Women and the Real Estate Business in Kenya
Gone are the days when women were limited to the kitchen. Some women are fearlessly taking up leadership roles and venturing into fields that were previously considered as men-only, such as real estate.
Some Successful Women in Real Estate, Kenya
1. Slyvia Kasanga
She is a nominated senator, an architect, an entrepreneur and founder of Sycum Solutions Limited and an arbitrator (in construction disputes). She has been an architect for sixteen years now. She is also the only female member in the Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Environment and Natural Resources.
2. Mugure Njendu
She is an architect and an urban planner, she is the current president of the Architect Association of Kenya (AAK). She is also the Director of Gitutho Architects and Planners. She has been named on "Kenya's Top 40 under 40" twice by the Business Daily.
3. Hamida Hassanali
She is the Director of Hass Consult, a real estate company, which she formed with a partner back in 1993. She was a school teacher and fashion designer before getting into the real estate business.
Challenges that Women Face while Investing in the Property Business
In a proper African setup, women were not supposed to inherit or own land. This mindset has largely affected the growth of women in the real estate field. Those bold enough to defy such cultural systems, encounter multiple roadblocks in their quest to make it in this sector.
Of all the stumbling blocks that women come across, this is the most dominant. According to a study conducted by Women in Real Estate (WIRE), gender discrimination still exists. Women are often looked down upon and singled out simply because they are women. Some conservative men refuse to work under women or take orders from them. They think that women cannot be more knowledgeable than them, especially when it comes to matters of construction.
For this to change, more women should be given and they should take up higher offices for people to see that women really possess the skills needed for the job. The recent appointment of women as members of the Executive Committee of Africa Association of Quantity Surveyors (AAQS), is a step in the right direction.
Unequal Pay to Female Industry Professionals compared to their Male Counterparts
From realtors to architects and many other professions even out of the real estate sector, most companies tend to pay female workers less than their male colleagues. Even though they both have the same skills and experience needed. Some claim that with the role of being mothers and wives, it may be hard for them to balance all those roles and still be able to deliver fully in their profession.
Work and personal life balance should not be an excuse for women to be underpaid. Being skilled and competent is enough especially if they deliver and show the ability to grow every day in their careers.
Women realtors are at a high risk of being abused and they may encounter sexual harassment. When showing clients property, women realtors are supposed to take extra precautionary measures for their own safety. Make the client(s) know that your colleagues know that you are with him (them). This can be done by communicating over the phone often.
Land grabbing is an issue that is affecting so many people and not only women. But most cartels and land grabbers tend to go for single women/mothers and widows. The grabbers know that women would do anything to protect their children. But women should not be cowed. There are always people who can help, for example, the media can highlight their stories and attract help.
Lack of Mentorship for Women in the Real Estate Field
It can be hard for women to find mentors in this field, especially if they want to gain insights from fellow women. WIRE comes in and helps women navigate through this growing industry. They have numerous programs that help women become successful in their real estate ventures.
Women should never give up their quests because of challenges. The property business has a lot to offer in terms of career advancements and income. These challenges should push women to overcome and achieve.