By Archie Preissman
On June 5th, I reported for my first day as a Summer Associate at Cytonn Investments. Cytonn Investments is a small boutique investment bank in Nairobi. The Kenyan 10-year government bond currently yields 13% and the growth per an annum in residential real estate in Nairobi is around 25%. So currently Cytonn Investments is allocating a lot of capital into the real estate market. In fact it is the biggest arm of Cytonn.
My current role here is as a Project Manager. My responsibilities include everything from approving models on possible acquisitions, going to site with the “clerk of works”, and most recently organizing our newest project, Cytonn Place.
Cytonn Place is the most complex project here at Cytonn due to its scale and multiple facets. It is currently designed to have 200,000 SF of retail, a 180 room hotel, 330,000 SF of office, 120 serviced apartments and 120 condo units. This is obviously a massive project and due to my background in organization I have been able to play a key role in the approvals process. We recently submitted documents for a change of use permit or a rezoning permit to go from single residential to mixed-use, after submitting we received approvals within 48 hours! Thank you Nairobi. We also just submitted our plans to County Council and had very positive feedback on our application to build 30 stories in a residential neighborhood. Organizing these processes and keeping track of the documentation has been the bulk of my work here at Cytonn.
Another major project that I have been involved with is a mixed use condominium building called The Alma. My responsibilities have included going to site with the “clerk of works” and inspecting the progress of the 400 condo units. My first visit to the site was absolutely shocking when I realized that they were using stone and mortar walls throughout all nine floors of the project. In the United States, you would expect all the non-loadbearing walls to be dry wall but here it is all stone and mortar.
My time here at Cytonn investments has really been incredible. Cytonn Place is simply a dream project. In the United States, the City Council would never be so open to changes in use and density but here in the developing world changes are always appreciated. Simply learning how the development process happens out here and how it differs from everything I thought I knew is incredible.
The Baker Program in Real Estate set me up for success. The other Summer Associate spent the first two weeks learning the difference between financial modeling and real estate modeling; me, I skipped that (Thanks Lebret!) The fact that I skipped the introductory modeling classes put me in a position where I could jump right to Project Manager while the other Summer Associate has still not received a project.