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Kenyan women are not oppressed anymore - they own land now!

My Man
 67 per cent of our customers are women. Who would have imagined that?

In 2010, we started a business of buying land in bulk, sub-dividing, and selling it. We had thought that men would form the bulk of our clients. We were wrong!

Seven years later, the profile of our clients shows that the Kenyan woman is more empowered than most people would want to imagine. What has shocked us most is that 67 per cent of our customers are women. Who would have imagined that?

As a society, we are conditioned to think that it is men who buy land, and that women are oppressed. We have seen even the push in Parliament for women’s right to inherit land. I think that is no longer necessary, especially after the 2010 Constitution entrenched women’s property rights. Women who buy land from us are aged between 25 and 40 years. I think that is when they have money to invest because they are working. They comprise both married and single women. Even though we don’t ask them about their marital status, we have noticed that quite a number of them seem to be in relationships.

They buy land as individuals and as groups (chamas). So what favours women, even though they might not be earning as much as men? Women are more organised than men. Compared to men, women are better at pooling resources. Unlike women, men usually look at bigger “investments”. If it is buying land, for instance, they would look for a plot going for Sh3 million or more. This is money he might end up saving until he retires. By then, the prices will have gone to say, Sh14 million.

Women, on the other hand, don’t mind buying the Sh100,000 or Sh200,000 plots. They just keep buying and buying and buying. It is a land mania for them.

What's that thing you have been procrastinating over?

But why are so many women buying land? My guess is that they do it for investment purposes. It is a security for their future. They eventually sell it or develop it. When the worse comes to worst, especially the married or those in a relationship, they will have a place to park their cars and sleep without having to pay rent. It is home.

Women investing in land did not start last year. In 2013, a survey conducted by Consumer Insight for global payment firm Visa revealed that more women were opting to invest in real estate. The report showed that many more women were buying plots which they later sold or built on to add onto their investment portfolios.

About 64 per cent of the women surveyed said that they would buy a house or land if they had the money. Only four per cent said they would invest in the stock market. A personal finance and investment expert told a local daily that “women prefer to invest on something that will secure their future”.

“Women consider building a house and buying land as the best investment,” the report, which surveyed 2,069 women, aged between 25 and 55 years, across the country, said.

It showed that young women, aged between 25 and 34 spend on furniture and electronics compared to older women, above 44 who preferred to invest in real estate and vehicles. Most of the women said they save, with a majority opting to put their money in banks and chamas (investment groups).

For me, this is not a reason for gender fights, but an opportunity for men to learn a few investment tips from the womenfolk. The biggest lesson is that no amount is too small to invest. Start where you are and with what you have. If you are focused, nothing can stop you from achieving your dream.

The writer is the Group CEO of Property Reality Company (PRC).

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