The Vogue described orange as the ‘new black’ during the New York Fashion Week.
Ms. Elizabeth Nkukuu, looked flawless blending the colour with white stripes, a radiating smile with her black hair shining with the afternoon sunshine.
She beamed with joy, enthusiasm, success and attraction as she moved from one table to another. Mingling with both the young and old.
The 37-year-old investor who is a partner, Chief Investment Officer at Cytonn Investments Management Ltd and Head of Real Estate was on a mission. She looked the part.
The company was unveiling The Ridge within their real estate portfolio, a development that aims at bringing together people from different walks of life to share a luxurious and convenient lifestyle.
“We are redefining real estate offering to our clients; we do not sell buildings or square feet; we are offering lifestyle products that speak to our clients’ aspirations. And for our investors, we are offering attractive investment returns backed by investment grade real estate products with strong uptake, capital appreciation and rental yields,” she said.
This is no mean achievement for Elizabeth.
She was named among the 2016 Top 40 under 40 women creating an impact to the society out of 650 entries.
Ochieng’ Rapuro, Managing Editor, Business Daily those who passed the score were women with, “The freshness of a candidate in their area of operation was a big score for each candidate. Ingenuity, performance and durability were big winners for those in contention as was the ability to demonstrate that they care for societies in which they live living which is what life is really about.”
“It is a great challenge and an honour to be among the Top 40 under 40. It was great and a big surprise. I owe it to the people I work with. People at Cytonn, people who have moulded me from when I started. It is not possible to do these things on your own,” she humbly responds.
Her quest for excellence, perfection and good results for clients, has made her clung to Cytonn, a company she co-founded with her Managing Partner, Edwin H. Dande, who was recognised by the Institut Choiseul of France among the top 200 young leaders in Africa under 40 who are “building the Africa of today and preparing the one to become in 2015.
Other partners include: head of private equity and real estate Shiv Arora and head of legal Patricia Wanjama.
“My next move is perfecting what I have done at Cytonn. I don’t think I will leave Cytonn. Cytonn is part of my life now,” she confidently states.
“For me it is look at what is best for Cytonn Investment and look for more challenges,” she adds.
For the mother of a 7-year-old daughter who comes in during the interview, “I live one day at time and taking the opportunities as they come,” an inspiration perhaps for her.
For women aspiring to be like and the rest who have made an impact in their field of work and society, she says it’s through hard work, and commitment to surmount the challenges that they can succeed.
“It takes a lot of work. Be determined. The challenges are there, but no one is short of the ability to do it. It is a competitive world, you have to keep at it, but it is possible, she says.
The Ridge, one of Cytonn Investment’s newest projects, is targeting the middle-income people. “There is a product for everyone, a scale upper different from the Alma project,” says Elizabeth.
Alma is a Sh3 billion project that will be completed in two years’ time. Amara was the firm’s flagship project, located in serene Karen and will cost Sh1 billion. There is an upcoming Sh4.5 billion, 30-acre Situ Village, also in Karen.
Their positive growth since inception in September 2014, this year they reported Sh630 million net profit for the 12 months ending December 2015, the first full year of operation for the firm driven by its investments in the real estate sector, where the firm says it has 14 projects worth Sh73 billion in development on more than 1,200 acres.
Elizabeth says what sets them apart from their peers in the real estate sector is, “The institutionalisation of what we have learnt and done in investment banking into real estates as asset class. We look at the real estate not as brick and mortar but as an asset class that people can get best returns for. For that case, we bring in aspects of corporate governance. Work that a person can do to the next level.”
Going forward, she says they have transformed the real estate industry in an investor perspective. “The opportunity is huge; we are looking at having projects in excess of KSH 200 billion. The market can take more than that for us we looking at the 5 percent opportunity in the sector across Nairobi and the environs.”
For a lady who started her investment career in 2005 at Pine Bridge Investments as an Investment Analyst with a key focus on Fixed income market analysis after graduating from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Science Degree (Actuarial Science) in the year 2005.
She also served as a Senior Portfolio Manager at British-American Asset Managers Ltd, an Investment Manager at GenAfrica Asset Managers (Genesis Kenya Investment Management Limited) in October 2010 as an Investment Manager from PineBridge Investments East Africa (formerly AIG Investments) where she was a Portfolio Manager.