(CNN)It’s already home to the world’s tallest buildings, biggest shopping malls and largest man-made islands.

Now, Dubai can claim yet another superlative — the “world’s largest indoor theme park.”
IMG Worlds of Adventure, an amusement park that cost more than $1 billion dollars and took three years to build, opened its doors to the public on Wednesday.
The park is as big as 28 football fields, measuring some 1.5 million square feet in size.
“We wanted this to be an icon for Dubai itself and an icon for the region,” says Lennard Otto, CEO of IMG Worlds of Adventure. “And opening the world’s largest indoor theme park seemed very fitting for this market.”
MORE: Six outrageously opulent Dubai experiences
Ride on the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide
Later this year, the even bigger Dubai Parks and Resorts development is set to open just outside the city.
That park — built at a cost of more than $3 billion dollars — includes LegoLand, a Bollywood-themed zone, and a water park.
The new theme parks are part of Dubai’s plan to boost tourism to the United Arab Emirates amid plunging oil prices in the Gulf.
As many as 18 million visitors could visit Dubai’s amusement centers by 2021, according to analysts.

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A shopper takes a seat during the ‘slow shopping’ service.

Image: sainsburys

LONDON Shopping isn’t necessarily the most relaxing experience. But one UK supermarket will be slowing down the pace for two hours each day to help elderly customers and people with disabilities.

Sainsburys in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, is trialling a new concept called ‘slow shopping’, tailored to accommodate the needs of these two populations.

Slow shopping will be run at the store every Tuesday from 1pm to 3pm. People using the service will be greeted at the store’s entrance, where a Sainsbury’s employee can help them with their shopping.

Chairs will also be placed at the end of aisles to help people who struggle to stand for the duration of their shopping trip. The store’s help desks will also be serving samples of cakes, biscuits and fruit to shoppers.

The idea was spearheaded by local resident Katherine Vero, who found it challenging to go shopping with her mother, who had dementia. After her mother passed away, Vero was inspired to create a slow-shopping service.

My mum used to love shopping, but as her dementia developed it became increasingly difficult and stressful for us both,” said Vero in a statement.

“But I didnt want her to stop going out and become isolated. I wondered if there was a way to help us enjoy shopping.”

According to research carried out by Alzheimers Society, 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia and 80 percent of people with the condition say shopping is their favourite activity.

The experience of deputy store manager Scott McMahon of helping his elderly parent while shopping opened him up to the approach by Vero.

“When my father developed cancer, I saw how hard he found shopping, yet he still wanted to go to maintain his independence, so when Katherine approached me about trialling slow shopping, I was keen to help,” he said in a statement.

Sainsbury’s isn’t the only store to adapt to its customers’ needs. Earlier this year, a supermarket in Manchester launched a ‘quiet hour’ for autistic shoppers.

With the slow-shopping trial in full swing, Vero is hoping the service will be rolled out to stores nationwide.

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Here come the fashbots, and this time they might actually be useful.

Facebooks seemingly half-baked chatbot platform soured many on the potential of conversation user interfaces. The first bots built by outside developers back in April were clumsy and more trouble than just using a website. So Facebooks Creative Shop is getting involved, working with bot creator and the Tommy Hilfiger fashion brand to make a flagship chatbot worthy to point to.

The TMY.GRL A.I. Messenger Bot will promote todays debut of Tommys capsule fashion line for supermodel and social media star Gigi Hadid. People can discover it by tapping the message button on Tommys Facebook page or posts, opening a shortlink URL or scanning its Messenger QR code.


Through the bot, fashionistas can type questions or select pre-made queries to learn about Gigi, see behind-the-scenes content from the collections runway show event and, most importantly, shop for items from the nautical-themed clothing line.

Facebook still hasnt built a native checkout and payment flow into its Messenger bot platform. Shoppers will be linked out to Tommy Hilfigers website to put in their credit card details and confirm purchases. While that might give brands a deeper sense of control over the experience, it likely also reduces conversion rates as leaving Messenger gives them a chance to get distracted or reconsider buying something. Its something Facebook will hopefully build soon.


Iasked why the company is diving into the unproven world of bots, Tommy Hilfiger himself told me Were really focused on going directly to the consumer. We are obviously distributed in our own stores and in department stores, but going directlyto the consumer is really part of the motive and the future of the omni-channel process.

Puneet Mehta, CEO of, explains that consumer goods companies are attracted to bots because of the relationship aspect, not just sales. If they can create a memorable, interactive experience with their brand instead of just one-way marketing, customers will keep coming back. Thats why Facebooks marketing experts from its Creative Shop, which typically help out advertisers, got their hands dirty on developing this bot.


How did a 31-year-old company come up with the idea for a chatbot? Hilfiger tells me it started with a conversation I had with Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. We talked about innovative ways to enhance the shopping experience. Were always a bit ahead of the curve.


Chasing new technologies hasnt always panned out. While Tommy Hilfigers Instagram and Snapchat strategies have been a success, 25 years ago it unsuccessfully tried to build touch-screen vending machines. Hilfiger explains that We had lots of trials and tribulations with that. The credit card system was working, the touch-screen heated up.

But now he feels that by relying on a dependable company like Facebook, theres less to worry about and more to gain as customersembrace new ways to shop.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-2-17-26-pmTommy Hilfiger CMO Avery Baker tells me that one of the things thats always been important in fashion is customer service and the experience in a store. TheTMY.GRL A.I. Messenger Bot will try to answer peoples questions and offer a more immersive, responsive feel than shoppers usually get online.

The bot will try to capture some of the personality of talking to Gigi herself, while remaining transparent that theres not a human on the other end. No one wants to feel like theyre being spoken to by the corporate animal, Baker admits.

Fashion still seems like an unlikely candidate for chatbot success. People cant touch or try on the clothes, and the bot doesnt know enough about the users style to make smart recommendations about which items they might prefer.

But Hilfiger believes this brand-specific bot could perform better than multi-brand retail shopping bots like Spring, which launched with the Messenger bot platform and was quickly proven confusing and unconvincing.


Tommy Hilfiger (center)

I think if youre an established brand and the consumer is familiar with the brand, they have confidence that that certain cotton or cashmere or denim is the quality that would be acceptable, that they would be confident that the fit would be okay, Hilfiger concludes. Theres a lot of different reasons why people shop online. Now they can receive shipments, try on items, and send back what they dont accept. They dont necessarily need to touch and feel.

At the very least, Tommy Hilfiger could use the campaign to lure people into messaging their bot first. Thats critical, since Facebook Messenger only lets brands message people whove already pinged them. Getting conversations started is essentially the new version of getting people to Like your Facebook Page. Better to build an audience early than get left behind.

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Ever wanted to be locked in a shopping mall when you were a kid? Well, now you can LIVE in one if you’re based in Rhode Island. The Arcade providence, America’s first indoor shopping mall that was build in 1828, has been repurposed into a residential structure with 48 low-cost micro-lofts since it fell into decline in the late 20th century. The mall was transformed at a cost of $7 million by Northeast Collaborative Architects

Starting at $550 a month, residents can rent a one-bedroom unit from 225-800 sq. ft. Each apartment contains a kitchen, full bath with shower, built-in beds, seating and storage. There are no stoves in the units as they are designed for the people who lead busy lifestyles but the tenants can eat at freshly designed restaurants on the ground floor and enjoy vibrant evenings in a shared lounge. There’s also a shared laundry facility and a bike storage room as well as parking garage across the street. Would you live in such an apartment?













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 Image copyright PA

Some very big changes are now in the pipeline for the way people use their bank accounts and the way banks charge their customers.

The aim is to help people save money by encouraging them to change their banks, especially if they are likely to go overdrawn.

The plans come from the Competition and Markets Authority, which has the power to enforce its proposals.

They are the result of its two-year investigation.


 Image copyright PA

The big idea is that something must be done to break the inertia of the UK banking public.

Just 3% of individuals and 4% of businesses switch their banks in any one year.

The CMA has already come to the conclusion that there is not enough competition to pressurise the banks into offering significantly better or cheaper services than their rivals.

In effect the big five banks – RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander – plus the Nationwide building society have their own huge, but largely captive, markets.

So the aim is to make it easier for people to switch banks and accounts, and to encourage them to save money by finding a better deal.

“The older and larger banks, which still account for the large majority of the retail banking market, do not have to work hard enough to win and retain customers and it is difficult for new and smaller providers to attract customers,” the CMA says.


The other big issue is one that has dogged the industry and its customers for many years – the ability of banks to charge more or less what they like if you go overdrawn without permission.

In 2009, the Office of Fair Trading (now part of the CMA) failed completely in a legal challenge which would have overthrown the right of banks to set their own charges as they saw fit.

Now the CMA is ordering the banks to set their own monthly cash limits – a monthly maximum charge – on just how much they can charge if you go into an unauthorised overdraft – going into the red without asking your bank in advance.

 Image copyright PA

Of course that doesn’t go as far as a regulator being allowed to set a monthly limit on overdraft fees and charges.

But the fact there will be some sort of stated cash limit will make things clearer.

“Many personal customers, in particular overdraft users, could make significant savings by switching to a different current account,” says the CMA.

That particular change should happen by September next year.


To encourage customers to switch or shop around, the CMA is ordering the banking industry to embrace the idea of Open Banking.

That means the financial technology industry is being invited to develop a computer application which will let bank customers run all their bank accounts, including moving money between them, even if they have several accounts spread around different banks.

 Image copyright CMA 
Image caption The CMA describes how Open Banking will work

At the moment the increasingly popular bank apps, which are issued by banks to their own customers for use on mobile phones, operate that bank’s accounts only.

This new, all-purpose, banking app should be able, the CMA says, to let customers upload all their banking details so that “authorised intermediaries”, such as price comparison services, will be able to tell them where the best accounts and services are to suit the way they typically save and spend.

The CMA hopes that this will encourage customers to move money around, either to avoid upcoming overdraft charges, or to gain higher interest on more generous accounts.


 Image copyright Reuters

There are quite a few other proposals, for instance:

  • obliging banks to publish more information on service quality
  • insisting that customers are sent occasional reminders to review their banking arrangements
  • and making it even easier for people to move their current accounts from one bank to another by improving the current account switch service, which was introduced three years ago.


The CMA has spent the past two years investigating the banking industry.

Its final report, published today, is just the latest in a very long line of official inquiries into the banking industry that have been held over the past 20 years or so.

But now the CMA’s plans have been finalised and published, they have various implementation dates ranging from the beginning of 2017 to the autumn of 2018.

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A Pokmon Go gym inside the Colonie Center mall in Albany.

Image: Colonie Center, Facebook

With the Pokmon Go fever still shaking half the world, there’s bound to be plenty of trainers at any crowded place, and businesses can either fight it or embrace it.

The Colonie Center mall in Albany has decided to make the best of the situation. As seen on Reddit, the mall built a real life Pokmon Go arena for players.

With little more than a large Pok Ball on the floor, a few cardboard posters and team flags posted overhead, the “gym” is little more than a marketing gimmick. But it’s a smart one. There’s bound to be plenty of Pokmon Go players there at any time (as proven by this Imgur gallery of the same spot), so offering these customers something extra is likely a good idea.

The mall is also organizing Pokmon Go events and giveaways, boasting “3 on-site Pokestops and plenty of Pokmon loose throughout the center.”

This is one of many examples in which the megapopular augmented reality game influenced actual reality. It saved an ice cream shop in Anacortes, Washington from going out of business, and a churros shop in Westminster, California added a Pikachu-shaped churro to draw in customers.

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Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, has announced the appointment of Elkin Pianim as a Director of the firm while Michael Chu’di Ejekam has been named a Director for its broker-dealer subsidiary, Afrinvest Securities Limited (ASL).

A Ghanaian national, Pianim’s appointment, the firm stated, further reflects the pan-African outlook of Afrinvest, which also has Ms. Fatumata Soukouna, a Liberian national on the board of ASL and Dr. Fidelis Nde-Che, a Cameroonian, as Chairman of its Board of Directors.

Pianim has over 25 years experience in the financial services sector, and has worked on several landmark projects across the United States, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe and Ghana. He is currently Founder and Partner at Serengeti Capital Partners Limited – an Accra-Headquartered financial services group engaged in consultancy and asset management – and his areas of expertise include consumer goods, natural resources, media and technology.

Also, Ejekam, has a proven track record of full cycle retail investment and development including site origination, equity investment, planning approvals, development management, tenant leasing, asset management and exit of the largest retail malls in Nigeria, Ghana, and the broader West African market.

As Director of Real Estate for West Africa at Actis – a $7.5bn private equity firm, which is the most active retail developer in Sub Saharan Africa – Ejekam originated over $700m in retail projects. These include the $130m Jabi Lake Mall Abuja project; $100m Ikeja City Mall Lagos project; Heritage Place, Nigeria’s first green certified commercial building; and the Accra Mall.

Ejekam also has significant experience in international real estate with a United States private real estate investment and development firm with interests in $2bn of real estate assets. He was previously a Wall Street Investment Banker at Merrill lynch in New York, and participated in $3bn of acquisition, LBO financings, IPO and leverage loans. See original posting here.


As a thought leader in Nigeria’s retail revolution, Michael Chu’di Ejekam watches the sector with a keen eye. As of late, many supermarket giants have turned their attention to Africa, hoping to become established and take advantage of the blossoming market. Out of the top 100 markets, Africa and the Middle East accounted for just 12% back in 2012, but by 2013, the number jumped to 15%, and by 2015, the regions were home to 16.2%. In this article, the Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog will examine several huge supermarket chains that have decided to center on Africa for growth, and explain why they’ve decided to do it.


At a recent summit in Cape Town, Wal-Mart CEO, Doug McMillon spoke about his overall goals for the company. “So sometimes people say Walmart is not really a growth company anymore. I want to say: Well, if we layer on $50 to $60 billion, would that count, in three years?” While Wal-Mart and its various subsidiaries are active on a global scale, McMillon says that they plan to put a broad focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. “It’s not only South Africa,” he said. “The whole region has something to offer.”


“By any metric, this is the best time to be in Africa,” explained Richard Brasher, CEO of Pick n pay, at the same consumer goods forum. “You can’t hope to control Africa or anything that happens in it, but what you can do is learn to adapt.” The company operates in Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia. Brasher said that one of the keys to success is recognizing that consumers in different countries have unique needs and preferences, and that businesses must adapt to them. The company’s present goal is to expand into Nigeria, but with a mix of both small and large shops to suit the needs of individual communities. His conviction unwavering, “We have ambitious plans for this continent, and we believe there’s a bright future,” Brasher added.


Self-dubbed as the “world’s largest voluntary retail chain,” SPAR has been very active in Africa for a number of years. The company opened its first Cameroon store near the end of last year and plans to continue growing its footprint in Africa in the coming years. SPAR recently ranked seventh on the list of growing retailers in Africa, after seeing more than a 10% increase over the course of a year. It also boasted the fourth-greatest sales in the region.

With the growing middle class and increasing urbanization, consumers are beginning to appreciate a more formal shopping environment. The population is also expected to double by 2050, reaching more than 2 billion people. As the market and need for more shops continues to boom throughout Africa, it will undoubtedly prove a wise a fruitful decision for these retailers to lay down roots now.


Take a moment to bookmark the Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog now, so you’ll always have access to the latest info on the retail market in Africa, as well as related data and events.


Michael Chudi Ejekam is known for his work in the retail development sector throughout all of Africa. He has had a hand in numerous projects, often with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and his motherland of Nigeria. AT Kearney recently published its African Retail Development Index and rated countries based on various aspects, such as market attractiveness, country risk, market saturation, and time pressure, to determine which ones were the most desirable for retail development. Which ones came out on top? You’ll find the answers below, in this Michael Chudi Ejekam blog.


The prior report listed Gabon as number five, but the recent increase in growth helped it earn the top spot this time around. According to the report, Gabon has the most stable middle-class, and one of the highest per-capita income levels of any Sub-Saharan nation, which sits at around $21,000. Moreover, newcomers to the market don’t face serious struggles due to heavy competition because it’s just now beginning to blossom.


For similar reasons, Botswana climbed from number eight to number two on the list this year. The country has a very diverse economy, drawing revenue from mining, agriculture, and tourism. It’s a natural place for retailers to head to, and many of the big players in retail have become well-established already. Choppies, for example, has more than 70 locations there. This makes it more difficult for a newcomer to get established, though companies with a unique proposition or product still do well and the market continues to grow.


GDP growth makes Angola a very attractive place to do business. In these terms, it’s one of the fastest growing areas, with a 7% annual increase. However, it is still small (approximately 1/8 the size of Nigeria) and the middle-class population is nearly non-existent. Businesses that do well in Angola recognize this, and tend to cater to only the affluent Angolans or the very budget-conscious consumers.


Despite economic struggles, Nigeria remains a powerhouse for retail development. The population is massive, plus the middle-class is large and growing. Many citizens still favor local shops and small outlets, but the increase in urbanization is changing this as well. Numerous malls have been constructed and big companies like Shoprite have put down roots. Companies that do very well right now are catering to the loyalty of Nigerians, and are using locally-sourced goods whenever possible.

These four countries beat out all others, including South Africa, in terms of desirability for retail development. As time passes, we’re sure to see great things emerge from these markets, and positive results from those who enter them with a sound business plan.


For the latest business information regarding Nigeria and all of Africa, be sure to bookmark the Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog today. We’ll be adding more articles on a regular basis, so follow along and catch the latest news and info here.

From the Michael Ejekam Blog: Succeeding in Nigerian Retail

Three Tips to Make Your Nigerian Retail Venture a Win

Michael Ejekam has experience choosing the best retail ventures throughout Africa and America. His experiences have served him, the companies he has represented, and individual investors well. This has also helped Michael Ejekam become known as a thought leader in the Nigerian retail revolution, but some of the expertise comes from watching what’s happening in other parts of the world, and knowing which business strategies help businesses succeed in unique economic environments. The retail industry in Nigeria is still strong and a good opportunity for entrepreneurs, but it’s important to include the following three things into your business plan as you start your retail company.

1. Be Prepared to Stay

“Make very sure Africa is where you want to be,” advises Christo Wiese, Chairman of Shoprite Holdings. He’s South Africa’s richest man, and weathering the conditions is easier for him, but he makes a fine point. All too often, new businesses are not prepared to accept losses with their gains. There will be times when business is slow, and smart entrepreneurs allow for this in their long-term strategies. When they come unprepared to stay, they exit the market quickly.

2. Take Advantage of Ecommerce Opportunities

The people of Nigeria love online shopping,  more so than the people of other nations. Only 60% of Kenyans use the internet for shopping, and in South Africa, the number climbs to 70%, but here in Nigeria, a massive 90% of the population shops online. Throughout the world, we are seeing a unique mixture, where businesses are providing a seamless experience from online stores to their physical locations. Managing Director at Netplusdotcom, Wole Faroun, says that the key is in incorporating point of sales (POS) systems and using them. Consumers can take advantage of being things online, but they also use systems in places like the movies, when they make use of a kiosk to purchase tickets and avoid a line. There are also companies like Amazon, that operate primarily online, but are branching out into small satellite stores, to generate more awareness for the brand and so people can experience the merchandise firsthand. “When you look at point of sale holistically, and as an e-commerce player you begin to see opportunities where you were not playing before,” explains Farun, “and if you start playing in those areas, you’ll see that there’s a win.”

3. Use Locally-Sourced Goods

Forex shortages have affected retailers quite a bit, but they haven’t affected all Nigerian retailers “A lot of retailers have been able to adapt, and some that initially pulled out have come back into the market,” says Obinna Onunkwo, a co-managing partner at Purple Capital. “Those of them that had the foresight to look for local alternatives, or local producers are doing relatively well – those that were not able to make that transition are doing badly.”

Michael Ejekam understands the retail environment in Nigeria and still believes this is a good time for people to begin a business, but also adds that much of one’s success has to do with the strategy a business creates. Although these three tips may not be a comprehensive strategy for success, it’s a good start for anyone looking to get into the game right now.

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Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog: Impact of Retail on Youth Employment

Through the years, Michael Chu’di Ejekam has had a hand in the development of several malls throughout Nigeria and Africa as a whole. These retail spaces aren’t just a sign of a growing economy, or even of improving lifestyles for people. For Nigeria’s unemployed young workers, they may be a sign of hope. This Michael Chu’di Ejekam blog explores the unemployment issue in Nigeria and how retail just might be a key piece in solving it.

A “Society in Danger of Destruction”

Not too long ago, the president and CEO of Dangote Group in Nigeria used that phrase to describe the difficult employment situation. Aliko Dangote spoke out about the dangers associated with unemployment in a 2015 editorial, which served as an open letter to the Buhari administration. Referring to youth unemployment (up to age 34)  as “the monster that has kept our teeming youths on the fringes of human existence,” he called for the administration to “slay” it. “Our entire society is in danger of destruction unless we pay attention to this huge segment of our young and jobless global population,” he added. Around that time, youth unemployment rested around 50%, an astounding level that no doubt contributed to countless other issues throughout the country.

Retail Could Help Break the Cycle

Naturally, as the population grows, so, too, does the unemployment rate. The good news is, retail could play key role in reducing youth unemployment throughout the country. Broll Nigeria recently held a roundtable discussion called “Retail Industry: 10 Years from Now,” and the industry experts concluded that retail could be the biggest employer of youths in the coming years. Bolaji Edu, CEO of Broll Nigeria, offered further insights into the industry. “Despite a challenging environment,” he said, “Nigeria still holds promise for investors who are willing to take a long-term approach on investments.” However, the government will play a large role in whether retail continues to expand and create jobs. “The outlook for the retail sector is largely dependent on economic reforms as well as the lifting of foreign exchange restrictions,” Edu added.

So, although retail may not be a magic bullet that slays the beast, it very much could be with the right governmental procedures and policies in place. This would not only impact the Nigerian youths of today, but will build for a better future for the country overall.

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For more information on the retail sector, business, investments, and news that matters to people throughout Nigeria and Africa, please be sure to bookmark the Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog now. We’ll be adding articles periodically, creating a searchable database of news, tips, and insights right here on this site.

Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog: Emerging Commercial Real Estate Trends

Michael Chudi Ejekam has been active in the commercial real estate market both in Africa and in the United States. With a core focus on selecting strong real estate investments, he’s had a hand in the creation of millions of dollars in retail space. Naturally, the real estate market in Africa is different than that of the United States, and the rest of the world for that matter, but we are seeing some global trends in how entrepreneurs are making the most of their space and paving the path to success. While the deals that Michael Chudi Ejekam helps bring to fruition are a catalyst, it’s the strategies we’re seeing implemented now that are helping businesses reach new heights in our increasingly connected world.

Shared Space

Although we’re all familiar with the model of having an anchor store or two paired with other smaller venues, one of the newest trends puts multiple retailers under a single roof in a shared space. It’s akin to a traditional market, yet in a formal retail setting. Google is one of the best-known brands to do this. The company launched an immersive shop inside Currys PC World, a London department store. The goal of the Google store was to give consumers a chance to try out Google products and truly experience them before they made a purchase. The company says they plan to open more using the same model.

Pop-Up Shops

Short-term spaces are nothing new, either, but we’re seeing more of them in the formal setting as well. While traditionally reserved for holiday or seasonal goods, and perhaps even a roadside stand could be considered the same, today’s pop-up shop is highly organized. The trend may have begun as landlords who could not fill long-term spaces agreed to short-term leases, but the concept has blossomed into certain venues only offering up retail space for short periods of time. There are now even companies that specialize in connecting landlords with tenants in a peer-to-peer marketplace. While still used for seasonal goods, pop-up shops have also become an attractive option for businesses that want to improve branding efforts or increase awareness of their normally online enterprise.

Commingling Real World and Online Experiences

Many of the big-name brands, like Target and Amazon, have started creating hybrid stores. These shops have a limited amount of merchandise, giving consumers the opportunity to hold and experience a product before they buy it. This is immensely important in the tech industry, and this is where Amazon shines. Their stores are primarily billed as bookstores, but they have Kindles and other devices, as well as classes on how to use them, so consumers feel more comfortable and familiar with their products. When shoppers don’t find the book they’re looking for in the store, seamless ordering is just a click or a tap away.

As emerging markets continue to grow, these trends throughout the world will likely come into play. Retail has come a long way, and these strategies will help usher them into entrepreneurial success.

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From the Michael Ejekam Blog: 3 Simple Ways to Go Green

Michael Ejekam was part of the team that brought Heritage Place to fruition. As Nigeria’s first green certified commercial building, it has paved the way for other buildings and raised the standards for commercial development. The building, itself, is sleek and modern, very much befitting of the busy commercial district it serves in Lagos and most people wouldn’t realize how much thought went into incorporating green features from the start. This Michael Ejekam blog will cover three of the ways Heritage Place went green, along with some insights as to why these changes are necessary for all structures going forward.

1. Recycled Water

There are two main kinds of recycled water; graywater and brown/blackwater. The latter tends to refer to water from toilets and other dirty sources, while graywater has less impurities and comes from things like washing hands. One may also think of harvested rainwater as recycling, simply because it can be gathered from areas that don’t need it and used in areas that do. Systems that recycle rainwater and graywater are becoming commonplace in commercial structures, built in from the start. The water is cleaned and then used for things like irrigation and toilets. The obvious benefit to this is that less drinkable water is needed for a building, and consumption can drop in the neighborhood of 20-30%.

2. Building Orientation

One of the easiest things for builders to take into account is the orientation of the building. This is a passive way to provide energy efficiency and keep people inside the building more comfortable. Simply by choosing the ideal shape of the building and angling it properly, the building can naturally minimize solar exposure. Heritage Place is set up this way, which reduces the load on cooling units throughout the building, so they run more efficiently and last longer, and it also keeps people inside more comfortable, with less effort. You’ll also note that the structure of Heritage Place has multiple jaunts and awnings, which helps minimize solar exposure as well.

3. High-Efficiency Lighting

Nowadays, we all know that the type of bulb used matters. The old incandescent bulbs are energy hogs and need constant replacement. Fluorescent lighting is a better option, but beyond this, LED lighting is the best available right now. The bulbs last seemingly forever and use very little energy, saving money on power, labor, and replacements. Heritage Place took this a step further and included presence detectors, so the lighting only operates when people are active and in a room.

These are three simple things that nearly any builder can do to help create a greener building, without having to spend huge amounts of money to make it happen. Moreover, they save on the costs of maintaining the building, which seriously adds up over time.

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The Michael Ejekam Blog will be covering all sorts of things related to green building, so be sure to bookmark this page now for easy retrieval later.

From the Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog: New Lagos Mall Opened

Michael Chu’di Ejekam has been involved in the creation of several malls, including the Ikeja City Mall and the Jabi Lake Mall, as well as the Abuja and Accra Malls. These kinds of projects are always exciting, as they show that investors have faith in the economy and they bring jobs and growth to the area. Although Michael Chu’di Ejekam was not involved in the newest mall to open in Lagos, Nigeria, it’s still good news for local residents.

The Maryland Mall is Open

Onikepo Akande, President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) spoke at the inauguration celebration. “It is my sincere belief that this new mall will help to expose and grow the manufacturing and commercial potential of Lagos state and by extension, the national economy,” she said. Anchored by a Shoprite store, with many other venues for entertainment, shopping, and services, the location is expected to do quite well. Many businesses are eager to take up slots in the 7,700 square metre property, including companies like Stanbis IBTC Bank and The Place restaurant. Akande gives credit to the team behind the new development, explaining, “Indeed, retail is one of the cornerstones of trading and investment, and Purple Capital, the developers of Maryland Mall, have done extremely well to give Maryland a new lease of life through this retail investment.”

It’s a Unique Structure in a High-Volume Area

The Lagos State Ministry of Transport carried out studies of the area, highlighting traffic patterns and the best way to position things. It’s estimated that 5,000 cars will pass by every single hour, which will bring people naturally to the mall throughout the normal course of their days. Unlike most structures being built today,  the Maryland Mall is built lengthwise, rather than reaching into the air. It also boasts a few unique features, such as an underground parking lot, which is the first one in the country. Developers has also included a massive 550 square metre LED screen on the front of the building, which is the largest in all of Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s estimated that the structure cost some $25 million to construct, and took roughly three years to bring to fruition, from the early investing stage through opening day. So far, it has been well-received by local residents, who have largely been treating visits as a family outing and appreciating the nice cool air conditioning.

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If you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment to bookmark the Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog. We’ll be adding all kinds of articles pertaining to retail, investment, and commercial enterprise throughout Nigeria and all of Africa. From time to time, we’ll also add in insights directly from Michael Chu’di Ejekam, so expert advice and opinions on the market will always be at your fingertips.

From the Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog: 7 Nigerian Retail Industry Facts

Michael Chudi Ejekam is an expert in Nigerian retail, investing, and commercial real estate. Presently, the growth of the retail revolution has slowed some, but it is still a very strong sector that is absolutely primed to take the country to the next level in the coming years. The Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog has gathered seven interesting facts about the market that sets Nigeria apart from the rest of the world. Take a look; you’re bound to see some new information.

Facts About How Nigerians Shop

  1. Nigeria is poised for growth where supermarkets are concerned. In Kenya, around 30% of the population has shifted to formal retail supermarkets and around 60% of South Africans have as well. In Nigeria, just 2% of the population makes use of supermarkets, which likely has more to do with limited options and accessibility than anything else.
  2. Nigerians with Internet access like the convenience of shopping online. In a study performed by PayPal, 90% of people used the net to shop in Nigeria, compared to 60% in Kenya and 70% in South Africa. Experts say that brick-and-mortar retailers can boost sales by commingling their options and by offering point-of-sales devices and customer-driven kiosks on-location.

Facts About Nigerian Consumers

  1. Consumers feel optimistic about their futures- more so than those in other countries. Almost three-quarters of people surveyed say their finances will be much better off in as little as two years. When consumers in other markets were asked the same question, just 66% of South Africans agreed. Only 52% of Kenyans could say the same.
  2. Consumers are both brand and budget-conscious. One of the biggest factors for consumers in the region when considering what to purchase is still the cost. A whopping 37% prioritize this over everything else. The second major factor is quality, with 31% saying they will go for a brand that they believe to be high-quality, often choosing the same option again and again because it’s trustworthy.

Facts About the Market

  1. Nigeria is ranked one of the top countries in Africa for consumer demand potential. The country trailed close behind South Africa and Mauritius, topping Morocco by one slot and Kenya by 12.
  2. The market lacks brand diversity. One of the biggest needs uncovered by research is that very few brands are available and the majority of Nigerians are willing to try new products if they’re high-quality and have a good reputation.
  3. Retail and wholesale make up a large portion of the GDP. The market presently accounts for 16.4% of the GDP and with urbanization and the population growing, is expected to continue to be a solid investment opportunity.

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For more interesting articles, facts, and statistics, bookmark the Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog. We’ll be updating the site regularly with fresh information and insights from Michael Chudi Ejekam, too.

From the Michael Ejekam Blog: 10 Fastest-Growing African Retailers

Being involved in commercial real estate and retail investments, Michael Ejekam is constantly watching the market to see which companies are performing well. While knowing which ones are profitable and are at the top help in knowing where to invest, watching companies as they climb the ladder is essential. This can give you keen insights into which strategies work, as well as what products consumers are demanding. The Michael Ejekam Blog has gathered information on ten of the fastest-growing companies in Africa’s retail sector, with statistics from Deloitte.

1. Choppies Enterprises Ltd

Headquartered in Botswana, Choppies is the fastest-growing retail company in Africa and also ranks 12 in terms of sales. Their sales jumped up 24.4% during the reporting period.

2. Zambeef Products Plc

Aptly named, Zambeef hails from Zambia and fell just behind Choppies in terms of growth during the same reporting period. An increase of 23% in sales brought the company to 20 on the total revenue list.

3. Mr. Price Group Ltd

The South African clothing and accessories retailer, Mr. Price, gained 15% in sales over the course of the year. This landed them in seventh place in terms of sales.

4. The Foschini Group Ltd

Another South African purveyor of apparel, The Foschini Group, took fourth on the fastest-growing list, with revenue climbing 13.3%, but topped Mr. Price in terms of revenue by one slot.

5. Woolworths

Internationally-known Woolworths took fifth place in both growth and total sales. The clothing company is headquartered in South Africa and grew by 12.7% during the reporting period.

6. Société Magasin Général SA

The only Tunisian company to make the list was Société Magasin Général SA, a general merchandise venue, showing steady gains of 11.3% and earning the 16th slot in terms of sales.

7. The SPAR Group Ltd

Though the SPAR Group of South Africa holds the fourth spot in terms of total sales, it only came in seventh place for growth. However, a comfortable 10.7% increase for such a large company is commendable.

8. Shoprite Holdings Ltd.

Another large South African company, Shoprite, came in eighth place for growth, showing a 10.5% increase. However, it beat out all other companies for sales.

9. Massmart Holdings Ltd

Massmart, headquartered in South Africa, fell just behind Shoprite on both lists; coming in number nine for growth at 9.8% and taking the second spot for sales.

10. Furnmart Ltd

The only home furnishings retailer to make the top ten is Frunmart, with 8.9% growth. The South African company comes in 23rd for overall sales.

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Looking for more information? We’re building a searchable database, packed will all kinds of information related to retail in Africa, as well as insights on the market, economy, and related industries. Feel free to browse our other blogs and bookmark Michael Ejekam Blog so that you’ll be able to see new articles easily.

Michael Chu’di Ejekam Presentation At Broll Convention

Michael Chu’di Ejekam delivered a presentation on the Broll event titled “Retail Industry: 10 Years from Now”. Michael’s presentation focuses on Nigeria’s retail development and is aptly named “The next generation of malls in Nigeria – the same? or Adapt?”. Check this slideshare for more information.

Download Michael Chu’di Ejekam Presentation HERE

Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog Presents: 5 Largest Retailers in Africa

As a thought leader in Africa’s retail revolution, Michael Chudi Ejekam constantly has eyes on how businesses throughout the region are doing. This enables him to keep a pulse on the industry and assess opportunities for growth, as well as offer advice to companies he consults, so that they may avoid the same pitfalls other enterprises have made. Like Michael Chudi Ejekam, Deloitte Global also offers insights into global matters for investors, and the group has recently published their findings for the top retailers in Africa. Here’s a look at their top five, as well as some background information on each.

1. Shoprite

Michael Ejekam’s opinions on Shoprite Holdings Ltd have been covered by the media repeatedly. The powerhouse brand topped the charts by bringing in $9.9 billion during the last reporting period.

2. Massmart

The Wal-Mart subsidiary, Massmart Holdings Ltd, has been in the news lately because it isn’t quite hitting the mark in terms of expected growth, but company officials aren’t worried at all. According to Bloomberg, Chairman Christo Wiese told an audience at the Consumer Goods Forum’s global summit  that businesses need to plan to stay for the long haul before setting up shop in Africa for this reason. CEO Doug McMillon also remains optimistic about the region. “South Africa is a terrific market and it gives you something to work with but our aspirations are for the sub-Saharan African region,” he said. The company hit $7.5 billion during the last reporting period and took second place.

3. Pick n Pay

During the same reporting period, Pick n Pay Stores Ltd reached $6.3 billion. The company recently announced that its profits were up a full 26%, and that it plans to expand. Their revamped strategy for growth includes expansion into Nigeria and opening 175 stores in various formats. The heart of it will be in Nigeria, with 51% of operations being held within the country.

4. The SPAR Group

Eyes have been on the SPAR Group Ltd, as the company has recently been working on expansion outside of Africa. However, Chief Executive Officer Graham O’Connor reassured Bloomberg in an interview, “The Southern African region is still our primary focus — we are seeing good returns in Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique.” The company brought in $5.2 billion and came in fourth place during Deloitte’s research. At the time of the Bloomberg interview, another 5% increase in sales was noted.

5. Woolworths

Recently named “South Africa’s Most Reputable Retailer” and reporting strong gains globally. Woolworths Holdings Ltd easily made its way into the top five. With earnings of $3.8 billion, the company beat out the next in line by more than $2 billion. CEO Ian Moir gives credit to clothing sales in South Africa, which recently jumped up 11.7%.

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To stay up to date on retail news, as well as industry-related info throughout Africa, please bookmark the Michael Chudi Ejekam Blog and check back frequently for updates.

Michael Chudi Ejekam Educates Public About Retail Trend Via New YouTube Channel

Expert retail developer and popular speaker, Michael Chudi Ejekam, releases new YouTube channel to share valuable insights and trends regarding retail development in Nigeria and beyond. Ejekam plans to share videos highlighting various retail establishments. To learn more visit:

New York, NY, United States – June 9, 2016 /PressCable/ —

Michael Chudi Ejekam, expert retail developer, shares his insights on market trends. Now investors or business owners wishing to build retail shopping malls or roll out grocery chains, have access to a new YouTube channel geared to educating about how to navigate the Nigeria market.

To Learn More Visit:

Challenges in securing land, equity and debt financing challenges, high construction costs and dearth of real estate experience have hampered real estate development in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. Michael Chudi Ejekam, real estate expert, aims to help commercial businesses or potential investors navigate the inconsistencies and confusion regarding real estate developments in and around Nigeria.

“There are sizable challenges to overcome but in many ways Nigeria represents the perfect storm for real estate investment; huge population, rapid urbanization and a growing middle-class,” said Michael Chudi Ejekam, former Director of Real Estate at Actis, a London-based $7.5B private equity firm.

Ejekam aims to share expert insights into the rapid development and expansion in Nigeria to include full cycle retail investment and development: site origination, equity investment, planning approvals, development management, tenant leasing, asset management and exits. Visit the new site now:…

Michael Chudi Ejekam Shares Insights on $1Billion Longer-Life Private Equity

Michael Chudi Ejekam, commercial real estate expert shares his insights on the recent Wall Street Journal article on the Atlas Partners Longer-Life Private Equity Fund which raised one billion dollars.

New York, NY, United States – May 26, 2016 /MarketersMedia/ —

Michael Chudi Ejekam, an expert private equity investor, provides insight on the emergence of longer-life private equity funds such as Altas.

In a recent article printed in the Wall Street Journal by Chris Cummings, it was reported that the emergence of longer-life private equity funds such as Altas recently hit a new benchmark by raising one billion dollars. Altas as well as other powerful groups, such as Blackstone and Carlyle, are working on similar longer-life funds. Longer-life PE funds allow managers to hold each investment for far longer than the typical 5-year hold period per investment and typical 10-year total fund life. In the Altas case, each investment can be held up to a whopping 17 years.

The typical “medium life” PE model has proven to be highly successful with attractive risk-adjusted returns, however, Michael Chudi Ejekam believes the model can be optimized, particularly in emerging market like Africa. “Following my several years of PE investing in sub-Saharan Africa, I am convinced that longer term life funds would be an improvement on the PE model for emerging markets such as Nigeria” Michael Chudi Ejekam explains.

“When a PE fund is compelled to exit after a 5-year hold period, though the returns may achieve certainly attractive 25+% gross IRR or 2.5 to 3 times multiple on equity invested, I believe tremendous additional value may be left on the table.” The expert demonstrated his point by saying, “Originating, executing and investment managing attractive investments is a challenging process – why be forced to sell/exit a highly attractive investment after only 5 years, only to be saddled with pressure to find another outstanding deal to originate to start the process over again?”

Of course, some other models have emerged to address the standard PE model challenges. For example, in the case when an arm of a PE fund family invests in greenfield deals seeking “opportunistic” higher returns, and the completed projects are transferred to “core” vehicles of the same fund family which are seeking lower, more stable, longer term returns. “It could be more powerful and efficient to have one fund vehicle simply hold the investment for the longer term”, said Michael Chudi Ejekam. This is especially important in emerging markets, where the deal process is more challenging and deals could take years to originate and close in the first place. There is also increasing investor interest and PE capital raised for Africa for example, therefore deals have become more competitive and could take years to originate and close. “After so much heavy lifting, why sell after only 5 years?” he asked. “I have been involved in a few highly successful full-cycle investments and exits – though the returns were highly rewarding and the possible carried interest/profit distributions exiting, the reality is that excessive additional upside was surrendered to the new owners.”

Charlie Munger, one of Warren Buffet’s longest serving colleagues is quoted as saying: “The ‘know-nothing’ investor should practice diversification, but it is crazy if you are an expert. The goal of investment is to find situations where it is safe not to diversify. If you only put 20% into the opportunity of a lifetime, you are not being rational.”

“Why sell after only 5 years if you are already enmeshed within a great investment?” Michael Chu’di Ejekam continued. “Part of the answer lies in the reality that PE funds need to demonstrate exits/returns to potential Limited Partners (LPs) in order to raise fresh investment funds, and LPs are accustomed to the well-defined and tested cookie-cutter PE “medium life” model.” Of course, there is a desire to exit to realize profits so that carried interest distributions can be made – the perfectly reasonable lifeblood of private equity, from which Ejekam has benefited. Thankfully, there are other acceptable avenues to achieve this objective. According to the finance whiz, longer-life PE funds would be an improvement for for emerging markets such as Africa. He thinks it would be helpful if more potential LPs bought into the concept and support the investment strategies of managers with longer-term views.

Mr. Ejekam offered a few closing remarks. “The most successful entrepreneurs and investors in emerging markets such as Africa, hold longer term views. They do not think in 5-year chunks. They think in terms of decades. This is how to generate outsized returns.”

About Michael Chudi Ejekam

Michael Chudi Ejekam is an honors graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a BSc in Economics, with a concentration in Finance. His early days were spent on Wall Street, as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch, after which he moved into private real estate investments in New York, and then onto work with Nigeria’s Actis. During his seven-year tenure as their Director Real Estate for West Africa, he became known as a leader in the “retail revolution,” helping to bring multiple million-dollar malls into underserved areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

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Michael Chudi Ejekam Comments on Resilience of Shoprite’s Earnings in Nigeria

Michael Chudi Ejekam, Expert Retail Developer, Comments on Shoprite’s strategy to be successful in Nigeria’s emerging market.

New York, NY, United states – May 3, 2016 /PressCable/ —

Chudi Ejekam, a recognized authority in retail real estate investment, comments on the resilience of Shoprite’s Nigeria earnings despite foreign exchange controls and a sharp drop in crude oil prices. Shoprite is Nigeria’s largest hypermarket by sales volume.

According to the Bloomberg article, derived from Shoprite Holdings half year financial results for the period ending Dec 31st 2015: “Nigeria showed healthy sales growth despite a slump in the price of crude oil and foreign exchange controls”, Basson said.

The retailer plans to open six Nigerian stores by December, adding to the 16 currently trading, and will also set up a distribution center in Lagos in the next couple of months to improve product availability. The Nigerian government depends on crude oil for over 70% of its revenues and over 90% of its foreign exchange earnings – therefore; the steep drop in crude oil prices had dealt a major blow to the country’s foreign reserves and had put the Naira under great pressure versus the U.S. dollar.

As Michael Chudi Ejekam explains, “as a countermeasure, beginning in June 2015, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced a ban on the ability to access foreign exchange via the official exchange rate to purchase 41 items. The CBN also introduced other measures to essentially ration foreign reserves, making it more difficult for many businesses in Nigeria to secure U.S. Dollars to import key inputs. Many retailers, especially those that were import-dependent were hit hard, and have had challenges securing the Dollars to replenish their stock. Further, the sharp drop in the parallel market Naira exchange rate, meant that certain retailers effective dollar revenues from Nigeria sales would be reduced, with many being compelled to raise their prices materially. Shoprite on the other hand, secures 76% of the items that it sells in Nigeria from local suppliers, of which 38% are manufactured locally. Therefore, Shoprite’s results have been relatively insulated from the foreign exchange shocks and Shoprite avoided material price increases. The resulting earnings, demonstrate that Shoprite’s business model is smart and defensive and well suited for an emerging market like Nigeria. Other retailers should pay close attention…and learn!”

About Michael Chudi Ejekam

Michael Chudi Ejekam is a renowned leader in the “retail revolution”. He is a widely quoted retail thought leader, with strong local business and government relationships. Michael Chudi Ejekam served as Director Real Estate for W Africa for Actis, a $7.5 B private equity firm- most active retail developer in Sub-Saharan Africa (ex SA) for 7+ years. Ejekam originated $700+M in retail projects. Projects include $100MIkeja City Mall Lagos, $120M Jabi Lake Mall Abuja and Accra Mall. Other projects include Heritage Place, Nigeria’s first green certified commercial building. Originated three upcoming Nigeria malls ranging from $150-185M each totaling over 40,000m2 each, which would be largest in the region.

Michael Chudi Ejekam started his career on Wall Street, as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch in New York.

He graduated with Honors from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, with BSc in Economics with a Concentration in Finance. He received the Howard E Mitchell Award for academic excellence and extracurricular contributions. Learn more about Michael Chudi Ejekam here.

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Michael Chudi Ejekam, Retail Developer, Extols Future of Pick N Pay in Nigeria

Expert retail developer, Chu’di Ejekam, praises the possibility of Pick N Pay and the future of the retail market in Nigeria and Sub Saharan Africa.

New York, NY, United States – April 28, 2016 /PressCable/ —

Michael Chudi Ejekam, a recognized authority in retail real estate development, discusses a recent article about the planned entry of a major grocery chain into Nigeria and the problems faced by prior attempts by other retailers.

Ejekam says, “Though some retailers have struggled and exited the Nigeria market, those with the appropriate business models can survive and thrive. In many respects, Nigeria represents the perfect storm for retail as well as real estate investment; Large and growing population of 180 million, burgeoning middle class, rapid urbanization, high growth in household consumption. The same positive trend applies to many markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria’s population is forecast to grow to 400 million population by 2050 in a land mass about 30% larger than the US state of Texas.”

Nigeria is the largest retail market in Africa with nearly $200 Billion annual total retail sales forecast for 2016. Only 5% of groceries sales, for example, is via formal retail channels. Kenya, in contrast, has 30% formal penetration.

Ejekam continued to say, “Despite huge demand versus supply imbalance for Nigeria retail; retailers struggle to scale. Retail scalability is limited due to challenges in securing land, high construction costs, difficulty in securing equity and debt financing, high rental rates, the dearth of development expertise, limited pool of tenants with appropriate business models for the country”.

The impact of the underdevelopment of retail is felt by the general population. High food prices is a major problem: Approximately 60% of Nigerian household expenditure is devoted to food consumed at home vs. 6.5% in the USA.

Nigeria is merely at the first step of retail growth (development, leading to the next stage of acceleration and then consolidation thereafter). Despite the short-term challenges in the Nigeria market including currency, retailers entering or operating with the correct business models will reap the rewards for decades to come.

About Michael Chudi Ejekam

Michael Chudi Ejekam is a renowned leader in the “retail revolution”. He is a widely quoted retail thought leader, with strong local business and government relationships. Michael Chudi Ejekam served as Director Real Estate for W Africa for Actis, a $7.5 Billion private equity firm- most active retail developer in Sub-Saharan Africa (ex SA) for 7+ years. Ejekam originated $700+ Million in retail projects. Projects include $100 Million Ikeja City Mall Lagos, $120 Million Jabi Lake Mall Abuja and Accra Mall. Other projects include Heritage Place, Nigeria’s first green certified commercial building. Originated three upcoming Nigeria malls ranging from $150-185 Million each totaling over 40,000m2 each, which would be largest in the region. Michael Chudi Ejekam started his career on Wall Street, as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch in New York.

He graduated with Honors from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, with BSc in Economics with a Concentration in Finance. He received the Howard E Mitchell Award for academic excellence and extracurricular contributions. Learn more about Michael Chudi Ejekam here.

For more information about us, please visit