uMastandi makes dream come true in Soweto

Khosi Makolota was working as a travel agent. But her dream was to develop two stands in Soweto, which she had owned for some time, 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,” she smiles.

The journey hasn’t been 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, who told her about uMaStandi – a member of the TUHF Group that specifically funds rental property entrepreneurs in townships. uMaStandi provided both funding and mentorship, helping Khosi to realise her long-term dream in just over six-months.

“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, and 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 R 2 500.00 and R 3 000.00 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 as well, ensuring residents will have up to 8-hours of light should the building be affected by load shedding.

The training and mentorship uMaStandi provided were extremely valuable to Khosi. “uMaStandi came to my rescue. And working with the team, especially the Portfolio Manager, Victor Mathetha, really opened my eyes that there is more to it than just building the units and collecting rentals to grow my investment as a sustainable rental business.”

Her two daughters have also played an important role in achieving Khosi’s goal. “They have been very supportive. We even do homework here [on site],” she says.

Khosi will be working with uMaStandi to develop her second site as well. “I’ll be taking all the lessons I learned through this project over to that site,” she says. This will add another 14 studio apartments to the property, bringing the total accommodation available at Sisana Heights to 28 units.

Facts

  • Location: 1818 Mvoti Street, Johannesburg, Senaoane, 1818
  • TUHF Product: uMaStandi
  • Original configuration: 2 undeveloped stands
  • Configuration upon completion: 28 residential bachelor studios

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