Since we last spoke to Ahmed Mansour in January, the 32 year-old engineer and CEO of Castle Development remains on the rise. Having built the real estate company, Castle Development, from the ground up, he is managing to keep the company running efficiently even during these troubling times. eniGma caught up with Mansour to chat about his latest endeavours and how Castle Development is working its way through this pandemic.
Ahmed Mansour’s rise to become one of Egypt’s real estate pioneers was rapid. But like most companies right now, Castle Development is dealing with the havoc that the pandemic is wreaking on the world and the global economy. As ever the passionate entrepreneur known for facing challenges head on, Mansour is focused on limiting any damage the current situation may have on his company and its work ethic. “The problem right now is that no one knows what the future holds. As a real estate company, I understand that it’s tough for clients to commit to a ten-year plan when they don’t know what is going to happen in the next three to four years. That’s what is stressing me right now. I’m confident in my work, and we’re still working, even with 75% of our employees quarantining now. We have implemented a system whereby employees are being constantly switched with one another so that everyone can stay safe inside and outside of the office. And of course, we have taken all the protective sanitary measures in our workspace. Thankfully, we still have new clients coming to us and we’re still selling units,” says Mansour.
The problem, according to Mansour, is not the lack of new clients, but rather involves existing clients that Mansour is adamant to keep. With the instability in monthly incomes right now, Mansour knows that clients may be facing ramifications due to the struggling economy and he is doing his best to keep them as valuable clients. “We have around 1000 clients, and so far only two clients have requested a delay in making their payments. We’re very empathetic towards what’s happening right now, and we’re very lenient with clients who have been affected by the situation at hand, especially those who work in sectors like tourism. We are definitely trying our best to help and we’re supportive of our clients; we can get through this together,” he says.
Mansour has some advice for people who are contemplating purchasing a new home, especially those who are thinking of doing so during the pandemic. “In my personal opinion, now is the perfect time to purchase real estate. It is like the situation during the revolution in 2011; real estate prices really spiked up after the revolution. So it’s good for a client to purchase now rather than later. But I feel that people who were postponing the idea of buying a house for many years, are taking that step right now and are actually buying,” explains Mansour.
“We had prepared a commercial starring Amr Wahba to air on television,” says Mansour about a marketing initiative that Castle Development is exploring these days. “We found that it actually would be a lot better if we placed it on social media instead, with an idea to give back to people in need. We formed a plan where with every share of the commercial on social media, we would donate a sum of money to the less fortunate families. That way we are using our platform to help raise awareness,” he continues.
Mansour notes that as soon as the official curfew in Egypt was set, Castle Development took the necessary steps to abide by the rules and to protect its employees. “We stopped all staff flights immediately, because our work requires a lot of transportation from one site to another, and continuing that would put a lot of people at risk. So we stopped all flights for two weeks and sanitised our planes efficiently. We also provided housing for our construction workers so they could self-isolate and not be exposed to any danger. We provided them all with masks and sanitary products, and health professionals at the sites are taking worker’s temperatures every morning to make sure everyone is healthy and well,” he explains.
On the ramifications of COVID-19 on the real estate sector as a whole, and the steps he thinks the government should take, Mansour states, “I think the government can help real estate developers right now by being a bit more lenient with instalments owed to them. We need the government to give a little more consideration to the real estate developers who are suffering due to the pandemic, especially because this will affect the sector as a whole.”
Despite the challenging current conditions, Castle Development is continuing to stay ahead of the curve and to find new projects to take on. While they are in the middle of the construction of four different commercial projects, three of them in the New Administrative Capital and one in Sixth of October city, they are also actively planning two new residential projects in the North Coast and New Cairo.
Setting aside business matters, the real estate tycoon is also a young family man who, like everyone else has been personally affected by the pandemic. “Although being at home all the time can be boring, I’ve taken up cooking as a hobby. I’ve actually become very good at it!” Mansour exclaims, with a chuckle. “The best thing that has come from all of this is that I’ve been able to spend more time with my children. Work always prevented me from spending as much time as I wanted with the kids, and now I have as much time with them as I want. They seem so much happier now. I also used to be very nervous and anxious about work all the time, and now that weight seems to have been slightly lifted,” he adds.
Asked by eniGma if he had a positive message to share with our readers, Mansour answers without hesitation, “I’ve been through plenty of hardships in my life, and every single time I felt like it was the end of the world for me. But the hardships always pass. It’s okay to get upset, but eventually everything passes, and this will too.”