- Onwuanibe founded the Landmark Group, a real estate development company that has expanded into several African countries.
- The Landmark Group owns the Landmark Leisure Beach Resort, which includes the Landmark Event Centre, Shiro Restaurant, Hardrock Café, a mixed-use tower with retail establishments, offices, a hotel, as well as residential and recreational spaces.
- The Landmark Beach has become the most popular business and lifestyle location on the West African coast.
Have you been to the Landmark Leisure Beach Resort? Maybe No. Maybe Yes. Landmark Beach is one of the premium assets owned by Landmark Africa, one of Nigeria’s top real estate and property development firms. And guess who the founder is? Paul Onwuanibe.
It is no secret he is the same Paul Onwuanibe you might have seen on “The Lions Den”, Nigeria’s adaptation of the popular Dragons Den. He is our focus on this week’s profile.
Paul Onwuanibe is a business tycoon and real estate entrepreneur. But what else do you know about him?
Paul Onwuanibe was born in Paddington, London, on June 29, 1965. He is the second of three children born to George and Dorothy Onwuanibe. His father, a diplomat, wanted his children to stay in touch with their Nigerian roots, so his children’s education would be a mix of both countries and cultures.
After Paul’s primary education and a brief stint at the all-boys Eton College, he was sent to the Federal Government College in Lagos to complete his secondary schooling.
After leaving secondary school, he returned to the UK briefly to bag his A-levels. When he came back to Nigeria, he attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and obtained his first degree in Architecture some four years later.
Again, he returned to London where he bagged a master’s degree in construction project management from the South Bank University in 1989. He then attended the Imperial College in London in 1990, and bagged another Masters’s degree, in environmental design and property development.
When Onwuanibe noticed that in addition to his architecture, he also had prevailing interests in Business, he went on to enrol for an MBA at the London Business School and earned an MBA with distinction in 1994. He also received the prestigious RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) certification.
Career and foray into entrepreneurship
Onwuanibe’s profiles mostly do not dwell much on his corporate career experience before entrepreneurship, but it is known that he had some work experience before starting his business.
Paul Onwuanibe worked as a Project Architect with Anthony Barber Associates, a UK architecture business in 1988. By 1991, he was with Beacon Housing UK as a Development Director. In 1994, he joined Regus Plc – a global serviced office company founded by Mark Dixon, and he worked as the Executive responsible for Property and Logistics. In the three years, Paul worked with Regus Plc, he opened about 200 branches for the business and travelled to no less than 60 countries.
In an interview, Onwuanibe would recount that his work experiences taught him a lot about
- “The property, human behaviour, city infrastructure, finances, supply chain, and the commercial needs of businesses in the global marketplace.”
Shortly after he turned 30, Onwuanibe started thinking of setting up a business. He was still living in the United Kingdom when he started developing a business strategy. What we today know as the Landmark Group started in the UK. After setting up in the UK, he started expanding and setting up other branches in countries like Germany, Spain, Belgium, the United States of America and France.
In the beginning, Landmark was solely focused on providing luxury office spaces in prime locations so that smaller businesses could access these spaces and boost the consumer image of their brand. As he would say, Landmark as a word represented “image, goal, and position.”
It took six years of operation before Landmark made its appearance in Africa with the start of its Lagos office. From there it expanded into Accra, Johannesburg, and Nairobi in 2006. Landmark Africa has launched several distinct African commercial, leisure, and lifestyle destinations after starting as a real estate development company.
But setting up a business in Nigeria is no mean feat for anyone, even Onwuanibe. He first had to deal with a seven-month delay in the paperwork needed to start the company, and this, in turn, delayed construction for about another two years.
After navigating the initial challenges, the Landmark Group has made significant advances in the business, real estate and hospitality sectors. Onwuanibe continues to ensure the growth and expansion of the company by reinvesting more money into it. He has raised in excess of $100m of funding for Landmark and grown the company to achieve a PWC-endorsed book valuation in excess of $300M.
The Landmark Leisure Beach
In 2007, Onwuanibe discovered a piece of undeveloped property by the beachfront along the Atlantic Ocean. Taking into consideration the infrastructure deficit, he set out to create a sort of choice location where people could conduct business, buy food and beverages, and also engage in leisure activities. It was, thus, going to double as a commercial and a leisure hub.
That space today houses the renowned Landmark Event Centre, Shiro Restaurant, Hardrock Café, a mixed-use tower with retail establishments, offices, a hotel, as well as residential and recreational spaces. It is truly a fulfilment of his idea to build a hub that had everything.
According to him, the beach is the ideal location to take part in a wide range of leisure and entertainment options suitable for adults and kids. The skyscraper was also designed to encapsulate the company’s philosophy in a single structure.
The Landmark Beach is like a single project that encapsulates Onwuanibe’s extensive experience in project design and implementation, plus his two-decade knowledge of the property management industry.
Little wonder that it has now become the most popular business and lifestyle location on the West African coast, according to the BBC, Euromoney, and African Property Investment Summit.
Paul Onwuanibe sits on several boards across Europe, America and Africa. He is on the board of MTN’s subsidiary Fintech Yellow Digital, Cancer Care Federation for West Africa, Lakeshore Medical Centre, Brookstone Properties, Kimberly Ryan, Carbon Micro Finance Bank & Stanmore Real Estate.
He also has significant charitable interests in Health and Education, and mentors a young leadership group operating in 3 continents.
Paul Onwuanibe is now entering the Venture Capital space and is one of the five lions currently in Nigeria’s Lions Den. Lions’ Den is a business reality show that gives budding entrepreneurs across Nigeria the chance to pitch their business to 5 successful Nigerian investors, referred to as Lions.
In addition to cash investments and equity ownerships, these Lions become business partners with whomever they choose to invest in and will help the young entrepreneur take their business to greater heights.
This is a unique way of adding value to the country, helping younger businesses survive and thrive, and also creating job opportunities for other youths.
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