By: Dawda Baldeh
In this exclusive by The Fatu Network (TFN), we delve into the life story, challenges, inspiration, and successes of Banjul-born Gambian Real Estate Developer Saul Frazer, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Global Properties.
While attending the 4th Edition of the Africa Investment Forum in Marrakech, Kingdom of Morocco, Mr. Saul Frazer took us through his Real Estate journey, which started in 2007, leading him to break barriers and make a name for himself in the industry.
Mr. Frazer was born in the Gambia’s Capital City, Banjul, and raised in Latrikunda Sabiji in the Kanifing Municipality.
He started Global Properties in August 2007 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible housing to every Gambian. Seventeen years later, Mr. Frazer has become a prominent Real Estate Developer in the Gambia, and he is among the few delegates participating in the 4th Edition of the Africa Investment Forum in Morocco.
The Fatu Network used this opportunity to feature Mr. Frazer, who has raised the country’s flag higher at this event in its Exclusive Episode.
What Have You Learned From This Forum?
The Gambian Real Estate Developer responded that such gatherings present amazing opportunities for investors like himself as the event brings together multiple stakeholders led by the African Development Bank and Partners who aim to advance projects, raise capital, and promote private partnerships.
He said these are the kinds of gatherings that ambitious entrepreneurs need to network and speak to like-minded people.
“I am excited to be here and have learned a lot. The knowledge and experience gathered from this event will enable me to fulfill the projects I have for The Gambia.
My primary objective is to explore innovative ways of making housing affordable and accessible to Gambians, especially the youth,” he told The Fatu Network in an Exclusive Interview.
The prominent Real Estate Developer added that it feels great for one to own a home, especially at a young age because it allows them to positively develop other life ambitions.
“In a country where we have a shortage of fifty thousand homes, you cannot go wrong by focusing only on affordable and accessible housing.
Providing affordable housing is one thing, but making the housing accessible is another thing.
I am here to see all the possibilities that will enable me to provide long-term mortgage financing plans that will give Gambians access to buy homes and pay over a long period,” he added.
What are the challenges you face as a Real Estate Developer in Gambia?
Responding to questions on the challenges he and others face in the Real Estate Industry, Mr. Frazer said, “The biggest challenge we have when it comes to Real Estate is lack of regulations.
Nowadays, you can have a fifty by fifty meters (50×50) plot of land, cut it into pieces, and call yourself a real estate developer,” he explained.
To help address this issue, Mr. Frazer said the government needs to put stronger regulations in place that will serve as guiding principles for all.
For him, most of the victims of Real Estate Developers are people who used their savings to buy homes and that they need protection at all costs.
“The government should put stronger regulations in place to prevent everyone from jumping into the industry and ending up running away with people’s money,” he emphasized.
According to him, this can be achieved by making sure paperwork is done properly to secure people’s real estate investments.
He stressed that putting the necessary paperwork in place will prevent issues such as duplication of ownership or issues concerning rightful owners.
He believes that such regulations would play a significant role in making sure developers are following due process.
Mr. Frazer acknowledged that Real Estate Developers like himself continue to face these challenges due to improper regulations that must be addressed.
“You may purchase a property, get it leased, and meet all necessary requirements just for someone else to come and claim ownership of that property.
Therefore, protections such as property regulations are needed to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities and are treated fairly.
Once proper measures are put in place, we will attract investors easily,” he added.
How Do You See Foreign Real Estate Developers Dominance in The Industry?
The Global Properties CEO said he strongly believes in partnership, whether it’s a local or foreign investor.
He dismissed speculation that Foreign Real Estate Developers should be limited from investing or owning lands in the country, as such is not the best approach to take into consideration.
“I am the same person who is investing in Senegal and doing amazing things in Ghana.
Therefore, if I were to face difficulties as a foreigner investing in a country then I should expect the same anywhere else.
Creating a level playing field where the rules are clear and having Gambians as the forefront partners is a more conducive approach,” he narrated.
He went on to give examples during his business registration in Ghana where he was told that a foreigner investing in Ghana must contribute half a million dollars to have a hundred percent real estate-owned company.
However, he revealed that after partnering with a Ghanaian, the requirements went down to ten thousand dollars.
The Real Estate Developer suggested similar criteria can be considered in the Gambia where it won’t be too difficult, but priority is given to local over foreign investors.
He reiterated that this will also empower Gambians in partnering with foreign developers, which is a win-win situation.
“I will love to see Gambians being given the priority because our investments stay in our country. We invest in job creation and pay taxes that will contribute towards nation-building,” he noted.
What are Some of the Challenges You Encountered Before Reaching This Level as a Real Estate Developer?
Highlighting the existing challenges as a Real Estate Developer, Mr. Frazer revealed that he has been in the industry for seventeen years.
Like many other famous Real Estate Developers, the Global Properties CEO, said ten years ago people never heard about him or what he does.
He recalled that those were the times he spent grinding and putting the foundation for what he is enjoying today.
“Without that struggle, I wouldn’t be here today. It requires a lot of hard work, consistency, dedication, patience, and commitment to overcome the existing obstacles.
Over the years I have learned that challenges will come every day and it’s about how you respond to rather than reacting to them.
I have been able to respond positively. I remember coming to work from 7 AM to 8 PM daily.
I was the first to reach the office and the last person to leave every day because I was focused on achieving my objectives of creating access to housing. Our first campaign was “owning a piece of Gambia for every Gambian”.
Another challenge faced over the years has been access to financing for our developments. Progressive development requires a strong financial foundation that can uplift the industry and give us the chance to achieve our mission,” he added.
What Advice Do You Have For Young People?
He advised that young people should believe in themselves and pursue their areas of interest so that they can realize their true potential.
“If you don’t do what you love you will be wasting your time. A lot of young people these days want to get rich overnight.
It doesn’t work like that. Success is not fast-tracked. It is a combination of hard work, discipline, perseverance, and some luck.
Seventeen years and counting, I’m still out here learning new ways to improve myself and my business,” he urged.
He added that such platforms serve as an eye-opener. Learning about investment opportunities amounting to one hundred and forty-two billion dollars encourages young investors like himself that the future ahead is filled with endless possibilities and great potential for access to financing including startups. So it’s time to get onboard and get going on achieving your objectives.