. Fueled by a desire to balance career success with family life, Nana Akua founded ArchXenus as a haven where parents could bring their children to work. Set up in 2011, ArchXenus, according to DesignIndaba.com has worked on some of Ghana’s biggest multi-residential projects, like Shandonia Court in Accra and the award-winning Tower Cascades. The Christ Temple Children’s Centre, completed in 2017, is another standout project, which also earned the firm an African Property Awards win.

Nana Akua holds a firm belief that the essence of every ArchXenus design lies in its ability to positively influence the surrounding environment. Balancing her roles as a mother of four, a wife, and a forward-thinking visionary, Nana Akua’s commitment to excellence garnered her recognition in the prestigious Forty Under 40 awards in 2017, celebrating her contributions to architecture, design, and décor. Additionally, her impactful work caught the attention of the BBC’s 100 Women initiative, shining a spotlight on remarkable women making waves globally.

Also read: Our 2024 Predictions For Nigeria’s Real Estate Industry

Simphiwe Mhlongo- Simpre Properties

In May 2021, Simphiwe Mhlongo embarked on her entrepreneurial journey by establishing Simpre Properties, her very own real estate agency. This bold step was the culmination of a lifelong dream that began in her youth when she envisioned building a business from the ground up. After eight years in the airline industry, specializing in customer service, Simphiwe transitioned to real estate in 2018, where she quickly recognized the obstacles faced by individuals seeking housing.

Driven by her belief in the qualities of integrity, accountability, empathy, enthusiasm, and humility, Simphiwe advocates for supportive policies that empower women in the workplace. Reflecting on her proudest achievements, she cherishes her academic accomplishments after marrying and becoming a mother, as well as the fulfilment of opening her real estate firm. For Simphiwe, success in business hinges on assembling the right team and maintaining a commitment to continuous learning. Looking ahead, she envisions expanding her business throughout South Africa, aspiring to inspire more women to join the industry.

Mrs Bisi Ogunwale- CEO, Abule Sowo Realtors and Heritage Royal Homes

Meet Mrs. Bisi Ogunwale, CEO Abule Sowo Realtors and Heritage Royal Homes. A seasoned veteran with over 15 years of mastery in the dynamic world of real estate. Known as both a sales dynamo and a savvy developer, she’s earned her stripes as one of Lagos’s most successful serial entrepreneurs in the real estate scene.

Bisi’s track record speaks volumes, adorned with numerous accolades and awards, cementing her status as the go-to agent for many reputable companies. But it’s not just her accolades that set her apart; it’s her unparalleled knack for sealing deals, even during the challenges of a lockdown. While others may have faltered, Bisi thrived, closing countless transactions and raking in millions.

Her portfolio boasts coveted properties like Gracias Emerald, The Lavadia, Urban Prime, and more, each representing a testament to her unwavering dedication and expertise. But what truly sets Bisi apart is her infectious joy and gratitude, evident in her celebratory posts and updates shared with her loyal subscribers. For Bisi, every sale isn’t just a transaction; it’s a cause for celebration, a testament to her relentless drive and unwavering passion for her craft.

Read: How real estate sector can solve Africa’s global warming

Eva Sonaike- Interior Designer

Step into the world of Eva Sonaike, a Nigerian powerhouse whose creativity knows no bounds in the bustling streets of London. As the founder of her eponymous interior and lifestyle brand, Eva brings to life luxurious textiles, home décor, and accessories infused with a vibrant West African flair.

Drawing inspiration from the rich tapestry of West African textile tradition and European craftsmanship, Eva’s designs are a testament to her passion for interior design and her unbridled love for colour. Each piece exudes exclusivity, bringing a touch of African luxury to any space lucky enough to showcase her creations.

But Eva’s journey to design stardom wasn’t always a straight path. With a background in journalism, she cut her teeth as a fashion journalist for glossy lifestyle titles in London. It was a decision to revamp her apartment that sparked her foray into the world of design. Crafting cushions from ‘Ankara Fabric, Eva’s creations garnered such acclaim that she soon found herself producing a small collection of samples with a local manufacturer.

Before she knew it, Eva’s designs were gracing the shelves of London’s most prestigious department stores, including Selfridges, Liberty, and Fenwick of Bond Street. In just a year, Eva Sonaike products had become synonymous with elegance and sophistication, captivating the hearts of customers far and wide.

Since 2011, Eva has devoted herself fully to her brand, pouring her heart and soul into every uniquely designed piece. Blending traditional African aesthetics with a contemporary luxury style, Eva’s creations have earned rave reviews from professional clients, who describe her work as nothing short of revolutionary. With Eva Sonaike, every space becomes a canvas for her vibrant imagination, transforming ordinary into extraordinary with a touch of elegance and a splash of colour.

H.E Mrs. Dominique OUATTARA- First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire & CEO of AICI International Group Company

Last but not least is a captivating journey through the vibrant life of H.E Mrs. Dominique OUATTARA, the esteemed First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire. Her path from pioneering real estate magnate to influential global entrepreneur is truly awe-inspiring.

Back in 1979, she took the helm as CEO of AICI International Group Company, marking the beginning of her remarkable ascent. With a keen eye for opportunity, she expanded the company’s reach across Africa and Europe, solidifying its presence in key Ivorian cities like Yamoussoukro, Bouaké, San-Pedro, and Jacqueville.

Not content with local success, Dominique Ouattara steered AICI towards international waters, establishing its European headquarters in France in 1989. The expansion didn’t stop there—branches sprouted up in Paris and Cannes, with further growth into real estate management through partnerships like “Malesherbes Gestion,” overseeing a vast portfolio of properties in Paris.

But her ambition knew no bounds. In 1996, she assumed the role of CEO at EJD Inc., taking charge of the prestigious Jacques Dessange Institute in Washington. This venture paved the way for her acquisition of Jacques Dessange franchises across the United States in 1998, propelling her into the realm of French Beauty Services as its CEO, where she continues to champion excellence in beauty and business alike.

Dominique Ouattara’s journey embodies resilience, vision, and an unwavering dedication to success, making her a true icon of empowerment and achievement on the global stage.

In conclusion, as the world marvels at their achievements, it’s clear that these women aren’t just changing the culture of African real estate; they’re shaping its future. And with women now holding 43% of commercial real estate positions worldwide, their triumphs serve as a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and unwavering ambition.

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