Tolulope Onalaja is the Executive Director in Nigeria and the United States for RevolutionPlus Property Development Company Limited, one of Nigeria’s fast-growing real estate companies. She co-manages the company with her husband, Bamidele Onolaja, who is its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer. But Tolulope’s innovativeness, creativity and support since joining the company in 2016 are credited with helping to build a strong structure for the property company and ultimately, its revolutionary strides in the real estate sector. Assistant Editor OKWY IROEGBU-CHIKEZIE reports.
It is not happenstance that RevolutionPlus Property Development Company Limited, a real estate company, is inching closer to realising its vision to be the number one real estate company in sub-Sahara Africa. Rather, it is the robust structure painstakingly built by its Executive Director, Mrs. Tolulope Onalaja. Already, that strong structure has earned the company its pride of place as a pacesetter in Nigeria’s burgeoning real estate sector.
Although the idea of floating RevolutionPlus, admittedly, was conceived by its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bamidele Onalaja, Tolulope, who co-manages the company as its Executive Director in Nigeria and the United States with her husband, Bamidele, has since brought her creativity and innovativeness to bear in making RevolutionPlus one of Nigeria’s fast-growing real estate brands.
Tolulope confirmed this much when she told The Nation that “since 2016 when my husband lured me into real estate business, it has been a very fantastic job even though there are challenges here and there. …Today, RevolutionPlus is a success to the glory of God.” She said after her husband ran the firm for three years and it was beginning to show promises, “he thought that he needed my support and assistance to build a strong structure because I resigned as the Chief Operating Officer of the company where I earlier worked.”
Bamidele has also not stopped counting himself lucky for having a supportive spouse like Tolulope. Recalling how he started out and the role his wife played, he had this to say in an earlier interview: “At the time I wanted to start the business, I had no money. I registered the firm with zero naira. When I approached banks, they turned me down. They were not ready to support my vision, but I made up my mind that nobody would stop me from the vision I have.
“So, I started talking to friends, telling them to lend me some money. Many of them turned me down because they could not believe in my vision. But with God on my side, one of my wife’s uncles, I told him about my project/land and I took him there at Mowe and he said ok! Mr Bamidele take this, and that was my breakthrough in real estate. No bank agreed to lend us money, but because I was focused, determined and I have a wife who supports my vision from the scratch to finish, I have realised my vision.”
However, Tolulope has since taken her support for her husband’s vision for RevolutionPlus to new heights, helping to build strong brand equity for the real estate company. And one of her strategies was the recent launch of instant allocation for the company’s numerous customers. It was revolutionary since it was the very first time in the real estate sector that a property company introduced instant allocation on every landed property when buyers make full payment for any of the properties.
.However, it was not the first time RevolutionPlus, under Tolulope’s watch as Executive Director, ignited a revolution in the Nigerian property market. A few years ago, the company also introduced fencing and gatehouses in properties around the Ibeju Lekki axis. The innovation was an instant hit, as other real estate brands in the country followed suit.
According to Tolulope, the new innovation, the instant land allocation, was a lasting solution to major real estate challenges that may create doubt in the minds of customers. She explained that the ground-breaking idea was borne out of intense brainstorming sessions that lasted for many weeks considering all the bottlenecks in acquiring landed documents from the government.
Her words: “We have our estates on layouts. Buyers will get allocation immediately payment is complete. Innovation and creativity is the hallmark of RevolutionPlus Property. We have upgraded our mode of operation so, going forward, once any of our clients completes his/her land payment, he will be allocated instantly on the layout with his/her plot and block number.
“Any client that pays all fees with the land immediately gets physical allocation instantly within 48 hours and clients also have up to 90 days to complete the payment for survey, deed of assignment and development levy after paying fully for land.
“However, for clients that completes payments for land and statutory fees (survey, deed of assignment and development levy) out rightly, their physical allocation will be instant, within 48 hours while the survey documents and deed of assignment will be received by the client who had already taken physical allocation within 30days.”
The company has also gone a notch higher, introducing an automated Customer Relation Management (Automated CRM) portal to communicate to its clients regularly on the payment progress. There is also a proper call centre where customers can speak to any of RevolutionPlus representatives in any language of the customer’s choice, including a dedicated email for customers. The email, The Nation learnt, has been built with the call centre to attend to any resolutions, questions, enquiries or complaints, and a representative will take it up and respond to you. The whole essence of the robust feedback mechanism is to keep customers constantly updated on all the company’s activities.
Multi-tasking and hard working, Tolulope has since extended her entrepreneurial tentacles beyond Revolutionplus. Subsequently, she has opened a subsidiary called Remarkable Food, a restaurant owned by Revolutionplus. “We do commercial cooking with over 10 shops with head quarters in Lekki. She said Remarkable Food prepares delicious African foods.
She also has a hotel and a lingerie shop that she trademarked. “My boutique is well stocked in lkeja and Lekki,” she said, adding that besides the parent company, Revolutionplus has branches all over the nation including Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Tolulope said working together with her husband has been an awesome experience. “Oh yes, it’s been fantastic. We hear a lot of people say they cannot work with their husbands or wives, but it has worked for us, she declared, pointing out that one way she and her husband have been able to be successful is to know where each other’s area of strength lies.
“We divided the work so we don’t step on each other. He knows where my core competence lies. For instance, he handles projects, but anything that has to do with office and how it is managed in Nigeria and the United States of America, administration, finance and others are my portfolio.
“For instance, when files are taken to him by a member of staff and it has to do with payment or anything of that sort, he will re-route them through my office and it is same for me if it has to do with his competence area,” Tolulope explained, adding that as couple, “we just allow everybody play on his or her specialisation and strength so that with that understanding we really don’t have issues when we are at work.”
Describing herself as “businesslike,” Tolulope recalled how her former boss used to tell her that she is supposed to come as an Igbo woman, apparently because of her industry, hard work and tenacity. “l am very businesslike. My former boss calls me an Igbo woman in Yoruba skin. I am very professional and I know how to draw the line perfectly well between the office and the home,” she told The Nation.
Underscoring the role of women in helping their husband realise their vision in business, Tolulope said: “Women have lots of role to play. If you look at er on our lobby, it is written “Every of my achievement is because of my wife.” My husband wrote it and put it in that conspicuous place.
“In other words, women are home makers. We can manage funds; we are good with managing resources. If l was not involved in the business with him, there are so many decisions my husband would perhaps have taken that may not have paid off positively for the business. Women are more detailed than men. There are several things l see as an Executive Director that the Managing Director cannot see.”
Tolulope’s attention to details has also been an advantage in the running of RevolutionPlus. “I take my time to look at every document, no fraudulent deal can fly pass my table; they know it will be detected,” she said.
According to her, some women will not want to work with their spouses because of discouragement, as their husbands don’t encourage them by building confidence in their abilities.
“If you have an encouraging husband like mine, it makes things easier. My husband makes me feel that everything is ours and no one is hiding anything, but when a woman starts feeling that his man is hiding something and is not open about the business, she will prefer to do her own thing alone, Tolulope pointed out.
She, however, said “for every woman, when your man starts making you feel everything is ours, you start feeling comfortable and you will put all your energy because he will always tell you it’s your business. Your names are in every document, joint account, joint ownership, nothing hidden, everything is open, and you will work and make sure the business succeeds.”