30 November 2023

There’s no denying that the Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) province has experienced some serious knocks in recent years. From the impacts of the pandemic, severe weather events, the July 2021 civil insurgence and subsequent nervous investor confidence. However, KZN is still the second largest economy in the country, and at the region’s core, beats the heart of strength and resilience – and a hunger to transform and grow back stronger. uMaStandi is enthusiastic about expanding its footprint in the province, and its reach and impact to townships around eThekwini and Msunduzi.

uMaStandi was established in 2015 with the primary objective of providing mortgage loans, complemented by tailored training and mentorship, to property entrepreneurs in townships. To date, uMaStandi has successfully garnered more than R125 million in funding, a clear testament to investors’ recognition of the considerable opportunities within this thriving property market segment and the growing demand for high-quality, affordable accommodation in townships. Notably, KZN exhibits a strong appetite for such opportunities, as confirmed by Zinhle Khumalo, the uMaStandi Portfolio Manager overseeing the province.

Having worked as an independent Project Review Consultant for uMaStandi, she understands the intricacies of construction and cost management, and has a background in housing and project management.

“As a Durban native, I have a deep understanding of the KZN market. There is so much untapped potential in the region, and it is important we promote the uMaStandi brand and services in KZN to increase awareness,” says Khumalo.

She says that it is critical to connect with key players in the province. These include the municipality and property forums in various townships.

“Property forums in townships like Claremont, Waterloo, and Umlazi play a significant role in the local real estate scene. However, gaining access and understanding their needs can be challenging. The uMaStandi team are actively engaging with these forums to showcase our services and establish connections. We are also collaborating with the Department of Economic Development at eThekwini Municipality, attending information sharing events, and seeking direct relationships with the Building Control and/or Town-planning department,” adds Khumalo.

One of the main challenges uMaStandi faces in KZN is the need to educate people about long-term property finance and how this can be leveraged to grow property portfolios. In many cases, potential clients have limited knowledge and understanding of how it works. To address this, uMaStandi hosts literacy events, inviting individuals to learn about the property investment process, from appraisal, construction to letting and property management. These sessions have been well received and have contributed to growing the uMaStandi brand.

Khumalo says: “The province has a high demand for self-contained bachelor and one-bedroom units. Many young professionals are relocating to areas close to their workplaces, or in search of meaningful employment opportunities. For example, a person living in Nazareth would be working around the Pinetown area, while Waterloo gets a lot of people who work at King Shaka Airport. Affordable housing options provide an attractive alternative to the pricier CBD rentals. uMaStandi recognises this demand and works with clients to develop housing solutions that cater to the needs of this segment.”

While the transition from educational and information sharing events to converting these to project applications takes time, uMaStandi has already seen an increasing number of individuals expressing interest in property investment. As part of this, uMaStandi hosts TPPE (TUHF Property Programme for Entrepreneurship) training sessions to help clients appraise deals and overcome challenges, enabling them to grow their portfolios.

To qualify for uMaStandi’s assistance, clients need to have a minimum of 20% equity in the deal and a good credit record. Once these requirements are met, uMaStandi guides clients through the entire process, from approval to construction and tenanting.

Since expanding into KZN, uMaStandi has undertaken several projects. Construction on a 20-unit, three-story building in KwaMashu has begun recently. It has a ground floor dedicated to parking and two upper floors consisting of ten units each. Other projects are in the approval phase and expected to commence in the coming months. These developments contribute to meeting the growing demand for quality affordable rental accommodation in the province.

“There is immense potential for property investment in KZN, and uMaStandi is at the forefront of unlocking these opportunities. We assist clients in various ways, from connecting them with estate agents to completing unfinished structures and securing tenants. The availability of land and the demand for affordable housing create a fertile ground for both seasoned investors and those new to the industry,” adds Khumalo.

By educating and assisting clients, uMaStandi is not only building successful projects but also creating a community of informed and empowered investors and entrepreneurs who can create generational wealth for their families. Currently, uMaStandi is financing in areas such as Waterloo, KwaMashu, KwaNdengezi, Nazareth, Umlazi, Claremont, and Pietermaritzburg. In the case of the latter, there are areas like Eden Dale, Imbali, and Sweet Waters with a high demand for rental accommodation, as well as being close to the CBD.

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