TUHF Stories

Embracing inner-city revitalisation for a new world

Urbanisation is one of the most important drivers of both social and economic life. Most of the world’s economic innovation occurs within
cities and large metropolitan areas, and these are the places that prosper the most. Cities are like the Internet: they connect people.

Katherine Cox, Research, Development & Innovation Manager, says: “Research indicates that 80% of the world’s wealth is created in cities. People in cities thrive on the opportunities for work and play, and the endless variety of available goods and services.” Cities are where people find opportunities, especially women in the developing world. They are also the perfect testbeds for new innovations. Currently, there is massive urbanisation occurring not only in South Africa, but across the continent. This can be attributed to the significant economic opportunities to be had.

PROXIMITY CRITICAL
“Sharing spaces has become integral to this urbanisation. People are now reliant on affordable transport even if that means walking or cycling to where they need to go. This makes proximity critically important. People are therefore attracted to the idea of being able to live and access retail, commercial areas, education, social amenities
and their work within walking distance. To this end, inner-city living is becoming a key building block for the future of urbanisation,” she says.

Advanced cities such as Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Bristol in England, and Melbourne in Australia, are already developing plans that prioritise circular economics and climate resilience. Cities have prolific benefits other than basic needs, housing, and jobs. These include universities, cafés, art galleries, restaurants, and cultural facilities.
Yet, they also have traffic, overcrowding, crime, pollution, and disease.

“Cities, particularly in the developing world, are already facing rapid urbanisation. More than half the world lives in cities. By 2050, this will be two-thirds with 380 million new urban dwellers expected to have arrived in African cities. After all, it is in cities that we experience the power of proximity and economic opportunities,” she adds.

PANDEMIC CHANGES
Under the growing urban agenda, it has become clear that building sprawling, car-centric cities no longer works. Prior to COVID 19, cities were focusing on sustainable development, increasing density, resilience, and smart urbanism while remaining cognisant of the rapid
urbanisation and massive housing and infrastructure backlogs also taking place.

However, cities and urban populations have started undergoing a radical shift – from the dream of ownership to that of interdependence and sharing. Out of economic necessity, citizens either choose to or are forced to share living spaces, occupy micro-apartments, and invest in
bike and car shares. Furthermore, shared working spaces are giving rise to inclusive cities with inclusionary housing and crammed multimodal public transport hubs.

“Some are arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic may appear to be one of anti-urbanism, with dense urban areas
being the hardest hit in terms of infection and mortality statistics. Yet, cities have always faced severe challenges. For example, terrorism, and xenophobic and religious fundamentalist attacks repeatedly buffer urban areas. Cities have been the epicentres of infectious disease
since the time of Gilgamesh and they have always recovered and will continue to grow,” says Cox.

A NEW ORDER
Having said that, some aspects of cities will need to change; fear of density may push some to rural areas while others will see the reverse happen. Ambitious young people will continue to come to cities in search of personal and professional opportunities. The creative
class may be drawn by lower rents, thanks to the economic fallout from the virus.

Buildings and public spaces may be retrofitted for social distancing. There will also be longer-term trends affecting cities such as digitalisation of retail and work, leading to a repurposing of office spaces and malls. Most cities are seeing a shift to micro-mobility schemes including walking and bikes with increasing numbers of streets being pedestrianised and the number of dedicated bikelanes increasing.

“If anything, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of being able to access more green spaces in cities. There is an increasing demand for such public open spaces that are well-managed, cleaned, and more reflective of a post-pandemic world. This will see the green city
approach become essential as the high cost of services such as electricity and water are driving people to become more self-sustaining and ultimately moving off the grid,” adds Cox.

Such post-pandemic developments, therefore, create opportunity to promote smart density in the affordable housing space through TUHF, Intuthuko, and uMaStandi, as well as green investment through Luhlaza. Cities are resilient because their inhabitants are resilient.

“At TUHF, we believe in a ‘Massive: Small’ approach. This is implementing and financing small scale entrepreneurs in a way that is scalable and replicable to have a bigger, more inclusive, and sustainable impact than mega-projects, for example. We believe in how people from the street are becoming entrepreneurs and scaling up in previously unimaginable ways. The future of the urban environment will centre on these projects as people start looking at more innovative ways of living,” concludes Cox.

TUHF Online Property Management Course

TUHF is proud to present an Online Property Course hosted by the CEO of SA Property Investor’s Network, Andrew Walker and presented by a panel of experts.

What is the Course about?

The Property Management Course will cover the following

  • What have been the important Property Management lessons arising from the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Could Property Management be done differently?  
  • How has the management of rental collections changed?
  • Selecting and screening tenants- what have been the necessary changes arising out of Covid-19?
  • Maintenance of property amidst reducing rental income- how do you prioritize maintenance in such times?
  • Should property investors use an external property manager or conduct this service on their own?

Date: 15 October 2020
Time: 11h00 to 13h00
Venue: Zoom

Who are the Panel of Experts?

Henry Chitsulo, Director of Bold Moves, has 25 years of experience in investment banking, real estate and property development. He was previously a Director responsible for BEE funding in the Real Estate Investment Division at Standard Bank and National Manager of Property Equity Investments at ABSA.

David Beattie, is the author of The Expert Landlord book, and the founder of The Expert Landlord website and PocketLet, a mobile app for private landlords. David also founded Chorus Letting, a leading residential property rental agency managing 2000 properties across Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa.

Solly Ramalamula, TUHF Client and Managing Director of Take Shape Properties. Take Shape Properties is a company that specialises in managing a number of buildings in the inner city on behalf of other property investors. They also own and manage a number of their own buildings which they have rejuvenated and transformed.

What is the Cost: R250 to non-TUHF clients. 
Free to existing TUHF Clients.  

How do you sign up?

Non-TUHF Clients:

Send your information (full name, contact number and email address) along with your proof of payment (via PayFast) before/on the 13th of October 2020 to marketing@tuhf.co.za

Pay

TUHF Clients

Send your information to sayurin@tuhf.co.za

Once we received your details we will send the Zoom Link to you via email. 

The Cape York building in Johannesburg’s CBD has risen from the ashes to fulfil its potential

Previously owned by the Bank of Mozambique and abandoned, Cape York had been hijacked and fraudulently sold, with several “owners” allowing it to become severely overcrowded and collecting rent illegally. It was infamous as a hub for drug trafficking and prostitution, lacked running water, power and sanitation and had seen two fires that claimed lives.

From hijacked to hope

Hijacked buildings like this have become all too common in South Africa’s inner cities. These high-rises have not only become dangerous to live in but pose a threat to neighbouring buildings, impacting social safety as a whole.

Cape York, situated in Doornfontein on the corner of Nugget and Rahima Moosa Street, epitomised the negative impact of hijacked buildings on neighbourhoods and society. Originally a 10-storey office building with retail shops on the ground floor, employees who worked in the building started living there in 1997. As the building became more neglected, more people moved in, leading to severe overcrowding.

To compound this issue, the building was fraudulently sold to a group of investors – a discovery the appointed attorneys made during the transfer process. Once this was legally rectified, Samuel Beyin saw potential in the embattled building and bought out the shareholding of the Cape York owned entity.

Despite calls to simply demolish the then-derelict building after a second fire claimed seven lives in 2017, Samuel was determined to realise the building’s potential and transform it into a viable and safe rental property. He renamed the building Focus 1 and invested his own capital before approaching TUHF for a loan. The total cost of the project including refurbishment was close to R100 million.

“Focus 1 represents the very essence of what TUHF aims to achieve by investing in inner-city property refurbishments – seeing and realising the potential in run-down buildings and declining areas to transform them into safe, secure environments for people to live and thrive,” said Nano Makwela, Portfolio Manager at TUHF.

Bringing vision to life

The Focus 1 project took a property entrepreneur with courage and conviction to realise its potential. TUHF was thrilled to partner with Samuel’s passion and drive to help bring his vision to life.

The project presented many design, technical and construction challenges. But Samuel and TUHF focused on the opportunities to collaborate and resolve these creatively. The expected completion date was March 2020 but – because the finished building would provide student accommodation for up to 538 young people – Samuel and his team pushed through over the festive season to achieve practical completion on 28 January, well ahead of programme and in time for the new year.

Makwela said: “Even though Samuel’s previous experience was mainly in commercial property, his entrepreneurial drive to implement creative solutions and an understanding of what students want from accommodation has led to the success of this project. Focus 1 proves that affordable accommodation doesn’t have to feel cramped or meet low-cost standards to be profitable.”

The refurbished building consists of spacious two-bed and four-bed unit apartments as student accommodation offering, and communal study and social areas on the 5th floor. Each apartment is leased fully furnished, incorporating beds, cupboard and clever additional storage solutions under the beds that may be used to store textbooks and other study paraphernalia, as well as private bathrooms with a toilet and shower, a small kitchenette with a sink and eating area.

The building has full communal kitchens, with microwaves and stoves where students can prepare meals, as well as social areas to allow tenants a safe and comfortable space to interact and relax. Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, an in-house gym, a library, football and basketball fields, state-of-the art biometric access to ensure safety and transport to and from campus complete the list of amenities that make Focus 1 such a sought-after home for students.

The surrounding universities were then invited to view the building in January 2020 and at the time they immediately started referring students to take up tenancy. While tenanting the building was temporarily affected by the impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the national lockdown and physical distancing measures to support containing the spread of the virus, tenancy is expected to pick up once onsite classes and attendance at the surrounding universities is allowed to resume – and toward the 2021 academic year. In addition, the innovative building design is future proofed and constructed in such a way that it allows for fluent conversion. Should the market change, Focus 1 can easily be converted to normal apartments for rental stock should the owner decide.

A bright urban future

Cape York’s past was brutal and terrifying. It once stood as a symbol of the city’s growing urban decay.

“But now, Focus 1 manifests TUHF’s belief that by the action of extraordinary entrepreneurs the future is indeed urban. This project demonstrates TUHF’s unrivalled ability to catalyse growth and urban regeneration not only through funding but, more importantly, through our ability to innovate,” concluded Makwela.

Samuel Beyin is already looking at further opportunities with TUHF and intends to pursue additional projects like this as soon as possible after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Facts

  • Location: Corner of Nugget and Rahima Moosa Street, Doornfontein, Johannesburg CBD
  • TUHF Product: Property Finance
  • Original configuration: Hijacked 10 Storey Building
  • Configuration upon completion: 538 BedStudent Accommodation

We at TUHF just loving Women’s Month this August. We have taken this opportunity chat to some of TUHF’s most influential woman, and gain some insight into their lives on both a professional and personal level by delving into their property insights and preferences.

1. What impact do you think women’s right to vote had on our country?

Women’s right to vote added untold value on all levels to society. Women have great understanding and insight into many of the issues that impact and affect our communities and the country at large.

2. Describe yourself in 3 words?

Excited, Fun, Tenacious

3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Adventure, travel, yoga, art & design, spending time with my friends and family

4. How do you conquer fears?

I face my fears. Fear is worse if not faced head-on.  .

5. In this day and age what is the biggest challenge facing woman in South Africa?

The biggest challenge facing women today is their lack of belief in themselves. Without a women’s confidence in her own abilities, she can only stand for so much. True change and empowerment can only come when the South African woman starts understanding that no one is coming to save her, she needs to wake up, have faith in who she is and become her own superhero!

6. What has been the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Starting a new life with literally nothing but the clothes on my back. I walked away from abuse and in getting where I am today, I had to make a decision to become my own liberator. I slept in train stations, scared and alone, but today I am a much stronger woman than I have ever been.

7. Any advice for women who want to start a Career in this industry?

Go for it. Keep focused on your goal and don’t give into anything that tries to stand in your way.

8. What is your take on property investments?

You need a serious amount of patience as they are one of the most stable asset classes BUT very long term. NEVER SELL the property that you invest in!

9. What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?

Being a mother…..my job and career that I love so much…Being the only person in my family ever to get a degree, managing to feed seven hungry mouths and hopefully making a positive impact in urban life for everyone.

10. What message of inspiration do you have for the women of South Africa?

You are awesome and stronger than you think!!! – JUST DO IT, onwards and upwards!

We at TUHF are celebrating Women’s Month this August. We have taken this opportunity interview some of TUHF’s most influential woman, and gain some insight into their lives on both a professional and personal level by delving into their property insights and preferences.

1. What impact do you think women’s right to vote had on our country?

It gave women a voice – it is our right to be able to contribute and be part of decisions that impact our lives and that of our communities. We must be willing to use the voice that other women before us fought so hard for and give our all to strive for true equality and not be apologetic about it.

2. Describe yourself in 3 words? 

Engaging, energetic, passionate

3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

Spending time with family, travel and reading

4. How do you conquer fears?

I tend to break down the situation into its component parts and rationalise it by looking at how others dealt with similar situations and usually end up saying to myself that if others can do it, I can do it as well.

5. In this day and age what is the biggest challenge facing woman in South Africa? 

The single biggest challenge is Gender Based Violence (GBV) where the ones that women should be trusting most, end up being the ones hurting them. 

6. What has been the biggest risk you have ever taken? 

In 2003 when I was working at Absa in the Business Banking Division, I got the opportunity to join the Commercial Property Finance team as a Consultant. I had no experience in Commercial Property whatsoever and always viewed the industry as one that was male-dominated. Needless to say, it was a massive risk as I was doing well in general business banking at the time. I took the risk and made the most of it. I was supported by a brilliant male mentor who invested time, effort and patience to teach me a lot of the technical aspects in the field and also introduced me into the various networks. I’ve never looked back since. My take-out from this has always been to surround yourself with like-minded individuals, don’t be scared to ask questions and never stop building a strong support network.

7. Any advice for women who want to start a Career in this industry? 

Go for it! Make sure you connect with other like-minded people in the industry and work hard to establish your network.  The worst that can possibly happen is someone saying no. Even then, Be persistent!

8. What is your take on property investments? 

Property is a wealth creation vehicle and should not be used to make short term gains. It can be likened to a seed that eventually grows into a solid tree. It takes time, effort and patience.  Most importantly, you must have an investment strategy and know why you are investing into property. Ultimately, your strategy will guide your behaviour and appetite for risk.

9. What would you say is your biggest achievement so far? 

I’ve always been known for my work ethic. I derive satisfaction from good performance and achievements. My most notable achievement was working as a property finance consultant for 3 of the major banks (Absa, Standard Bank and Investec) and being part of the deal teams that structured some of the most interesting deals in the Commercial Property Finance industry. I gave my all into learning and developing myself in order to do my job well. I read, did research and continuously developed myself by attaining various qualifications, including an Honours Degree in Finance and 2 Masters Degrees.  All this enabled me to do my work remarkably well, as well as preparing me for my long-term career in South Africa’s property industry.

10. What message of inspiration do you have for the woman of South Africa? 

Do not ever sit back and wait to be served at a table. Make sure that you are visible enough (in deeds and/or words) to be acknowledged and respected. And if you do not get acknowledgement and respected, do not hesitate to move along and create your own table. As women, we stand tall on the shoulders of those women who fought hard for our rights and do not be afraid to lean in and lend a hand to another woman. We cannot expect others to empower us, we need to empower ourselves. 

We at TUHF are celebrating Women’s Month this August. We have taken this opportunity interview some of TUHF’s most influential woman, and gain some insight into their lives on both a professional and personal level by delving into their property insights and preferences.

  1.          What impact do you think woman’s right to vote had on our country? Women’s right to vote was a significant step in equalising woman’s rights. Given the history of women’s rights to vote in South Africa, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Having the right to vote has given women the right to have a political voice, which enables women to pursue goals and aspirations that they value and bringing about value, brings about change. The impact of women voting has allowed women to be heard by expressing their views and interests.

2.         Describe yourself in 3 words? Loyal, Pragmatic, Calm

3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

I love spending time with my husband and pursuing my passion for interior design. Making my home beautiful warms my heart by giving me the freedom to express my creativity.

4. How do you conquer fears?

I face them head-on by finding the courage to do so. Strength, courage, and confidence are built up in us when we “look fear in the face”.

5. In this day and age what is the biggest challenge facing woman in South Africa? 

The violence that women are facing in a culture where women are seen as inferior beings, so it is as though it is acceptable to treat them badly. It is unacceptable.

6. What has been the biggest risk you have ever taken? 

The biggest and most recent risk my husband and I have taken is getting our second property, a holiday home, in these uncertain economic times, investing in a holiday home is often considered to be very risky and said to be the worst property investment.

7. Any advice for women who want to start a Career in this industry? 

It is an industry where one never stops learning and the opportunities in property are limitless and vast. Whatever knowledge you gain in one area of the property sector will come in handy in another area of the sector.

8. What is your take on property investments? 

Investing in property is the greatest investment, with the least risk, and with great returns. It does, however, demand a constant hands-on approach.

9. What would you say is your biggest achievement so far? 

Still being able to work with the health challenges that I have faced. Also, keeping a positive outlook on life and, keeping on going. I have kept getting up after being knocked down. We achieve things in our lives that may not be significant to anyone else, but may serve to be huge growth learnings at a personal level.

10. What message of inspiration do you have for the woman of South Africa? 

There is nothing that you can’t do. South African women are generally inherently strong, and I wish all women the courage to rise again and again and to face the fears that are holding them back from doing everything they put their minds to. Someone once made a statement that resonated with me; “Most problems can be solved with a little bit of self-discipline. All problems can be solved with a lot of self-discipline.”

Despite its potential, Irene Court was a run-down apartment building in the central business district of Bloemfontein. The apartments had no doors, there were very few walls due to a lack of maintenance with tenants having to use curtains as dividers. And yet, Ntombi Sithole saw an opportunity to revitalise the building and transform it into the prime location it is today.

With the assistance of TUHF, Ntombi purchased the property in 2017 and began a refurbishment project that was completed a year later.

“Being so strategically located in downtown Bloemfontein at the heart of the Urban Development Zone, this property was a gem at an incredibly attractive price. Situated at the corner of Charles and Hanger Street opposite the Department of Health and next to Sanlam Plaza and China Mall, the opportunity to turn this into beautiful real estate was just too good to pass up on,” says Ntombi.

Additionally, given its location the property provided a great tax incentive and attracted a lot of tenants despite the condition it was in previously.

“To be honest, before we started the refurbishment, the place looked like a dumpster. The previous owner did not perform any upkeep or maintenance. We literally had to start from scratch and put in new tiles, doors, brick walls inside the apartments, burglar proofing, and new bathrooms. The scale of the project was significant,” she adds.

Considering this was the first project TUHF would undertake in Bloemfontein, Ntombi was motivated to prove the potential of Irene Court.

“As this was a brownfield initiative in the city, we had to establish relationships with builders and other stakeholders to ensure its success. The scope of the refurbishment presented us with many challenges and the first contractor really did not provide any assistance. I had to take over and invested R200 000 from my own funds to supplement the R4.6-million funding from TUHF and the Intuthukho Fund.”

However, Ntombi says that TUHF really came to the rescue and was more than a funding partner on the project.

“They helped me re-finance the property to be able to finish it and walk with us throughout the process and provided invaluable assistance. Paul Jackson in particular was an incredible mentor and it has been amazing to work with TUHF throughout the project.”

Today, she says it is an honour and a privilege to know that people are living in a decent place.

“From what it was to what the building is today required a major leap of faith. Fortunately, the equity growth has been marvellous and the support we received from TUHF throughout means we were never alone in this project. Yes, it was hard work and we went through difficult times, but the continued 100% tenancy rate of Irene Court makes it all worthwhile in the end,” concludes Ntombi.

Facts

  • Location: Corner of Charles and Hammer Streets, CBD, Bloemfontein, 9301
  • TUHF Product: Irene Court
  • Original configuration: Dilapidated apartment building
  • Configuration upon completion: Rejuvenated apartment building featuring 11 one-bedroom flatlets and four two-bedroom units

We at TUHF are celebrating Women’s Month this August. We have taken this opportunity interview some of TUHF’s most influential woman, and gain some insight into their lives on both a professional and personal level by delving into their property insights and preferences.

1.         What impact do you think woman’s right to vote had on our country?

Giving a voice to women is inclusive, empowering and long overdue. However, there is so much work we need to still do to ensure that issues around gender based violence in society are addressed and that women in the workplace have equal opportunities.

2.         Describe yourself in 3 words? Enduring, Reliable, Dedicated

3.         What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Exercise like running and pilates, Watching Netflix, Love the outdoors and hiking

4.         How do you conquer fears? By facing them honestly, one at a time.

5.         In this day and age what is the biggest challenge facing woman in South Africa? The 3 most significant issues based by South African women are 1. Gender based violence and femicide, 2. Equal rights and opportunity for women 3. Skills development particularly for our youth

6.         What has been the biggest risk you have ever taken? Making choices in my life that have involved the path less traveled and being true to myself have been harder but more rewarding – examples are studying finance and ensuring that I am independent financially, leaving a large corporate to work at TUHF.  

7.         Any advice for women who want to start a Career in this industry? Take the risk, even if its hard perseverance pays off, don’t give up. Believe in yourself – there is nobody quite like you. Be yourself and know the value you bring.

8.         What is your take on property investments? I think investing in property is rewarding and lucrative but you need to be firm, fair and hands on in managing tenants  

9.         What would you say is your biggest achievement so far? Keeping my sanity while having a career, caring for my family and trying to keep a balance

10.       What message of inspiration do you have for the woman of South Africa? Understand the world of work, there are enormous opportunities, it is strategic, it is about understanding that, it is about building supportive networks & relationships and being part of a team, be good at what you do and show up so that you can come forward to be part of all this and bring your voice   

On the 7th of July 2020, Mahlatse Kekana, Junior Portfolio Manager at TUHF joined Private Property’s podcast series on Facebook. Hosted by Zamantungwa Khumalo, Mahlatse featured as the guest speaker to discuss entrepreneurial success tips in commercial real estate. 

“The first thing that TUHF looks for before processing a loan application, is a fit for that particular entrepreneur or enterprise. TUHF has what we call a character-based lending strategy which means that we look at the character as well as, the background and abilities of the person behind the deal.” Mahlatse explained.

TUHF will also assess:

– Whether the deal is commercially viable, i.e. does the deal make commercial sense?

– Whether the loan that it gives you can be paid back from the income that will be generated from the particular property

Over and above, TUHF’s financing process can be summarised in 8 steps

Step 1. Identify an inner-city area in which you would like to invest, in line with your knowledge & experience

Step 2. Find an existing building or site for a new building

Step 3. Do your research by gathering information to prepare for your meeting with a TUHF Consultant

Step 4. Apply for TUHF finance

Step 5. Begin the credit approval phase

Step 6. Meet the conditions of the approval & sign loan agreement

Step 7. Registration of property takes place & construction starts

Step 8. Construction complete, rent up and cyclical processes

In concluding TUHF’s steps of lending, Mahlatse mentioned that some of the most successful property entrepreneurs are those who buy correctly at the correct price. “You have to buy properties that suit your risk appetite and capabilities. The most successful entrepreneurs are street level and they have a network of real estate agents, developers, and financiers. Platforms like Private Property provide a basis for entrepreneurs to find property. But it’s when you really start engaging with your peers and fellow entrepreneurs that you start finding what a good transaction looks like” Mahlatse added.

Zamantungwa and Mahlatse continued the conversation by discussing other factors that property buyers should be mindful of when buying property in the inner city. Mahlatse explained that finding the right deal, or property is not easy, and this means that people will often enough have to let go off a few properties before finding the one more suitable for them. Mahlatse highlighted that even though you may not come with a feasible proposal in the beginning, TUHF is still able to assist you find the right deal.

TUHF is also able to fund property entrepreneurs in township areas of South Africa through its uMaStandi product offering. uMaStandi launched in 2017 and it finances township entrepreneurs.

“In summary, the best advice that I can give in closing to property entrepreneurs who want to succeed in the real estate property market is firstly; you should start small then go big, secondly; always interrogate purchase prices and lastly; be conservative in your estimates.” Mahlatse concluded.

More Information:

Podcast link https://www.facebook.com/propertysa/videos/736971557117321

Learn more about TUHF https://www.tuhf.co.za/

Learn more about uMaStandi https://umastandi.co.za/

Get to know Mahlatse Kekana – LinkedIn https://cutt.ly/qpq4hCx

Streetlight-Schools_classroom

Streetlight Schools: Growing Grade by Grade in Jeppestown

Jeppestown, Johannesburg
Intuthuko Equity Fund and purchase plus construction finance.
Location

Jeppestown, Johannesburg

Johannesburg, 03 March 2020 – From humble beginnings as an after-school programme, housed in a small storeroom in Bjala Square, Streetlight Schools’ flagship Jeppe Park Primary has grown to an innovative, 4 Star Green Star rated primary school for Grades R-5.

“Jeppe Park Primary fully embodies the concept of impact through scale,” says Lusanda Netshitenzhe, Development Impact Manager at TUHF. “It has not only converted a disused shoe factory into a globally competitive school that provides quality education in one of the most underserved communities in South Africa – but has also integrated with the local community so extensively as to have a far-reaching impact on the surrounding area.”

For example, the professional team involved in designing and building the school’s facilities sourced much of the construction and fitout materials used in the primary school campus, as well as a third of the construction team, from within a 200m radius.

In addition, much of the school’s teaching staff share similar backgrounds to the learners and have been trained by Streetlight Schools to enter the teaching profession for the first time (with help from Instil Education, Reggio Emilia Alliance and more). These two examples have created work opportunities for Jeppestown residents and involved the local community in the school’s development every step of the way.

The school’s presence also played a key role in the refurbishment of Jeppe Park across the road, where the community and municipality got involved to improve safety for the children, most of whom walk to and from school.

The school has grown with its pupils. “We started with just 70 Grade R learners in 2016, and we’ve grown a Grade every year,” says David Fu, CEO of Streetlight Schools.

In 2018, when Streetlight Schools approached TUHF for a grant through its CSI fund, the school had grown to 261 learners from Grade R-4.

TUHF’s grant of R 150 000 has funded the addition of two new Grade 5 classes, allowing 2019’s Grade 4s to move on to their next year of education at the school. The grant also allowed for the addition of a third Grade 1 class to meet the demand at the early stages, so that Jeppe Park Primary now caters for 315 learners in total.

This isn’t TUHF’s first contribution to Jeppe Park Primary’s development. “In the early days, TUHF helped us build the playground, both in the form of materials donated and time from a number of employees,” Fu confirms.

TUFH is invested in Bjala Square too, enabling the school’s landlord to make an even more meaningful impact in the area, and on the school itself.

Bjala’s aquaponics farm provides Streetlight Schools with a stimulating space for its extracurricular activities, effectively creating an outdoor classroom for the kids. School-ground greening and the rooftop farm brings learning about nature to life, while the school’s commitment to environmental sustainability incorporates recycling to teach children about waste, and art projects using discarded materials teach them about repurposing.

“It’s such a pleasure to see two of our major investments in inner-city regeneration support each other and meld together so effectively,” says Netshitenzhe.

Fu agrees; “Bjala has given us the backbone and stability we need to operate a school here for generations to come. They even subsidised our rent here in the early days, which really helped us to get established.”

The school’s future includes three more classrooms, indoor play courtyards, additional bathrooms and a staff room for middle school teachers, as well as expansions to the library and a new computer room. Jeppe Park Primary aims to grow to 500 learners, doubling its impact in the community and beyond.