“One day, when I become rich, I will own a property.”
This reasoning lies somewhere in the minds of most Africans, the majority of whom have equated property investment with having a truckload of cash lying around. It’s hard to blame them, after all; mortgages hardly work in this part of the world, and ownership of or investment in properties is traditionally capital-intensive. But if Keble, a startup that powers fractional investment in real estate, had its way, Africans would be able to own a share of properties for as low as $10. That’s like unleashing a Thor-like hammer on the existing barrier to entry.
“It took my parents 60 years to own their first property,” Emmanuel Oballa, Keble’s founder and CEO said to TechCabal over a call. “But it really doesn’t have to be this way.”
“By digitising and democratising the whole process of property investments, anyone, irrespective of their income or experience, should be able to invest in properties at their individual level,” the founder explained.
Oballa might very well be on to something next-level. Over the past few years, real estate investing has consistently bucked the downward trend of crypto and the sinusoidal trend of stocks. As Africa’s increasing population and urbanisation continue to compound the value of land and properties, the real estate sector is proving itself to be the true mother of investment on the continent.
Yet, properties in Africa are only a fraction of Keble’s offerings. Through strategic partnerships with real estate developers in Europe and the MENA region, Keble is able to offer its customers—Africans all over the world—access to fractional investing in premium properties globally.
For Keble, the mission is to improve the quality of lives by “granting Africans easy access to the sweet side of the property investment market.” This sweet side is where extra money can be made by anyone who gets on Keble to invest in property projects. Last year, retail investors on Keble raked in a total of $140,000 at an average of 10% dollarised interest.
As the digital innovation wave continues to refine the approach to global markets, novel products like Bamboo and Trove have surfaced to connect Africans with low investment capital to global stock markets. Similarly, more African startups in frontier markets like property investment are taking a leaf from this book to power alternative retail investment offers on the continent. Keble is planting itself right into the heart of this burgeoning market, competing at a continental level against players like South Africa’s Crowdprop, Nigeria’s Abode, and Egypt’s Partment, which raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed round last year.
Keble’s value proposition also includes providing real estate developers with capital for their projects. For many of these businesses, access to capital can make or mar operations, and traditional lenders like banks would rather look the other way or charge exorbitant interest fees on loans. Keble’s model allows the startup to manage capital that can be deployed to building projects at their early stages, enabling Keble to broker better deals on properties and consequently yield better returns for customers.
Keble is backed by global accelerator behemoth Techstars. It was one of the 12 startups that got into the inaugural ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator Program. Before Techstars, the startup raised about $130k in funding from GreenHouse Capital, Hacked Venture, Asset Resource & Management (ARM) Ventures, and some undisclosed angel investors. According to Keble, Techstars investment forms part of the additional capital the company is presently raising via a pre-seed round.
Speaking about the startup’s value proposition, Olubunmi Akinyemiju, Partner at GreenHouse Capital said, “Allowing Africans to get access to real estate is a great problem to solve. We’re excited to be supporting the founders and the entire team at Keble.”
As CEO, Oballa steers the Keble ship with three other co-founders, including Josemaria Agulanna (Senior Ops and Growth Lead), Valentine Offiah (CTO), and Adebisi Borokinni (Senior Product Lead). The team of four share palpable synergy, owing to their history as alumni of the University of Lagos, and combined professional experience of over 14 years across real estate, finance, and product development.
“Globally, real estate is worth over 300 trillion dollars. Yet, most Africans have been shut out from this asset class without a structured way to build wealth through it. Keble is changing this narrative with its suite of solutions, and impacting lives along the way,” Agulanna said to TechCabal.