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Real estate expo eyes diaspora billions

Real estate firms and lenders are angling for a piece of the Sh163 billion that Kenyans in the diaspora send home annually. Real Estate Maximum (RE/MAX) Heritage, a firm offering professional real estate services, equips Kenyans abroad with information that enables them to identify and evaluate investment opportunities despite limitations of distance. To achieve this, it is holding investment expos in various countries showcasing real estate opportunities in Kenya to grow the economy and minimize investment losses. From September 22 to October 3, 2016, the firm will hold a global diaspora property and investment expo in Toronto and Ottawa, Canada, where 50 Kenyan real estate firms will meet investors. The event, organized in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Kenya Property Developers Association, will showcase to the 30,000 Kenyans in Canada opportunities at home, including housing options, mortgage finance and investment with Sacco’s and insurance firms. Representatives from investment companies, financial institutions, insurance companies and Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry will make presentations. Early this year, another RE/MAX Heritage expo in Australia brought together more than 30 exhibitors and 400 Kenyans living in Melbourne and Sydney in an event sponsored by Family Bank, Ukulima Sacco, Cretum Properties, Stima Investment and Optiven. “Buying a home back home is a practice that is important for Kenyans working abroad but with a vision to earn stable proceeds or settle once back,” says RE/MAX Heritage franchise owner Faith Mwaura. She says: “The expos are a good way to educate Kenyans in the diaspora about the value of investing in key industries in Kenya. Real estate is the third contributor to the GDP at 7.5 per cent. Kenyans send home about $1.5 billion (Sh151 billion) annually. If even 15 per cent of this is invested in the industry, we will witness massive growth and expansion.” Mwaura says their focus on Kenyans abroad is hinged on the fact that diaspora contribution is a major factor in economic growth. Some three million Kenyans live abroad, with many residing in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, UAE as well as in other African countries. “Not only do we want to integrate the diaspora market into National development, we also want to give them the opportunity to invest right at home,’’ says Ms. Mwaura.

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