When Uganda Investment Authority held its 16th Annual Investor of the Year Award Ceremony recently, one investor stood out prominently.
Tirupati stole the limelight after it was recognized for its distribution across the East African region. The award, an essay in its own right, was called ‘Introduction of a novel and competitive product in East African region.’ It was in regard to Tirupati Ovino Market, situated in Kisenyi, Kampala.
The Managing Director, Mr. Harshad Barot, explained to The Observer after the awards that the novel concept and idea behind Ovino Market and all their other projects are the condominium title and house or unit ownership.
In less than four years, Tirupati has already completed four projects: namely, Nkumba Hostels/Village; Ovino Market; Tirupati House, Mawanda Road; and Tirupati Bugolobi Executive Apartments.
The Marketing Director, Miraj Barot, said: “The novelty of our business is well highlighted in our published vision which emphasizes making a radical and mutually beneficial move in the industry by shifting focus from ‘build to rent’ to ‘build and transfer ownership.’
Our vision is to create a new and large group of home and property owners and reduce the burden of renting on the people of Uganda.”
According to the company’s website, http://tirupatidevelopment.com, Tirupati Development (Uganda) Limited was established in 2006 to undertake construction and real estate development business. It derives its name from its mother company in India, Tirupati Sarjan India.
Miraj is very keen to point out that they are real estate developers. They are neither constructors for others nor landlords living off rent. He says their mission is to create a new and large group of home and property owners and reduce the burden of renting on Ugandans.
The company doesn’t hire contractors but is a fully fledged development entity with all the necessary departments.
Tirupati Ovino Market was recognized as a great success in slum conversion development. With its 350 shops of various sizes, seven restaurants and a 50-room hotel, Ovino Market has transformed Kisenyi slum by raising the value of land and buildings in the area and creating an estimated minimum of 1,500 new jobs.
Miraj mentioned 14 ongoing projects that include Kiira Complex, Tirupati Legacy Agricultural Farm Kayunga, Half London Complex, Jinja Recreation Park, Mazima Shopping Mall, Biomedical Waste Management Plant, and Agricultural Produce Market Facilities (APMFs).
Miraj said a subsidiary company, Bio-Waste Management Limited, had been registered to set up an eco-friendly bio-medical waste treatment facility and efficient bio-medical waste management services in the country.
The project, situated on Gayaza Road, will handle any bio-medical waste generated by health care facilities, blood banks, pathological laboratories, animal houses, veterinary facilities, research organizations and pharmaceutical companies.
The project is being coordinated with the ministries of Health and Environment who are supposed to set up an enabling legal framework. Tirupati will charge a nominal fee for the service and maintain a transport and bio-waste depots network throughout the country.
Miraj said the first Agricultural Produce Market Facility (APMF) will be launched at Kampala Industrial Park, Namanve in three months’ time. This $20 million investment, intended to be a pilot project, will contain 400 shops, warehouses, cold storage facilities, banking halls and restaurants and serve as a one-stop centre for agricultural produce wholesale, retail and export.
More APMFs will gradually be established in districts to assist small-scale farmers with ready markets for their produce. District APMFS will also have market stalls and resting rooms.
Miraj disclosed that Tirupati has bought 3,000 acres in Kayunga District for an agricultural demonstration project that will bring in foreign experts to train Ugandans in modern farming methods. Local farmers will be apportioned land and be given skills to grow crops which they will sell through APMFs.
While observing that the demand for ownership of homes and other housing units is big and expanding, Miraj says it has been a tough struggle winning Ugandans to the idea of buying units in a condominium complex.
“At first many people could shun the suggestion of buying a housing unit not on the ground floor, calling it buying air, but now they appreciate the legal security of such forms of property,” he said.
Although The Condominium Property Act was passed in 2001 to encourage development of high density, high-rise housing types to meet the increasing housing needs especially in urban areas, it is only recently with the entrance of Tirupati into the market that many people have embraced it.
“Our style of business is customer friendly because after paying an initial deposit of 20% of the unit’s cost, we enter agreement that allows the buyer to pay monthly installments for the period the construction will last.
If on the way, the buyer gets financial problems, we help them get a bank loan using the condominium title so that they fully purchase the unit,” says Miraj.
“In fact from the time one signs an agreement with us to the time one gets their unit, the market will have gone up; so, it is as if we help the buyer to get interest on money they have not invested yet.”
“When one buys a unit, one enters into a culture with neighbours who they must respect. One if free to lease or sell one’s condominium title anytime.
Unit owners pay a monthly management fee which is collected by a management consultancy we appoint. We pay insurance for the general property but owners are advised to insure their own units,” he concluded.