“Richard Branson said when an amazing opportunity is offered to you and you don’t know how to do it, say yes then learn later,” A young Festus Mutia responds as to why he accepted to relocate to Rwanda for a job.
Speaking on his time in Rwanda, the young real estate professional told Kenyans.co.ke that he was offered the chance to manage the largest mixed-use development in the East African country in 2017.
The building he is referring to is the Makuzi Peace Mall Complex which was constructed at a cost of Ksh2.5Billion ($25Million) and is a pinnacle of modern architecture in the country.
The giant mall is located in the Central Business District (CBD) of the capital Kigali.
At the centre of it all is Mutia, who is serves as the senior leasing manager and mall expert at the plaza.
“Being the manager of the mall, my work involves meeting with prospective tenants, drafting contracts, ensuring smooth operations of the mall amongst other responsibilities,” the 27-year-old explains adding that the best part of my job is dealing with different people mainly investors.
Mutia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics from The University of Nairobi, holder of CPA-K, and currently pursuing Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a post-graduate diploma in Project Management.
“Besides my work, I also run a small real estate consultancy firm that covers East Africa region dealing with feasibility studies, market research, and property consultancy as a whole,” he states.
Real estate services and construction in Rwanda contributes around 14.8% to the GDP as Mutia noted that the Kigali has attractive rental returns, with the sector recording an average of 9.0% compared to 7.0% returns in Kenya, 10.5% of Tanzania and 11.4% of Uganda.
“Rwanda’s real estate market is a very young market and historically challenging due to the low purchasing power of its citizens hence selling out spaces is not a walk in the park.
“However, the rate of growth of the market and the economy at large is the highest in the region,” he explains.
Rwanda is a lucrative market for Kenyans with a 2013 report by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) indicating Kenya as Rwanda’s top investor and trading partner.
At the time RDB noted that 1,302 Kenyan companies had been domestically registered into Rwanda, directly employing close to a quarter a million Rwandans, and more than 2000 Kenyan expatriates had also gotten jobs, serving not only the hundreds of Kenyan companies in Rwanda but also government agencies.
Working in the two countries has been made easier as both Kenya and Rwanda abolished work permit fees for East African nationals working in the two countries.
In 2015, Uganda also signed the agreement to liberalise the movement of labour as it also abolished the fees.
Working in Rwanda is an unforgettable experience, as Mutia puts it noting that the language barrier in the country that is dominantly French and Kinyarwanda has pushed him to learn essential words to communicate in both languages.
The country has become his second home noting that its rapid growth offers new opportunities for investors.
“Rwanda has been ranked highly on the easiness to do business and hence it is an ideal place to invest, so yes, I wouldn’t mind investing in Rwanda and settling here as well,” he states.