If you have been keen enough as you move around Nairobi, you may have seen the Qwetu and Qejani brands of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) facilities.
When you invest in the Acorn Income REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust), you own units in the two assets.
What Is A REIT?
REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) are regulated investment vehicles where investors like you and I pool their funds (just like we do while investing in Money Market Funds) to invest in real estate assets. In exchange for the money you invest, you are allocated units from which you earn dividends and capital gains. It is that simple!
Yes, you can invest in real estate without having to directly buy a house, plot of land, or put up rentals.
Here’s the typical REITs structure.
Think of a REIT as an investment company that uses the money you invest with them to build or buy real estate assets. These assets may appreciate in value (capital gains) or generate a regular income from which you get a return in the form of dividends.
Click here for a full guide on how to invest in REITs in Kenya.
What Is The Acorn I-REIT?
The Acorn Student Accommodation Income REIT (ASA I-REIT) is the investment vehicle that is responsible for the income-generating Qwetu and Qejani purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) facilities.
This is the list of current Assets Under the Acorn I-REIT:
✅ Qwetu Jogoo Road
✅ Qwetu Wilson View
✅ Qwetu Ruaraka
✅ Qwetu Hurlingham
✅ Qwetu Aberdare Heights 1
✅ Qwetu Aberdare Heights 2
✅ Qwetu Karen
✅ Qwetu Parklands
✅ Qejani Karen
It’s Africa’s first student housing REIT!
How To Buy & Sell Units Of The Acorn I-REIT
To invest in Acorn Student Accommodation I-REIT, which is currently listed on the Unquoted Securities Platform (USP) of the Nairobi Securities Exchange, you need to open an account on Vuka.
“Vuka”, which means “crossover” in Swahili is an online platform that enables retail investors to buy units of the Acorn Student Accommodation Income REIT.
Vuka was developed and is managed and operated by Acorn Investment Management Limited (AIML).
The purpose of this guide is to help you understand how the Vuka Investment Platform works. We’ll cover:
- How to login/access your account on Vuka
- The differences between the dynamic wallet balance and static wallet balance
- What the different sections on the platform mean
- How to buy and sell units of the Acorn I-REIT
- Acorn Holdings Ltd CEO’s recommendation for how much to invest
If you’re a visual learner, you can watch the video on our YouTube Channel:
How To Login/Access Your Vuka Account
To access your account, log in via portal.vuka.co.ke
How To Navigate The Vuka Investment Platform
Let’s start with the Home Page
At the top left, you can see I have the silver membership because I have invested less than KES 100,000. I’ve been a member since 30th July 2022. How long have you been a member?
VUKA has 6 different types of memberships as shown below:
How do you upgrade to a different membership package? Will you pay the full amount or the difference?
Right next to the membership category button is the Upgrade button. This allows you to upgrade from one membership category to another.
The annual membership fee is prorated from the time you joined to the time your subscription expires.
For example, if I was to upgrade my membership to the gold category today (18th July 2023), I would pay the difference in the joining and annual membership fees as shown below:
For the Joining Fee, I would pay KES 1000 which is:
KES 1,499 (gold category) – 499 (silver category) = KES 1000
To join the gold category, I’m supposed to pay KES 9.86 in Annual Membership Fees. As of the time of publishing this article, there are 12 days left until my Silver membership expires.
This is how the Vuka team calculated the KES 9.86 :
KES 799/365 = KES 2.1890411
KES 2.1890411 X 12 = KES 26.2684932
KES 499/365 = KES 1.36712329
KES 1.36712329 X 12 = KES 16.4054795
KES 26.2684932 – KES 16.4054795 = 9.8630137
How much you pay to upgrade to the next category depends on how many days you have left in your current membership category ( how many credits you still have)
2. Current valuation
So far, I have invested KES 10,671.50
I own 500 units.
I have earned KES 125 in dividends.
I have earned KES 177.50 in capital appreciation.
Interest earned is 0.00%. You shouldn’t be alarmed by this because REITs in Kenya don’t earn interest. You earn through dividends and capital gains.
My total return on investment so far is 2.85%. This return is different for everyone depending on when you joined Vuka and started investing.
The current valuation of my investment is KES 10,795. This valuation is based on how much my investment has grown through capital appreciation.
How did the Vuka team calculate my 2.85% return?
= (125 + 177.50)/10,671.50
= 0.0284907 X 100
Why is my total return on investment (2.85%) lower than the 8.2% total annual return reported in their financial year 2022?
Because a company’s annual financial return is for a given period (calendar year).
The return shown on your Vuka dashboard is cumulative based on when you started investing. This also explains why some people’s dashboards show they have more than the 8.2% return. For example, a Wealthtriber shared a screenshot of his dashboard which showed he’s had a 17.86% return so far because he joined Vuka in 2021.
I started investing in mid-2022. By the time of publishing this article, I have only earned one dividend (the second half of 2022 dividend) When they pay the first half of 2023 dividends, I will upload a screenshot to show my % returns.
When it comes to any investment, always ask yourself ‘How long has my capital been working for me?’ Over a long and consistent period of time, your capital grows.
You can also use this formula provided by the Vuka team to calculate your total return:
3. Buying and selling of units of the Acorn I-REIT
Let’s start with buying:
For example, if I want to buy 100 units, I’ll click 100. The system will do the Math and tell you how much you should pay. This cost is inclusive of the 3% service charge. This 3% is charged on ALL buy and sell orders.
This is why the CEO of Acorn Holdings Ltd explained that buying and selling your units within a short period is destructive to your wealth-building journey. The Acorn I-REIT is a mid-term to long-term investment.
This charge is paid to the designated brokerage house, the CMA-approved administrator, and the Nairobi Securities Exchange for managing the buy and sell transactions.
Click the specific unit buttons to arrive at the amount you’d like to invest. For example, if you click 500 twice, it adds up to 1000 units which will cost you KES 11,118.85.
To delete everything and start from scratch, click the refresh button.
Let’s go ahead and click ‘buy units for 2,223.77’ shillings.
There are 3 ways to pay for your purchase, the default one being through M-PESA where you enter your number and Vuka sends you a prompt to enter your M-PESA PIN to complete the purchase.
The value of 100 units is KES 2,159.
How did they arrive at this figure?
One unit of the Acorn I-REIT is currently valued at KES 21.59.
100 units X KES 21.59 = KES 2,159
In 2022 one unit was valued at KES 20.88.
Add the 3% service charge which is KES 64.77 (0.03 X 2,159)
KES 2,159 + KES 64.77 = KES 2,223.77
If you pay using this method, your funds will be deposited to your dynamic wallet balance and later moved to the static wallet balance. All orders received during the month are processed (assigning units) on the last day of every month, on a First In, First Out basis.
The other 2 ways to pay for the purchase of units are:
Pay using a bank account
To deposit into your Vuka account via bank transfer, use the below details and email the proof of payment and your member ID to firstname.lastname@example.org
Account Name: Acorn Capital Partners LLP
Bank: NCBA Bank
Account Number: 5001660013
Swift Code: CBAFKENX
Bank Code: 07
Branch Code: 000
Reference: (your member ID)
The amount will be transferred to your dynamic wallet.
Pay using M-PESA App
To pay using M-PESA App, go to M-PESA App menu:
Select Pay Bill
Enter Business Number: 4077925
Enter Account Number : (Your Member ID)
Amount: ( Vuka will have calculated this for you)
Enter your Mpesa PIN and Proceed
The amount will be transferred to your dynamic wallet.
Once the money reflects in your dynamic wallet, you can choose the number of units you wish to buy. The system automatically calculates the money needed to buy the units based on the current value per unit along with the 3% service charge paid out to the broker and the Nairobi Securities Exchange (“NSE”) to facilitate the trading transaction.
Upon order confirmation, the money moves from your dynamic wallet into the static wallet.
All orders received during the month are processed on the last day of every month, on a First In, First Out basis.
Selling units of the Acorn I-REIT
The process of selling units is similar to the buying process.
Click the specific unit buttons to arrive at the amount you’d like to liquidate or the total number of units you want to sell. For example, if you click 500 twice, it adds up to 1000 units.
To delete everything and start from scratch, click the refresh button.
All sell orders received during the month are processed on the last day of every month and your money is deposited in the dynamic wallet which you can then proceed to withdraw to your M-PESA or bank account.
4. Dynamic vs Static Wallet Balance
One of the most frequent questions I receive about the VUKA platform is: what is the difference between static and dynamic wallet balance?!
The static wallet is used to buy and sell REIT units while the dynamic wallet is an active wallet used to deposit and withdraw money from the VUKA platform.
When you deposit funds through the bank account and M-PESA App methods explained above, your funds are deposited in the dynamic wallet and you need to log in to place an order to buy units.
When you use the default M-PESA method, your funds will be deposited in your dynamic wallet and then automatically moved to the static wallet balance since you’ll have already indicated how many units you want to buy and you’ll also have paid for the service charge.
As the name suggests, it’s a ‘static’ balance, which means it won’t fluctuate.
The Total Wallet Balance is a sum of the dynamic wallet balance and static wallet balance.
You can also top up your account by clicking the ‘Add Money’ button on your dynamic wallet balance. You can top using the 3 options; bank, M-PESA App or the default STK push option that sends you a prompt to enter your M-PESA PIN to make the payment. The money will reflect in your dynamic wallet balance immediately for M-PESA options and in 24 hours for the bank option.
The minimum amount you can invest in the Acorn I-REIT is currently KES 222.38. This is the cost of 10 units valued at KES 215.9 and a 3% service charge, of KES 6.48. The ‘Add Money’ option to your dynamic wallet allows you to top up any amount, even lower than the KES 22.38. This means you can use this option to save money in this wallet by topping up small amounts until you achieve your desired amount.
Since the dynamic wallet is an active wallet used to deposit and withdraw money from the VUKA platform, the ‘Withdraw Money’ button in your dynamic wallet allows you to withdraw from the platform to your M-PESA or bank
Your dividends are paid in the dynamic wallet. You can either withdraw your dividends or choose to reinvest. Your investment in the Acorn I-REIT through VUKA does NOT compound automatically. You MUST log in to reinvest your dividends.
If you don’t log in to reinvest, your dividends will remain in the dynamic wallet. If you top up your dynamic wallet balance and never place an order to buy units, the money will also remain in the dynamic wallet. The Vuka team cannot invest the money on your behalf. The Capital Markets Authority regulations require them to get consent from your to do so. Have you logged in to reinvest your dividends?
Another common question…
Why is there a few shillings or cents in your dynamic wallet balance?
Let’s use an example to explain:
If you top up KES 10,000 in your dynamic wallet balance and then place an order to buy units, you’ll get 463 units.
KES 10,000/KES 21.59 (cost of one unit) = 463.177397 units
463 X 21.59 = 9,996.17
KES 10,000 – KES 9,996.17 = KES 3.83
The KES 3.83 will remain in your dynamic wallet until the next time you top up your account.
Note that this example does not include the 3% service charge.
The holdings page shows you:
- Total investment
- Total units held
- Dividends earned
- Capital appreciation
- Current valuation
- % Returns
It also shows all your previous and pending buy and sell orders.
From the above screenshot, you can see that one unit of the Acorn I-REIT was valued at KES 20.88 when I joined and is now valued at KES 21.59.
This page shows your dynamic and static wallet balances. You can also top up and withdraw from your dynamic wallet from this page.
Additionally, it shows ALL your wallet history and Withdrawal requests.
My Profile Page
This page contains the personal account details that you provided when you signed up on Vuka.
It also includes your Vuka Member ID.
On this page, you can add your bank details. Adding your bank details gives you an option to withdraw your money to your bank account. This can be money earned from dividends, from the sale of your units or money you topped up in your dynamic wallet balance but longer wish to invest.
On the same page, you can add your Beneficiary Details and your Emergency Contact. This is where you add your next of kin’s contact information to be used in the unfortunate event that you pass on.
You can also upgrade your subscription and turn on/off Membership Auto Renew on the Profile page. The subscription fee will be automatically deducted from your dynamic wallet balance when you top up. Vuka DOES NOT liquidate your investment to pay for your membership fees.
Invite Friends To Join Vuka Page
As a member, you have the exclusive ability to invite friends to join Vuka to also invest.
They will receive the exclusive invitation via email when you enter their email address.
Vuka is currently running a Referral Campaign where you will get 50 FREE units of the Acorn I-REIT for each friend that successfully joins and pays through your invitations.
The 50 units are valued at KES 1,111.89
Here’s how they calculate this amount: 50 X 21.59 = 1,079.5
1,079 + 3% service charge = KES 1,111.89 (this is the amount you’ll receive in your dynamic wallet and you can proceed to buy the 50 units)
- This campaign runs until 31st September 2023!
- You have to be a member to take part in the campaign.
If you’re not yet a member, click here to create your account so that you can join and earn from the campaign!
This page contains all the Frequently Asked Questions about the Vuka platform. Click here to check the questions.
Let me answer a few questions from The Wealth Tribe:
1. Can you downgrade your Vuka membership?
Yes. Should you wish to downgrade from your current membership category, you can do so in the subsequent year by choosing a different membership category when renewing your annual membership.
This is subject to the investment amount as each category has a specific investment amount. For example, gold membership is for people who’ve invested between KES 100,001 and 200,000.
2. How can you get support from the Vuka team?
Call them using their toll-free number: 0800730333.
You can also email them at email@example.com
3. I just checked my Vuka account and realized that I have 0% returns and 0% gains and no dividends
Wealthtribers also ask: Just the other day I did my registration on VUKA and invested some money but nothing is yet to reflect on my account through the portal. Should I be worried?
No, you shouldn’t worry.
There are two ways that you can buy investments on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (this is simply a market where you can buy shares of publicly listed companies):
- Through the main exchange: this is where big companies such as Safaricom, KCB, Equity etc are listed. To access this market, you need an approved stockbroker. Activity on this main exchange is extremely high due to the high demand and supply.
- Through the lesser know platform known as the Unquoted Securities Platform (USP)
The USP is an automated solution for the issuance and trading of securities of unquoted companies. ACORN D-REIT and ACORN I-REIT are listed here.
Real Estate Investment Trusts are a relatively new concept in the Kenyan market which means the demand for the units is low. For this reason, the ACORN I-REIT & D-REIT are not listed on the main exchange but are instead listed on the USP.
Regulations from the government require that an investor should have at least 5 million shillings to trade on the USP. Because retail investors like you and I don’t have such an amount of money, we need an aggregator (someone who collects the money on our behalf) who then does the 5 million trade on our behalf, from our collective investment amounts. CMA also only allows just one trade per month which happens at the end of every month. In future, when the demand for REITs grows, this is likely to change.
Vuka is the aggregator in this case.
This is why the investors have to wait to be assigned units of the ACORN I-REIT at the end of the month.
I recently interviewed the CEO of Acorn Holdings Ltd and he explained this concept. Click here to watch the 2 part interview.
4. Is there a time limit for depositing money into the Vuka platform?
There is no time limit. But just like I have explained in the previous question, you have to wait until the end of the month to be assigned units.
5. Can Kenyans in the diaspora invest through Vuka?
Yes, investing in real estate through Vuka is safer than investing in land or rentals where you’re likely to be a victim of real estate scams.
6. How to get the best out of your investment in Vuka
Like in any serious investment product, you need to invest regularly and consistently.
The CEO of Acorn Holdings Ltd recently recommended that to get a decent return, you need to invest at least KES 50,000 per year. Seeing that I have been investing less than this per year, I plan to invest KES 8,500 per month till the end of the year.
Click here to sign up and start growing your wealth through the Acorn I-REIT.
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