Vickie Remoe Institute of Digital Communications

African-American Man Finds Easy Way To Build Homes in Africa

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Pittsburgh is a long way from Conakry, but Bilal Cyrus found a way to shorten the distance between Africa and America. He is a proud homeowner in Guinea, the Water Tower of West Africa. Remarkably, Cyrus built his home while living in the US, a feat he could only complete because he had expert help. Building a house in West Africa can have twists and turns, but Cyrus could navigate thanks to Jobomax Homes. He’s now an advocate for African American investment in West Africa. He shares his story to help others own a dream home on the continent. How did Cyrus come to own a home in Guinea? It all started with an online romance in 2006. 

 

Bilal Cyrus around 2006 when he was in the US Air Force

Building a dream home in West Africa 

“Back then, anytime I used to tell people I met my wife online, they looked at me crazy ’cause no one was doing that at that time,” he said.

While serving in the US Air Force and stationed in Japan, Cyrus joined an online dating website. Sounds common enough now, but this was in 2006 before Match and Bumble became popular. Not long after the online connection, Cyrus boarded a plane for Guinea, his first trip to Africa. When he arrived, his relationship blossomed. Cyrus married and his match. She joined him in the United States.

Today, Cyrus has seven children and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Wanting to keep them connected to their Guinean heritage, Cyrus decided to build a home in West Africa. 

“Whenever they decide they’re old enough and want to travel and relocate or just visit, they have everything set up,” he said. “I would be proud to see them continue what I’ve started.”

Build a house in Guinea

He was confident he could build a home in Guinea; he owned one in Pittsburgh; how hard could it be? All he had to do was find someone he could trust to send money, buy land, and start construction. Cyrus raised the funds and sent it to a friend in Conakry. Sure, they got the money, but Cyrus didn’t get his home, so he started frequent trips to Guinea. On one of those trips, he saw something that would later make a difference in his West African homeownership journey. 

“I had made a return visit to Guinea, and that’s when, while driving, I noticed a billboard for ‘American Homebuilders of West Africa,'” said Cyrus. Even though he had seen a possible solution, he didn’t get in touch right away. He was still confident.

“I really thought I would be able to do it on my own. I thought it would all work out. Eighteen months later, I finally gave them a call. I had no other option,” he said.

 

Cyrus with his children

Building a dream home in West Africa the easy way

A Jobomax Homes billboard in Guinea, 2016

American Homebuilders of West Africa, now known as Jobomax Homes, is a US-based real estate developer that takes the uncertainty and risks out of homeownership for West Africans in the diaspora and African Americans. Jobomax is a direct response to the sub-region’s scarcity of reliable infrastructure and the absence of viable housing finance options for home buyers—a “one-stop shop” for trusted home ownership solutions. Cyrus was relieved to find an American builder in his home state of Pennsylvania that he could rely on to build his dream home in West Africa. 

“I knew if I needed to visit their office, although I haven’t visited their office in Philadelphia, I could,” he said.

Beyond the proximity to Jobomax Homes, something else made it easy to close the deal. 

“Their contract was very user-friendly; it wasn’t complicated,” he said. “I even said to someone after I read over the contract, ‘Wow, it’s really simple,’ and I said, okay, let me put my money down and see what happens.”

Could home ownership be that simple? Cyrus can attest that it is with Jobomax Homes, and they kept him updated every step of the way.

“They shared uploaded videos and pictures almost daily, and that’s an ultimate confirmation. A picture speaks 1000 words like they say, so once I saw that they were on track with what they said they were doing and the quality of the work being done, I had no problem with them at all.”

One of Cyrus’s homes at Jobomax Homes Perle de Guinee development

An American man builds a home in West Africa and makes it three

Cyrus chose a design with two kitchens: an Indoor American-style kitchen and an outdoor open-air Guinean one for traditional meal prep. 

In-door kitchen of Cyrus’s home

After Cyrus completed the first house in Doumbouyah, he bought another in Perle de Guinée, Conakry. From the day he signed his first contract to the day he received his second home, it took 48 months. That includes the one-year halt in construction due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ease with which he built his first home ignited Cyrus’s interest in real estate and investing in West Africa. In 2023, he signed his third contract with Jobomax Homes for a house in Ghana.

Ghana’s government’s “Year of Return” and “Beyond the Return” initiatives to deepen culture and trade, specifically with African Americans, have rightly positioned themselves as the Gateway of Africa. Cyrus visited Accra, and Ghana’s economic development and the growth of the African-American community appealed to him. 

“The fact that it’s an Anglophone country makes it easier for African Americans to come to the continent,” he said. “Ghana also has a welcoming spirit. I’m excited about having one of the luxury homes that Jobomax Homes is constructing in Appolonia City.”

Reclaim Africa with real estate investment

Cyrus in Accra

In June 2022, Jobomax Homes, in partnership with the Greenwich Hazelton Group, expanded operations to Ghana, taking their homebuilding expertise to the heart of Accra by purchasing land in luxurious Appolonia City, a master-planned community. Jobomax Homes has adapted its designs for the Ghanaian market, delivering homes in the mid-priced range sought by many diaspora members and investors. Jobomax offers financing for up to ten years in Ghana through partnerships with US-Africa Housing Finance, Diaspora Funding Partners, and FNB Ghana. 

Cyrus is relieved to have Jobomax Homes in Ghana; the West Africa, real estate developer, is also in Sierra Leone.  

“You need to go see it and feel it, breathe it, and taste it for yourself before making any major decisions,” he said. 

“Many countries on the continent are emerging economically, so we [the diaspora] need to understand that there are opportunities. As an African American, everything was taken from us once we were brought over the Atlantic. Returning and reclaiming something stolen from me gives me a lot of satisfaction and pride.”

Through homeownership in Guinea and now with his new building project in Ghana, Cyrus has reclaimed his heritage. He has connected the dots for his children. It’s good that he called Jobomax Homes when he saw that billboard. Otherwise, his West Africa homeownership may have been a dream deferred.

 

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