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27th Nov 2021

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

uMaStandi: big dreams for small apartments

A property financing company uMaStandi brought to life an entrepreneurial couple’s vision to develop a micro-apartment block for young professionals in Orlando East, Soweto

A young couple, Kgomotso and Mthandeni Khumalo, went knocking on all the usual doors to finance their big property ideas, but to no avail. Assistance and helpful guidance eventually came from uMaStandi, a company that specifically helps and supports entrepreneurs to develop rental property in townships. Today they have one successful development under their belts with more projects to come. But it wasn’t always an easy road.

Kgomotso started as entrepreneur selling chocolates at school and helping her mother do promotions at large retail stores when she was a child. Her journey continued with the establishment of a café within the corporate headquarters where she worked, until 2015, when she purchased, with Mthandeni, a three-roomed property in Orlando to convert into student accommodation. However, they found it difficult to secure funding from banks and investors, who were hesitant to support township developments due to the risks associated with typically lower rental returns.

743 on HM

EXPERT GUIDANCE 

In 2017, the couple’s paths crossed with uMaStandi, a member of the TUHF21 Group that specifically funds rental property entrepreneurs in townships. While uMaStandi’s funding enabled the couple to demolish the existing structures on the site and build a new development from scratch, the company provided something equally essential – guidance. As Mthandeni is employed full time, Kgomotso took the lead developing this project and attended property development courses through uMaStandi. Along with offering guidance to Kgomotso in assembling her team of contractors, uMaStandi also provided her with insight into the area and what she should charge for rental once the development was complete.

SUPPLYING THE DEMAND

From the start, it became clear that there was a high demand for the compact and self-contained apartments they were planning. “By the time we completed our block of apartments, named 743 on HM, we already had 50% of the tenants secured,” Kgomotso says. “Even before we finished our first floor, we had people interested and wanting to move into the ground floor apartments.” Each unit has a bathroom with a shower and toilet, and a kitchenette with space for a fridge and microwave. Stoves are provided as part of the unit.

743 on HM

The rental for the open-plan bachelor units ranges from R3,000 to R5,650 per month. Since most of those living in the apartments are young professionals, many of whom are working from home, stable Wi-Fi and internet access being part of the rental is a major selling point, as is parking within the secure boundary wall. While 743 on HM was the couple’s first development, it is not their last. They already have another one in the pipeline, in the same area, and will be working with uMaStandi again to redevelop a residential home into another 12-unit micro-apartment property.

743 on HM

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