By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
It is fair to suggest that since South Africa became a democracy in 1994, and after the ANC government resumed power, the economic transformation, has yet to be properly contextualized.
For example, the real estate industry which is still dominated by local and foreign white has not yet reflected the transformation of a country of 55 million people in which around 90% are black.
But regrettably, 23 years since liberation, the vast majority of the country still don’t feature prominently in the real estate sector. At least on matters concerning ownership go.
Not forgetting that the indigenous black majority still remain land after all this period. A more radical approach on broad-based black economic empowerment is needed, particularly on the question of property ownership.
It is on that note that a case study highlighting a transformation of the property sector in South African should be understood.
It example involves Fine and Country Sub-Saharan Africa, which is part of the UK’s global luxury property network, who announced a pioneering partnership with Unipalm Investment Holdings Ltd at a sunset gathering held recently.
Ragi Moonsamy, the Managing Director of Unipalm, commented, “Unipalm is very pleased about its investment into Fine and Country. This investment aligns with our strategy to promote job creation through franchising. Property remains the best investment vehicle in SA which will impact positively long term for many who haven’t had the opportunity to participate in ownership.”
Several economics have previously asserted that Moonsamyi’s extensive business experience and his strong discipline have made him one of South Africa’s most dynamic business leaders and also one of the country’s most successful “rags-to-riches” stories.
He has a significant track record of twenty years of consistent success, which is underpinned by a sound financial understanding of business models.
Since 1994, Moonsamy has played a leading role in various broad based empowerment initiatives resulting in more than R5 billion worth of projects.
His principal aim has always been growth in the asset base of the company.
In this regard, many investments, such as Growthpoint and Afripalm Resources, were facilitated and secured through his relationships with certain business entities and personalities.
Unipalm Investment Holdings Limited was established in 2001 by a group of South African professionals and entrepreneurs.
They believed that a broad-based empowerment company would attract and secure investment opportunities, which would encourage strong and sustainable growth.
Peter Hendricks, director of Unipalm Holdings and now a co-director of selected Fine and Country offices in the Western Cape province, remarked, “Unipalm Investment Holdings is very proud to announce that they have concluded a successful BEE transaction with Fine and Country South Africa and also purchased a significant stake in the Constantia, V and A Waterfront and Camps Bay offices. Unipalm are excited about the prospect of being part of an estate agency group that already has 50 outlets in South Africa and over 300 offices worldwide, with more enquiries every day.
Fine and Country specialises in the sale and rental of luxury properties and their local experience. Together with a national marketing footprint, coupled with an international audience, is a sure strategy for success in the real estate sector. On top of that, the sophisticated look and feel of the brand, bespoke customer service and the purpose of the brand, assist this closely knit network to operate seamlessly in a tough market, some economists attest.
Bryan Chaplog, CEO of the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), said, “We appreciate the sterling efforts that Fine and Country South Africa have made and continue to make in seeking to address the transformation imperative as well as correcting the unacceptable imbalances that continue to plague the estate agency sector. These efforts reached fruition with the conclusion of an empowerment deal with Unipalm and which will, I believe, enhance the objectives of broad-based black economic empowerment to the benefit of all players. Both the EAAB and I are confident that the Fine and Country South Africa and Unipalm partnership will achieve financial and reputational success and will hopefully serve as an inspiration for other similar enterprises to emulate.”
2016 marked a thirty year career in real estate for Fine and Country Sub-Saharan Africa’s CEO, Linda Erasmus – rising through the ranks as estate agent, manager of a real estate agency, franchise owner and finally the licensor of the prestigious Fine and Country brand in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to sector experts, as an LLB graduate, Linda Erasmus is well-positioned to enhance services to estate agents, licensees and the public.
During 2015 she appeared as the property expert in 26 DStv programmes, viewed by over 5 million South Africans.
And in 2016, Erasmus changed roles to that of presenter of the DEKATv programme and recently interviewed Bryan Chaplog and Ragi Moonsamy at the launch event, which was held in Llandudno.
Erasmus noted, “The real estate sector in South Africa offers much more than showing a buyer through a house. It offers an opportunity for businesses to merge and acquisitions are simply another form of growth. These growth methods are often overlooked in this sector as the players in these markets tend to hold onto personal names or local brand names for too long, taking them nowhere.
Growing a business means that you often have to give up in order to go up. We at Fine and Country South Africa are pleased to improve our corporate governance, our network with professional people and our offering to both property consultants and our clients,’ she said.