Estaaron Ventures: Discussing Building Materials and Real Estate Projects in Ghana with Aaron Kofi Tawiah

Aaron Kofi Tawiah gives an overview of the building materials sector and real estate projects segment in Ghana, and presents Estaaron Ventures Ltd, a multifaceted construction firm with a focus on construction management, civil engineering, electrical works and supply of building materials. He also talks about Estaaron Courts 1 estate, and discusses latest news and upcoming plans.

Aaron Kofi Tawiah, CEO of Estaaron Ventures Ltd

Interview with Aaron Kofi Tawiah, CEO of Estaaron Ventures Ltd

Give us an overview of the building materials sector and real estate projects segment in Ghana.

The price of building materials in the market is now very competitive, and very tight, as they have jumped after COVID. That is because there are a lot of producers in the system, a lot of cement brands, and a lot of different companies producing iron rods, so it is a very competitive market. That means you have to have a strategy and you have to have a product and a service, and these are the things that we are combining to reach out to our clients. When it comes to the construction aspect, there are a lot of estates in Tema and the most valuable estate to live in is within TDC and HFC estates, around Community 25 estate, because it is in a very big enclave, which is very good. But our main goal is to provide a quality and affordable housing service to people. I was a pure construction man before I did construction materials, which I have done over a period of 10 to 15 years, and now I am coming back to my dream which is construction. That is why we are coming in to provide quality housing units at a very competitive price.

Why should people choose Estaaron Ventures Ltd?

When it comes to the construction materials section, we have prompt delivery. When we started the cement business about 10 or 15 years ago, we were buying and selling, and then we got into distribution. You order cement in Kumasi and it takes five days before it is delivered. We were able to invest in trucks and now, when people order cement, we deliver it promptly. Because of our service, we have a lot of people come running to us to buy cement. When you pay money to Estaaron, you need cement in the next 24 hours and your cement will be at your location. We understand construction. We realize that, in Ghana, many people want to buy cement, iron rods, and basically buy as laymen because they don’t know the position or where to use it, etc. So, in essence, when you buy cement, we ask: are you going to do concrete work, are you going to do plastering work, are you going to build blocks? In every stage of work, cement is required, and this is what we offer. When it comes to real estate, what we realize is that, in Ghana, many people are building but they are not contractors. We are construction people and therefore when we are putting up a house, we make sure we are not paying an ordinary artisan to put up a structure for you to sell. On my estate sites, we are putting up a building as if it is ours, not because it is for market. We are building it as if it is something for us to stay in. We take details of every step of the construction to make sure the client can certify it and we try to offer affordable pricing as well. That is the essence of the marketing strategy we have.

What is your competitive advantage?

About five months ago, we took a decision to provide estates for Ghanaians. We intended to put out a simple, unique townhouse. The site is situated in a gated community already, but our estate is also gated, so what that means is you are living in a double-gated community. We provide services such as 24-hour security and cleaning services. We are also providing a solar system which is going to run concurrently with ECG. We know that, in Ghana, the consumption unit of power is very expensive, so we have designed it in such a way that parts of the house run through solar. Most of the estates you go to in Tema run on ECG, and that is why we are trying to offer something different to any other estate developers. This is new and we are starting with six units. In the same enclave, we are going to do some studio houses, and, from there, we are planning a big community which will have a mix of every class of people which will happen very soon in Prampram. Basically, this is our vision when it comes to the real estate section of our project.

What are some of the features of your buildings in Estaaron Courts 1 estate?

A lot of them are stone designs. The kind of security you see on estates is normally one door, but when you go to our estates, there are two. What it means is that you can open your door but there is still one security gate. When it comes to the porch of a building, we combine polished wood and glass to give you a very beautiful balcony. And on the balcony, there is a sliding glass door to the master bedroom. When you enter the bedroom, you also see a very beautiful design of p.o.p. plaster board and a unique lighting system. We are using a technician Porta door internally, which comes together with frame, lock, and everything set. It also has a very unique touch of wooden texture. We also contacted Haiflow Sal in terms of providing quality sanitary rolls and tiles. So, when you enter into our estate, you will not see an ordinary tile that you can buy on the market, but you see a tile that was purchased from a branch which has a high-quality name in the Ghanaian market. These are some of the things that you will see when you enter Estaaron Courts 1.

Are you looking for investors, and if so, what kind?

We are open to having investors in terms of partnerships and in terms of equity. We are looking at those options because construction in Ghana is expensive. That is because most of the raw materials we have here are quite expensive, therefore the cost of labor in the construction of a house is quite high. So, we are interested in partnerships with other investors, whether in equity or project equity, etc. In every area, we welcome the investor that can come and leverage on our vision, so we can grow together and share profits. We are open to those kinds of investors to come in.

Is there something in particular that you are really proud of?

What I am really proud of is that I have worked in a construction company for years, Krane Construction Ltd. My former directors nurtured me and at a point in life I took that experience to start Estaaron Ventures Ltd. It was not an easy step to take. Starting your own company is tough. We had challenges, but we have learned to become the company that we are, and entering into estates is something that I am really proud of. At the time I left, it was not easy to start a business in Ghana and we started from scratch. We started with our sweat. We are not there yet, but this is a success because up until now people have doubted that we would be able to come this far.

What are your plans regarding the preservation of the environment in your estates?

We want to keep the environment green and therefore that is why we intend to use solar. It can run your ordinary lights, your fans, and everything can work on sun energy. We are going to plant grass all over and also put in some flowerpots to beautify the whole place. Basically, we have realized that, traditionally in Ghana, we used to like big houses, but when you check on estates in Europe, people don’t waste land, they don’t build huge buildings, and we have taken that into consideration. That is why to build in TDC, HFC and 25 estates, the cost of one plot is between $30,000 and $70,000 depending on the location. The units are quite unique and are smaller in size. They are very spacious, and we don’t want a situation whereby people have to use generators because that would pollute the atmosphere, so we decided to go green so that every client can enjoy the environment. We also take into consideration that, in Ghana, the bigger the house the bigger the maintenance costs, and since we are providing the maintenance for clients, we intend to reduce their costs and ours as well. Which is why we are designing our housing in a very unique way so that it will be easy to maintain. One of the unique aspects of our houses is the ventilation space. Our openings are very big, and we have done a lot of ventilation openings around the buildings so that you can easily open up your windows and have some fresh air running through your house. That is some of the uniqueness you will find in Estaaron Courts.

What is your vision for Estaaron Ventures in five years’ time, and what do you want to achieve?

In five years’ time, when it comes to the main business of selling construction materials, we want to be visible in all the regions in Ghana, of which we have already achieved about 60% of it, so we are ready to expand. Currently, we are refurbishing some of the old shops that we have to enhance our brand and we are identifying new places that we want to go to. We have a branch in Tamale, and we are currently refurbishing in Kade. We did not use to have a branch in Kumasi and Techiman, but now we do. So, basically, we are growing, but we are growing very cautiously. In business, even though you have a dream and you want to grow, you want to find a space that you can control. If you have a business in a space that you cannot control, you end up with losses. When it comes to the vision of estates, we want to see our next five years providing very unique housing to the Ghanaian community and those living abroad. Something else we want to do in the next five years is build more than 150 houses. That is where we want to see ourselves.

Are there plans to expand outside of Ghana?

We have 11 branches across Ghana, and we are also planning a partnership branch. When you go to a city and you are new and there are businesses that don’t have the finances to buy materials, we want to contract with them to bring in the material. In some areas it is very difficult to plant a brand. But there are areas you go to and do feasibility studies where you know you have the power to grow. For example, when I find areas where I want to open a branch and I do a feasibility study, if I find particular companies and particular people there, I don’t open a branch because I know they are going to give me competition. In this industry, some are bigger than others, so when you go out into the world you must be cautious and play the game around where you think you can dominate. Where you think you cannot dominate, you don’t just open branches to make up the numbers. We are doing business for profit to make sure we pay our way and can invest back into the business. These are things I look at when doing feasibility studies on branch openings.

On a more personal note, what drives you?

What drives me in life is that when I wake up every morning, I always know that there is a lot of dependence on me. I got my inspiration from my mom. She was a businesswoman before she passed away two years ago. Everyday, when I look at myself before I go to work, I look at trying to make an impact on society. I try to get people a job who I know have been deprived of one and really need a job, and when you give them one, they do it diligently. I also look at people who depend on me. My family, my extended family, my friends and my neighbors, and at any point in time if I stop working it would be very difficult for these people to move on. This really inspires me. To make a change in my community, to put a smile on peoples’ faces. There is one thing I have learned and that is to only do things according to my means, because if I don’t, the system breaks down and everything is off. My advice to people is that, in this business, we should always do things according to our means.

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