Experts have predicted the real estate sector to grow by 5.2% annually to top $85Trn in 20 years. This lucrative trend, therefore, presents immense opportunities in Nigeria, as the economy stirs from the lull of COVID-19 and its particularly eventful repercussion on the economy and politics.
Currently, oil revenue in the world’s most populous black nation has faced a steady plummet, necessitating the exploration of other sectors for revenue. Likewise, enterprises have faced the increasing need to diversify, and real estate seems to be a viable investment destination or the most viable factor of production for reversing dwindling fortunes experienced by SMEs in Nigeria. Shakespeare once remarked: “I would give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground”. It’s no coincidence, therefore, that over 400 years after the legendary playwright, smart investors have continued to find an investment home in real estate for creating jobs, spurring development, and ensuring lasting wealth as the reward.
One such smart investor is Bella Olubunmi Disu, Executive Director of Cobblestone Properties and Estates Limited – a pivotal player in the Nigerian real estate sector, dedicated to developing and marketing world-class residential and commercial properties. Through Cobblestone Properties and Estates Limited, Mrs Bella Olubunmi Disu has cemented her status as a visionary who seeks to transform properties into value-creating masterpieces for residential and commercial occupiers.
Her attributes are not remote as she is truly a chip off the block. As the second daughter of Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr, Chairman of Globacom, Bella exudes the family values that have groomed her into a sector mogul in her own right and a beautiful model to Nigerian women and the girl-child of what’s possible if one possesses the temerity to follow one’s dreams and, more importantly, leverage opportunities.
For instance, Bella Disu is well-versed in the intricacies of providing luxury abodes for personal and business uses at choice locations. Her taste is a reflection of her polished exposure, and the confidence with which she translates her ideas into breathtaking real estate masterpieces, regardless of the particular constraints of the Nigerian business environment cannot be overlooked. Bella, for instance, continues to lead Cobblestone greater achievements with her wealth of experience in high-value contract negotiation and project management, making more prime properties such as Sisi Paris, Lagos and the Alliance Française Mike Adenuga Centre available to investors and connoisseurs of tasteful, functional real estate for living and business.
The completion of the Ile-Oja Opebi shopping mall in Ikeja, Lagos, is the latest addition to Disu’s impressive portfolio, following the successful launch of Sisi Paris, a 10-storey luxury apartment complex in Ikoyi, Lagos, in 2017. The magnificent property is named after Disu’s daughter, Paris. Mrs Disu is certainly not resting on her oars nor wearing undeserved laurels as she moves from project conception to completion, even while attending to her many duties and obligations as a director on multiple boards, executive vice president of a multinational telecommunication firm, wife, mother and daughter. The excitement that is sure to be felt after the completion of Ile-Oja Opebi is understandable, given the peculiarities and hazards of doing business in Nigeria.
Ile-Oja Opebi is a multimillion-dollar shopping mall that offers three floors of shopping delight on Opebi-Allen Road in Ikeja. It is designed to be a world-class retail destination providing shoppers with a unique and memorable shopping experience. Built to international standards with state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure. Ile-Oja Opebi is expected to feature a variety of retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment options, including a cinema, a food court, and a children’s play area. Ile-Oja Opebi will also have ample parking space for customers. The mall is expected to offer various floor space sizes ranging from 45 to 150 sqm on each building level. The shopping mall project will contribute to the growth of the retail industry in Nigeria, especially the local economy. With this new addition, residents of Ikeja and its environs now have more shopping options and retailers have a much more comfortable space to offer their goods and services. The aesthetically pleasing edifice also ensures that shoppers can park conveniently and shop with peace of mind.
It’s common knowledge among real estate experts, investors and financial institutions that the presence of such commercial edifice in Ikeja will spur economic activities and ease the burden on existing commercial enclaves and business districts in the vicinity. Incidentally, Bella reserves rich perspectives on her investments, as the aim is to create humanistic values, despite her commercial objectives.
A quote by Albert Einstein goes: “Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value. Look around at how people want to get more out of life than they put in. A man of value will give more than he receives. Be creative, but make sure that what you create is not a curse for mankind.”
That Bella was raised in an environment of creating values is no news. For instance, being raised by a father whose investments are not only strategic but provide impactful and essential services, it’s only normal for Bella’s perspectives to be zoomed on toeing that line. Therefore, her choice of luxury real estate for private residence and business was not born of chance or mere hustle.
For instance, Bella’s Cobblestone has been hard at work and has a collection of properties that reflect an understanding of its target clientele. Their residential properties are outstanding dwellings with exceptional designs and splendid finishing and reflect the sublime taste and a knack for classy comfort. Prospective homeowners and tenants in Lagos and Abuja can experience the fine residential properties in Cobblestone’s tasteful portfolio in locations such as Buraimoh Kenku, Moshood Olugbani, Agodogba (I and II), Banana Island Flats, Alhaji Bankole Street, Probyn Road, JDD Court, Niger Towers (Blocks A & B), Sisi Paris, Tony Eromosele and White Terraces, Abuja. These top-tier locations are buyers’ choice; especially for those looking to combine luxury with cost efficiency, resulting in great value for investment money.
Additionally, Cobblestone has some properties available for businesses, such as Ribadu Office Building, and the appropriately named Bella’s Place adorns Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island. The company also manages Conoil Mega Stations as part of its portfolio. Ile-Oja Opebi, however, stands as Cobblestone’s choice investment in Lagos Mainland. Likewise, it’s a strategic one, and proof of a deliberate widening of Cobblestone’s footprints to further leverage the ever-present opportunities in the Lagos real estate market.
The Mike Adenuga Centre is a cultural and linguistic centre that houses the Alliance Française de Lagos on Osbourne Road, Ikoyi. It has facilities that cater to language learners and art lovers, a cinema, a theatre, an Eric Kayser franchise as well as other businesses. The completion of this particular edifice brought great recognition, love and goodwill to the company and its leaders because of the selflessness and love of the arts that was built into the structure. Indeed, it could be said that the overriding purpose of that edifice was to further strengthen Nigerians’ access to French language learning facilities, art gallery, festivals and concerts.
Cobblestone also offers a creative mix of business and residential properties. For instance, The Pristine is a high-rise concept at Oko-Awo in Victoria Island that offers sixteen 2-bedroom apartments and a penthouse, along with servant’s quarters, for residential purposes. The commercial section has nine floors for office use and the facilities on the property include a helipad and 12 parking slots. Cobblestone’s facility on Ajose Adeogun, also in Victoria Island, also has a mixed purpose. It offers two office buildings and two flats.
Savvy business people can look forward to another shopping mall from Cobblestone Properties called Ile-Oja Victoria Island. Construction is also being concluded on this beaut of a building and business owners everywhere can create even more rewarding experiences for their customers and generate new converts when they key into the immense business opportunities that this shopping mall represents. Ile-Oja Victoria Island would be Cobblestone’s 20th luxury property holding.
With these milestones, it’s evident that Bella Disu is following in the footsteps of her father, Mike Adenuga, by demonstrating a strong work ethic and, quite true to type, a spartan lifestyle. Just like many successful entrepreneurs in her demographic, Bella has a deep-seated interest to lead global businesses that make a deep impact in a country with a peculiarity of short-lived businesses. Perhaps, the difference in Bella’s case – being a woman – is that she has thoroughly shattered the glass ceiling as far as a millenial woman running a top-shelf real estate company is concerned. Furthermore, she has certainly inherited her father’s impressive business acumen and leadership skills, through the deliberate osmosis of the transgenerational values of discipline and intense work ethic.
Nothing beats the experience of seeing your family members or mentees rise to success and break glass ceilings in their progression in life.
What would make an excellent heir or heiress? How can billionaire parents build their children to turn out as perfect as Belinda Olubunmi Ajoke Disu? The answer is in nurture. The Adenuga parents, Dr Mike Adenuga Jr. and the elegant Mrs Titilola Adenuga have put in good work in parenting their children, just as experts and evidence show that great parenting practice can have a significant impact on a child’s development. Positive parenting practices such as prioritizing good education, and providing emotional support that boosts confidence, also go a long way. In Bella’s case, her father’s success and influence likely provided her with a unique perspective and opportunities in the business world, while his support and guidance played a role in her success. The relationship between Mike Adenuga and his daughter Bella Disu is an example of the positive impact of fathering practices on girl-child development. This trend is likely to continue as Disu takes her parenting role very seriously, just like her parents do.
As a business executive, art enthusiast, and philanthropist affiliated with both the Nigerian Institute of Directors and the Nigerian Institute of Management, Bella Disu has the capacity, interest, skills, and experience to handle empire-sized businesses. In attesting to this fact, she also chairs the Board of Abumet Nigeria Limited, serves as the vice chairman of Globacom, and is a non-executive director at Julius Berger Nigeria PLC in addition to her portfolio at Cobblestone Properties.
Likewise, Bella Disu has been actively involved in several corporate social responsibility initiatives spanning education, health as well as arts and culture.
Furthermore, in addition to her business acumen, Disu is a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment. In her observation of the 2022 International Women’s Day, she noted that gender inequality would decrease with a focus on developing acuity in young girls so that their voices are stronger than ours when their time comes. She pledged to work with the International Women’s Society to make this happen. Disu understands her uniqueness, not only by circumstances of birth, a female child of a wealthy family but also in her successful play of overseeing her young family and family’s business. This uniqueness, coupled with her gender and age group, sets her apart in a deeply conservative and gerontocratic culture.
Disu was educated in Queen’s College and Vivian Fowler Memorial College for Girls Lagos, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Northeastern University, Boston. She remains culturally aware and is a patron of the arts, as evidenced by her inclusion on the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Wall of Fame and her tenacity in seeing the completion of the unique Alliance Française Mike Adenuga Centre. Additionally, Bella runs a nonprofit organization, the Bella Disu Foundation, which aims to improve socio-economic outcomes in vulnerable communities by contributing to education, health, and disaster relief programs in Nigeria. In 2019, she was honored by French President Macron when he awarded her the Chevalier dan l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and represented the Mike Adenuga Foundation in donating ₦1.5 billion to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria in 2020.