TUHF, South Africa’s leading impact investor in affordable housing, celebrated its 20-year anniversary at an investor gala dinner in Johannesburg on 1 June 2023.
The event marks a significant milestone for TUHF’s unwavering commitment to urban regeneration and densification through affordable rental housing, creating impact through scale – one property entrepreneur, one building, and one city block at a time.
TUHF has always strived to be a reliable partner to its shareholders, funders and clients. The event brought together individuals who have been part of TUHF’s growth and success over these two decades – some since the company’s inception, as well as newer members of the TUHF “family”.
Former Chairman of TUHF’s Board, Samson Maroba, gave a brief overview of the company’s beginnings in a video interview, referencing the investment that the NHFC made in TUHF in 2003. He stated: “To invest R50 million in a newly formed company [with two employees], they must have had some confidence that they would be able to do it… make a difference in the regeneration of South Africa’s inner cities.”
And TUHF has since demonstrated its ability to achieve competitive commercial profitability and real development impact – the two drivers it holds as its core purposes simultaneously. Since inception, TUHF has financed R 7.1 billion and 47 364 affordable rental housing units across more than 734 buildings. It has increased its footprint to 7 offices in 5 provinces and grown its loan book to R3.3 billion currently.
Solomon (Solly) Ramalamula, founder and CEO of Take Shape Property Management, is one of TUHF’s longest standing clients and spoke at the event. This former policeman has developed 11 affordable residential rental properties in the inner cities of Johannesburg, and seven of these have been funded by TUHF.
“We are what we are because of you,” Ramalamula said in the first speech of the evening. “As I stand before you, I feel honoured… as I have watched you [become the] leading competitor you are today in your space of expertise. I am a firm believer that, had it not been for TUHF, black disadvantaged people would not have made their mark in the city and for that reason: We are what we are because of you.”
Ramalamula’s comment is evidenced in TUHF’s commitment to creating access to funding for entrepreneurs that may be overlooked by more traditional financiers. It is further demonstrated in TUHF’s focus on funding projects in areas of urban decline and in townships through its uMaStandi funding vehicle, where more traditional financiers have been reticent to commit.
“Like at our 10-year celebrations, this 20-year celebration comes at the end of a period of significant disruption – the pandemic now, and the financial crash then,” said Paul Jackson, CEO of TUHF, in his keynote address. “We’ve weathered the storms, thanks to our clients and our funders, and their extraordinary commitment to working together.”
Augy da Costa, another of TUHF’s longest standing clients, offered testimony as to TUHF’s reliability as a partner to his business, stating: “Today, I can proudly report that – over the last 17 years – TUHF has played an enormous role in converting both Elkam [da Costa’s first property] and a second building from dilapidated and forgotten buildings into successful residential and commercial hubs in the heart of a bustling city.”
He went on to say: “There’s a growing optimism in our sector. While high interest rates, high inflation, and low economic growth are of major concern to all South Africans, these same economic difficulties significantly increase the demand for well located, affordable rental housing.”
Jackson’s optimism for TUHF’s future as a business was echoed by current Board Chairman, Cas Coovadia. “TUHF will continue to reinvent ourselves in response to our market’s needs, and we will continue to demonstrate leadership in our niche.”
TUHF’s belief that urban densification has great potential to stimulate inclusive economic growth remains key to its future as a committed stakeholder and leading impact investor. The types of housing developments that TUHF and uMaStandi finance are fiscally net positive, bringing people into the cities and closer to work, education and play. Because TUHF remains serious about economic inclusiveness it will continue to invest in projects that create affordable rental housing where it’s most needed.