[Interview] Peter Tole, Co-Founder and Director, Land LayBy Real Estate, Kenya
The real estate firm, Land LayBy was founded by Dr. Peter Tole, a Kenyan medical doctor resident in Australia, in 2014. Land LayBy is a unique combination of assistance to Africans in diaspora and accelerating economic growth on the continent.
Africa Business Communities interview Peter Tole:
Please tell us about Land LayBy
Land LayBy is a unique real estate firm company with an active financial technology arm that specializes in solving land acquisition problems for migrants living in diaspora and the local citizens. It was founded in September 2014 by myself and Phyllis Tole, an auditor living in Australia. The Company has enjoyed steady growth and operation that resulted to the expansion to four other countries. We offer financial inclusion land products that allow both local and diaspora clients to purchase land without the need of bank loans. These financial inclusion products are land option contracts that allow the client to use the little available today to secure a price of land to be paid at a future date. This secured price is fixed irrespective of the realized equity on the land investment at the time of property settlement.
What is Land LayBy’s unique selling point?
Diaspora clients are disadvantaged by geographic barrier, compounded by the prevalent trust gap. We significantly lower their investment risk by use of innovative land purchase contracts. These require repayments starting from as little as USD 100 per month, essentially empowering them to be in a position to walk away from the deal should they need to. It is not uncommon for offshore land buyers to lose all their investment due to the prevailing dishonesty. Offering a platform where land acquisition can be spread through a 2 year period has incentivized most clients to adopt our concept. Lack of capital is an impediment to acquisition of land to the local buyer. It is unusual to find any land seller offering land for sale with a 2 year repayment term at USD 100 per month. Our premium plus membership guarantees unique benefits like buyback, money back, squatter proof management among others.
Is Land LayBy publicly or privately funded?
Land LayBy is a privately funded company predominantly owned by professionals in the medical, legal and accounting profession working and living in the Australia and USA. The business owners have self-funded the entire Company projects. In the course of Company growth, the business owners had to liquidate their investment as well as self-guarantee financial institutions loans.
Has Land LayBy entered into any strategic partnerships?
Land LayBy inception was marred with numerous uncertainties regarding the legality of the concept and its enforceability. We therefore had to partner with leading legal firms based in Kenya to ensure the land purchase contracts were legal documents, transferrable, enforceable and within the perimeter of the regulatory bodies. We are currently developing a blockchain land registry for a number of countries. We therefore partnered with technology experts and firms in New York and India to assist with planning and development of our blockchain concept. Being a nascent technology with potential limitations like interoperability, and scaling, these partners experienced in blockchain technology continue to add value to the ecosystem.
What can you say about the changes and developments Land LayBy has undergone since its inception?
The Land LayBy headquarters office was originally run by only two people (co-founder and administration assistant), in a tiny office. Rapid growth resulted to the Company recruiting more employees who couldn’t fit in the small office. Conflicting business priorities made us consider shift work instead of relocating offices. We later on managed to relocate to a larger and upmarket office. During that period we fervently worked on our operational systems, and later achieved ISO 9001:2015 certification. This was an eventful milestone that saw our business transformed. It is at this point that we rolled out franchise sales executive products in a bid to achieve aggressive customer acquisition plan. This saw the birth of entities in Australia, United Kingdom and the USA. During this period, we embraced technology, worked with experts who explored the potential benefits of blockchain technology in solving the land acquisition problems we already knew about.
How do you see Land LayBy confronting new real estate markets in 2018?
Land LayBy will make land acquisition easy and simple for anyone desiring to own land. Since our purchase contracts obviate the need for banks loan, we expect an overwhelming number of new entrants to the market. By creating a single source of land ownership truth using blockchain technology, it will be very easy for the East and West African nations to receive remittances from its citizens living overseas for purposes of purchasing land and property settlement. Most migrants from Africa shy away from buying investment properties in Africa primarily due to the fear of the unknown registry surprises. An online blockchain land registry that confirms and authenticates land ownership in an instance will instill the much desired confidence in property settlements. We have an eye on the Ethiopian economy, Papua New Guinea and other developing countries including Philippines India and even China.
How would you assess Kenya’s economic performance in 2017?
The last quarter of the year presented uncertainty to the investors due to the high political temperatures during presidential elections. Investor confidence was low and this certainly halts and hurts business growth. Amidst all these uncertainties, Kenyan continue to harbor unique characteristics in the way they deal with issues with the potential to destabilize the country. It appears Kenya has a thermostat that will only allow the political temperature to go reach a certain level before autoregulation mechanisms takeover the process. The only problem is that the threshold for autoregulation may seem to be too high sending negative signals to the international investors who may not necessarily know how to interpret correctly the raising political temperatures. The medium to long term outlook is certainly bullish and will significantly improve if efforts to support affordable housing projects, and improve agricultural productivity are widely supported by all stakeholders.
Which African countries do you predict will perform best in 2018?
Kenya continues to show political maturity despite the transient political instability during elections. Leadership in financial innovation is evident. Significant investments in startup firms and visits by the world’s renowned entrepreneurs to the country tell the tale. Focus on innovation will consolidate fintech startup community in Kenya.
Ghana has already shown interest in adopting technology. His Excellency Dr Bawumia Vice President of Ghana announced the intention to shift focus to digitisation of land registration in 2018. Reading in between the lines of this intention reveals a commitment to stamp out corruption. As Ghana’s entreprenual culture continues to solidify, Ghana’s subconcious efforts deal with corruption through technology will open up the West African country to investors all over the world.
Although it continues to suffer intermittent bouts of political instability, Ethiopia continues to enjoy fast growth of the economy. Its potential is evident by the ongoing infrastructural developments and international investments.
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