Meet Paul Onwuanibe, The Nigerian Developing Africa’s Most
Home African CEOs Interviews Meet Paul Onwuanibe, The Nigerian Developing Africa’s Most Desirable Real Estate Projects
Interviews - July 30, 2023

Meet Paul Onwuanibe, The Nigerian Developing Africa’s Most Desirable Real Estate Projects

Paul Onwuanibe is an accomplished entrepreneur and the Group Chief Executive Officer of The Landmark Group, owners of some of Lagos’ most desirable real estate developments – Landmark Towers, Landmark Beach, Landmark Boulevard, etc.

With a background in Architecture, Property Development, and Construction Management, he also holds an MBA merit in “Value Engineering” from the London Business School.

Over his 25-year career, Paul has gained extensive experience in design and project execution across Africa, the USA, and Europe. He has held key positions such as Development Director with Beacon Housing in the UK and Executive with responsibility for the Property and Logistics team of Regus Plc during its rapid expansion phase, overseeing the opening of 190 business centers worldwide.

He possesses exceptional expertise in commercial property and workplace management. Under his leadership, Landmark Group expanded into America, Europe, and Africa, securing over $100 million in funding and achieving a PWC-endorsed book valuation exceeding $300 million. His vision is to create the first pan-African real estate and service organisation based on his philosophy of integrating live, work, and play.

In this Business Elites Africa interview, Paul walks us through his entrepreneurship journey and shares invaluable business growth insights.

BEA: Can you share your entrepreneurial journey with us?

Paul Onwuanibe: After acquiring my academic qualifications in Nigeria and UK, I worked as development director with Beacon Housing and then with Mark Dixon, running the Property & Logistics team of Regus plc. It was there I realised there was a problem back home in Africa that my idea could solve. 

BEA: What was it like working with global companies, and how did that experience influence your decision to start your own Business?

Paul Onwuanibe: I’ve always had a passion and love for designing buildings and yearned to improve my skill. I was privileged to work with Mark Dixon at Regus and learnt a lot about running a business from him. After a discussion with a friend about my business idea, I realised Africa was ripe for it; the primary issue of infrastructural deficit made the mixed-use development system a necessity.

BEA: Africa is a diverse continent with various cultural, economic, and regulatory differences across countries. How did you approach expanding your Business into different African markets?

Paul Onwuanibe: Socio-cultural distinctions aside, similar issues affect every developing country in Africa: regulatory restrictions, Finance, taxation, and human/skill resources. But you’re never quite as comfortable in your friend’s house like you’re in yours. So, we set up simultaneously in 4 major cities across Africa’s regions for continental impact.

As an organisation, we attract good investors by providing satisfaction on development projects to foster trust in our delivery standard, which is always best-in-class. 

BEA: Setting up a business in Nigeria can be challenging. What were some of the specific obstacles you encountered while establishing Landmark Group in Nigeria, and how did you overcome them?

Paul Onwuanibe: We faced Regulatory restrictions, bureaucratic bottlenecks, the struggle to get the best and right people, and insecurity; the list is quite long. But we surmounted it regardless. I always say that excuses are for people who don’t want it bad enough.

Generally, Africa has a relatively undersaturated business atmosphere; it presents more challenges and, therefore, more opportunities. The move for Nigeria was both passionate and strategic. 

BEA: Landmark Group has made significant strides in business, real estate, and hospitality sectors. Could you elaborate on the growth and expansion strategies you have implemented to achieve such success?

Paul Onwuanibe: We are more than a real estate company. We are destination providers focused on creating Business, Leisure, and Lifestyle destinations encompassing the corporate, entertainment and hospitality sectors. 

From developer to experience provider, Landmark is paving the path to excellence in the African real estate and mixed-use sector, and the growth is continuous. Our latest project, The Landmark Waterview Apartments, completes the ‘Live’ aspect of our ‘Live, Work, and Play Cycle.’

The goal is to replicate our mixed-use development model across other African cities.

BEA: What are the key factors you consider before investing in any vesture?

Paul Onwuanibe: I look at the 3P’s; People. Planet. Profit. The business must be solving a problem for the people. It must be sustainable and also a worthy and profitable business investment.

BEA: What advice would you give aspiring African entrepreneurs on securing Funding and attracting investors?

Paul Onwuanibe: Relative to the list above, if your business meets the 3S’ of success; solvability, scalability and sustainability, you’ll have a harder time turning investors down than attracting them.

BEA: What sectors or industries hold the most potential for African entrepreneurs?

Paul Onwuanibe: If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way. There are many opportunities in real estate, with leisure hubs, mixed-use developments, and tech solutions. These are a few hotspots for the near future. 

The best businesses are the ones that solve a problem for the masses.

BEA: What strategies or approaches have you found effective in building strong business networks and partnerships?

Paul Onwuanibe: I Invest in building and keeping relationships by offering mutual value. This is a prerequisite for success. But the real measure of success is IMPACT.

You can be anything in life if you help others get or become what they want to be.

BEA: What are your future plans and vision for Landmark Group? Are there any specific industries or regions you aim to target for future expansion?

Paul Onwuanibe: Landmark is in Africa, for Africa, by Africans. We remain pacesetters at the core, creating best-in-class legacy projects, firstly in Landmark Lagos. Then we replicate our mixed-use development model across other major cities in Africa. 

The best way to predict the future is to help create it.

BEA: Innovation and adaptability are vital traits for entrepreneurs. How do you foster a culture of innovation within your organisation?

Paul Onwuanibe: Complacency is a killer of dreams. And you will get overridden if you do nothing to evolve. Change is constant, and you must position your business to evolve with seasons and times.

You can foster a culture of innovation by rewarding excellence, investing in skills, employees’ personal development, and encouraging open-door policies that allow everyone an opportunity to get their ideas heard or executed 

The organisation that is never satisfied is the one that always satisfies its clients.

BEA: Entrepreneurship can be a rollercoaster ride with highs and lows. How do you maintain resilience and stay motivated during challenging times?

Paul Onwuanibe: Without passion, you’ll never start; without commitment, you’ll never finish.

The biggest strength is the courage of the people who work to execute the Landmark vision. We live by some basic principles; we know that great things are a series of small things done consistently well. And we understand, most importantly, that success is achieved by moving past failures without any loss in enthusiasm.

We are always doing something new, always evolving, and every new experience brings its own maturity and a greater clarity of vision.

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