Dr. Jayne Obioma Onwumere, usually called OJ Onwumere, is the Group President/Chief Executive Officer of PWAN Group. PWAN is an acronym for Property World Africa Network, the first real estate network marketing company in the world, started by her and her husband in 2012. In this interview, she speaks on her business and how she feels as she adds another year.
It’s your birthday. How does it feel to be an accomplished businesswoman?
It feels good. I give all the glory to God. But accomplished? I don’t know because as long as the vision of making home ownership a dream for many people is still in process, I don’t know if we are yet accomplished. Yes, God has done quite a whole lot. But I know that He still has a lot to do and we are looking up to Him and believing Him for more.
Your organisation is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Could you explain the theme of the celebration to us?
The theme of our convention is “One world, one network.” Initially, when we started what we could see was Africa. That’s why our name is Property World Africa Network. But on the 12th of March, that name will change from Property World Africa Network to Property World Affiliates Network. We have many affiliates now and we have those coming up in the UK, US, Canada, and all over the place. So it’s no longer about Africa; it’s now about wherever we have PWAN Business Owners (PBOs). So instead of One Africa One Network, it will change to One World One Network. There are other reasons for that choice. We believe that if we can’t do it for the whole world, we can do it for the PWAN Group, for the PWAN World. We can create something that can keep us together as one. We want a situation that wherever you are, you are a member of the PWAN family; we are just one.
How did you build this sprawling conglomerate from a very humble financial circumstance?
We wanted a situation where an agent can earn from the company directly, not sharing the commission from persons. I love network marketing so I created a plan using that reward system whereby an agent can earn from the company. So if you bring a transaction, you can keep the commission, then the company pays other people involved. That was just the simple idea that led to all this. That simple idea has practically revolutionized the industry. Today, that model has been adopted by all real-estate practitioners. Everybody is paying commission. Where one person used to carry and eat the whole commission, now they are paying it. One thing I have always done, as I explained at the seminar last time, is whatever you share multiples. That’s the funny thing. You think that when you share it diminishes. No, when you share it multiples. That is the simple model that this organisation built. From the first year of PWAN, I told the Chairman that we have to start creating affiliates. Between Chairman and I, I usually come up with most of the ideas that we run on. Up till today, I still come up with most of the ideas. I created the business model. Chairman is quick with execution. That is the winning combination. There are so many real-estate companies, but none of those companies make a lot of money in Nigeria. None of them is making the kind of impact that PWAN is making.
What impact has the PWAN Group had on the people, real estate, and the nation as a whole?
One thing that I know that PWAN Group had brought to many people is hope. Of course, in the real estate sector, we have changed the face of an industry in ten years of existence. And you can see that real estate companies are springing up practically on hourly basis because of this business model, because of the awareness that had been created by PWAN Group all over the nation. By the 12th of March, which is our tenth anniversary, we are going to have a PWAN presence in every state of Nigeria. We have instructed everyone that an office should be rented for PWAN in every state. From here, we will interview the people for the branch offices. And, from wherever they are, they will go to Abuja for their training, then go to their stations. We want to create hundreds of thousands of job opportunities all over the country. We have to create millions of opportunities all over the world. We know what to do; all we need is time and the favour of God. And the job? We are on it. The beauty of this organisation is that we don’t get tired of doing our job; we just have fun doing it. Sometime last year, I sent a quote to people and I said to them that, to invest in property is good but to invest in people is better. Investing in people sustained this organisation at a very critical time that competition was coming from the right, left, front, back and centre, and de-marketing the group.
You devote time to do philanthropic activities for widows. Could you tell us a little about it?
I don’t even do it annually. I do it monthly. I used to give N100, 000 to 12 women every month, to start up a business. I chose to do it with women because I noticed that a woman can achieve something with small capital than a man. For instance, this business started with N15, 000 we used in printing flyers. My husband was sharing the flyers. I give N100, 000 to 12 women, and next month I give to another set. That’s what I choose to do for women. But as a company, we do quite a lot. Like our anniversary, it is in the hands of the planning committee. They have chosen to do a lot for different segments of the needy. I know that a lot of lives will be touched through that. This time around, I will empower ten women from each state of the federation with N50, 000; that will be N18, 000,000 to mark our tenth anniversary.
You still look trendy. How do you keep your trendy look?
I have a caring husband. I have a stress-free home. We have a peaceful home. If there is good health and you have peace in your home, everything will be okay. Right? Everybody has one thing or the other to worry about.
But I want to say I don’t think that I have much to worry about. I have peace in my home. I have a great husband. I have lovely children. I have a business we like doing. I have faith in the organisation.
It’s only God who can help somebody maintain balance to have a level of equilibrium. I think that He is doing for me.