UMASTANDI MAKES DREAM COME TRUE IN SOWETO


Sisana Heights, a multi-unit property development, brings affordable residential rental space to the heart of Soweto.

Khosi Makolota worked as a travel agent, but her dream was to devel­op two stands in Soweto, which she had owned for some time. Her vision was to refurbish the stands into a high-quality residential rental prop­erty for middle-income tenants.

“You know how it is when you’re working for someone, and all the time you’re thinking ‘You know, I could be doing this thing?’ It was like that,” says Khosi.

THE JOURNEY WASN’T EASY

A single mom to two daughters, aged five and 15, Khosi had resigned from her job three times to focus on developing her property, but each time she ran out of funds and had to return to full-time employment. Her dedication to realising her dream even led her to put her home up for sale to fund the development.

 In 2015, Khosi made the tough de­cision to focus exclusively on getting Sisana Heights completed. She ap­proached several financial institu­tions to fund her dream, but without success.

Funding is difficult to come by for smaller projects like Khosi’s, and tra­ditional investors are often wary of property developments in Soweto as the rentals tend to be low compared to more high-end areas like Sandton.

Then, Khosi met Henry Chitsulo, owner of Bold Moves and appointed mentor for uMaStandi clients. uMa­Standi, a member of TUHF, specifi­cally funds rental property entrepre­neurs in townships.

uMaStandi together with the TUHF Programme for Property Entrepre­neurship (TPPE) helped Khosi to fulfil her long-term dream in just over six months.

FUNDING AND MENTORSHIP

“We were so impressed by Khosi’s determination and commitment to this project,” says Chitsulo. “So, we tailor-made a mortgage loan for her, and provided training and mentor­ship to help her achieve her goals quickly.”

With funding from uMaStandi in place, development at Sisana Heights started in earnest in July 2019. Unfortunately, the contractor became ill and passed away soon af­ter, which was a blow to Khosi and her team.

However, they were able to restart in October 2019. Construction on the first site has been completed and units are ready for tenanting. The demand is promising, as the ground floor is already fully rented, and ten­ants are keen to move in.

 The first site contains 14 studio apartments. Each unit is intended to house a maximum of two people, aimed at couples or single parents of young children.

The open plan studio layout includes a kitchenette, combined living and bedroom area, and a bathroom. The rent ranges between R2 500 and R3 000 per month, depending on the unit’s total floor space.

Sisana Heights is conveniently locat­ed close to a mall, clinic and church. Situated just off one of Soweto’s main roads, it also offers easy access to transport, 24-hours a day. And, with South Africa’s continuing challenges around the provision of electricity, the building incorporates energy-storing LED bulbs, ensuring residents will have up to 8-hours of light should the building be affected by load shedding.

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