Within the space of eight years, Sijibomi Ogundele, 41, built his company – Sujimoto Group – into a Luxury Real estate behemoth in Africa that is now setting global real estate standards. The young entrepreneur, who is very vocal about his dreams was described by Financial Times as one of the leading luxury real estate players in Nigeria and across Africa.
In recent times, Sujimoto Group has embarked on some bold restructuring in readiness for the next big phase of its corporate existence, which is referred to as the Corporate Governance, Alignment, and Expansion Strategy’. Ogundele’s future and current project portfolios are worth over 1 billion USD as he keeps breaking new ground in the manufacturing, hospitality, and retail industry. “You can’t think locally and expect to play globally,” says the man whose ambition is to have a Sujimoto project in every corner of major cities in Africa. In this interview with Business Elites Africa, Sijibomi walks us through the Sujimoto journey as the company turns 8. He talks about the recent restructuring and expansion plans, his motivations, innovations, and future projects.
BEA: What does attaining 8 as an organisation mean to you?
Sijibomi Ogundele: In a society like ours where too many startups are closing shop on a daily basis, some because of the bad economic situation while others because of unfavorable policies, 8 years in business is worth celebrating. Not too many organisations make it this far. I’m forever grateful to God for bringing us this far and solidifying our foundation through thick and thin.
Though I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, God gave me a jewel in the form of a mother and I’m profoundly grateful to her for taking time to nurture and impact me with life-changing principles that have made Sujimoto what it is today
For me, the number 8 is significant because it is the end of one era and the beginning of another. In 8 years, we have disrupted the luxury real estate space in Nigeria, injecting quality and value creation, which before now, was a scarce commodity. We are building structures that people once thought were impossible; setting standards, and constantly challenging the limit of height and possibilities in the luxury real estate sector in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
Eight years for us at Sujimoto means expansion and restructuring. This year, more than ever before, we have embarked on a strategic internal restructuring as an organisation. I call this corporate governance, alignment, and expansion strategy. This is because we understand that we cannot dream to compete globally and think locally. This new era in our corporate existence gives us the opportunity to see the world as our marketplace, consolidate on our local presence and export our vision to all corners of the globe.
However, we have realised that to compete globally and dine at the table of global leaders, there are certain structures we have to put in place; from setting up a world-class corporate board to contracting a first-class big-4 accounting firm in creating the necessary internal structures that will become the foundation which will hold our future ambition.
BEA: Can you shed more light on the company’s ongoing expansion and restructuring plan?
Sijibomi Ogundele: Like Mark Zuckerberg once said; ‘we are not here to become a local champion; we are here to build something for the long term, anything else is a distraction.’ From my experience as an entrepreneur, I have come to the conclusion that the best strategy for building a long-term business is continuous value creation. The Apples, Berkshire Hathaway and Amazons of this world did not become great by providing mediocre services. Rather, while their competitors were busy being comfortable with the norm, they were working on disrupting the system through value creation for all. Today, these brands are miles ahead in their respective sectors.
Just like these exceptional businesses, Sujimoto has been constantly working in the background, creating immense value for our numerous stakeholders through the establishment and expansion of other retail business opportunities, and the foundation of a sound corporate governance structure. The idea is to create an organisation that everyone – both current and prospective investors can benefit from. Starting out as a luxury real estate construction company, Sujimoto has grown into a Group of companies comprising Sujimoto Residences – the Luxury short-let arm of the business; Sujimoto Readymix concrete and cement business; Suji Water – premium table water company; Mr. Meat – the butchery and abattoir business, which is dubbed the Uber for quality but affordable meat; S-Mart – the Walmart for luxury hypermarket experience and a one-stop-shop where you can buy anything and everything; S-Hotel – a boutique 5-star hotel that blends African luxury hospitality with 21st century architecture, built on customer addiction and corporate house help philosophy; Sujimoto Mall and our numerous luxury residential projects. To kickstart this transformation process, we have instituted an amazing team of board of directors comprising of some of the best minds in Education, Engineering, Law, Manufacturing, Hospitality Industry and Governance sector, to lead the company into a sustainable and ambitious future. Not only that, to bolster our management arsenal and support the board with enough firepower, we are bringing in some of the brightest talents and experienced C-level Executives to head our Communications, Human Resource, Finance, Sales and Marketing Team. We are not stopping there. We have also gone ahead to contract the services of one of the Big Four Accounting firms in the world to oversee the whole restructuring process to fruition and also eventually audit our business processing system and expansion strategy.
The overall goal for us in this restructuring is to create a formidable corporate entity, one that can compete with some of the best brands globally; and also, open up a huge opportunity for millions of Nigerians, who one day will want to own a Sujimoto shares. It is about value creation for Nigerians!
BEA: With the current state of the Nigerian economy, would you say there is a market for luxury real estate?
Sijibomi Ogundele: Though it is a niche market of people that understand what true luxury is, it is, however, a little challenging because of the volatility of the forex and instability of the economy. This plays a big role into why we are expanding and pivoting into the retail economy, providing the same luxury and customer addiction philosophy which we brought into the luxury estate. When it comes to luxury real estate in Nigeria, we own the market. In fact, Sujimoto is the market! I say this because when you buy into our project, you are buying into the highest value money can buy because at the foundation of our project conception, value creation was a fundamental ingredient.
When your target audience are the vital few, the 1% of the 1%, the ailing economy does not in affect that market, because it is not a question of whether they can afford our projects, but the availability of top-quality projects. Like I often say, create sugar and ant will gather. We at Sujimoto understand the desires and aspirations of our esteemed clientele, people who would never settle for less; and our projects are designed not only to appeal to their lifestyle, but also to cater to their voracious investment appetite. People that bought the Lucrezia when we broke ground two years ago have seen their investment grow over 280%. A lady bought the Lucrezia for 1.2 million USD at the foundation level, but today, the same property is now selling for $3 million USD and we are confident that it would sell for $400 million upon completion.
That’s over 300% ROI. More than ever before, we now have a more discerning group of luxury home buyers and investors whose expectations are very much in alignment with global standards – highest quality with the best value – either for live-in or for investment. For us at Sujimoto, we are focused on value creation for our customers. For our next project – the Leonardo, the 3 Bedroom which is currently selling for $1 million USD, will sell for 1.5 million USD during construction and eventually $2.5m upon completion in two and the half years.
Read the full interview with Sijibomi Ogundele here:
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