Entrepreneur believes transformed real estate sector will build the country up
MAIN IMAGE: Andrica Lekganyane, real estate entrepreneur and business owner.
Pioneering real estate entrepreneur Andrica Lekganyane believes there is a much bigger role for the real estate industry to play in South Africa than to focus on chasing commission and management fees. In honour of Human Rights Month we asked her to reflect on transformation in the property sector and the lessons she learned.
It takes a determined tough person to succeed in the challenging real estate industry, even more so if you are a woman if one considers the scarcity of women in positions of leadership in the sector. Being one of the first female real estate entrepreneurs to be accredited as a Certified Property Manager – CPM® by the Institute of Real Estate Management in Africa, as well as the founder and Executive Chairwoman of her own company, Area Group Property Services, Andrica certainly appears to have what it takes.
She describes herself as a ‘real estate entrepreneur and passionate about it’ on her Twitter profile, someone who is “passionate about anything brick and mortar with a roof above”. However, when she was a teenager growing up in the township of Seshego, near Polokwane in Limpopo, she dreamed of becoming an economist. “Maybe it was because of, Mrs Thosago, who happened to be my favourite teacher, she just made Economics lectures easy to understand,” she jokes.
She was raised by her mother, who was a single parent. “Growing up wasn’t easy, however, it developed me into the courageous woman I am today,” Andrica says.
Best decision ever made
As it happens, after school, when Andrica applied to study Accountancy at Wits Technikon, there was no space, but they sent her a brochure introducing a new qualification called Real Estate. She made her decision and enrolled for a National Diploma in Real Estate – a decision that she says she will forever be proud of.
Having courage stood her in good stead when, shortly after graduating from Wits Technikon, she found herself in 2005 as a trainee in the 12-month mentorship programme of JHI Real Estate in Rosebank known under the acronym CRAFT which stands for ‘Creating real advancement for tomorrow’.
“I was very young, 19 years turning 20 years old, in a field dominated by experienced old white men,” Andrica recalls.
The programme exposed her to various aspects within the real estate arena, such as brokering, property management (retail/industrial/offices), valuations, strategic property projects (CRES) to mention a few.
She subsequently worked in various roles including property portfolio management, centre management, leasing at a number of property companies in their real estate departments. Meanwhile she also continued with her academic career and acquired a B.com Hon in Real Estate, a B.Tech degree in Real Estate Management and mid this year will graduate with an MSc Building – she is grateful for study bursaries that she was awarded by the Women’s Property Network and the South African Council of Shopping Centres.
Previously she was appointed as board director at the Real Estate Business Owner Association (REBOSA), but currently she is full time in business as the owner and executive of her own company which provides comprehensive property services.
Learning to speak up
Looking back at her career over the last 16 years one thing Andrica says one of the first things she had to learn “was to overcome being intimidated by the presence of male executives and teach myself how to confidently express my opinions in such environments where a female voice was not always the norm.”
Working with the best in the property industry certainly paid off, as they shared their knowledge with her.
“I always believe your network is your biggest asset, and I’ve kept contact with most people I’ve known since my career debut. I value the experience and knowledge I’ve learned from industry gurus such as Mr Maurice Mdlolo, Mr Meshack Phiri, Mr Jay Junkoon, Mr Malcolm Horne, Mr Johan Sauermann, Mrs Nikiwe Mkhabela and Mr Jan Le Roux, who have contributed immensely towards my development, always willing to share information, their skills, and have been great mentors whom I can lean on, to this day,” says Andrica.
“I’ve always known I was born to be an entrepreneur and always used my entrepreneurial passion in every organisation I have worked for, but I needed the industry knowledge to help me build a brand that will stand out for many decades to come, by providing professional real estate services,” she adds.
Transformation can take the sector to new heights
Speaking of being a minority voice, Andrica says she was 19 years old when she first learned about the need for transformation in the property sector. “It still upsets me to know that we still have very far to go to achieve our transformation goals as a sector.”
More initiatives to promote transformation won’t work unless they are closely monitored. She says what is needed is a dedicated transformation committee who will solely be responsible to ensure that real estate business owners are fully acquainted with the goals of this industry as far as transformation is concerned and they have all the necessary resources and skills to tackle the various challenges they are bound to face.
For Andrica transformation is not about making the richer poor and vice versa. Rather she says transforming the sector will in the long run induce a greater number of experienced and qualified property professionals, “who can take not only the South African property sector but the African property market at large, to new heights”.
“We need to do away with a “border-line mentality” and start working closely with the rest of the African continent to ensure that we build generational wealth through efficient and effective property investment models and unfortunately this cannot be achieved by a limited number of people. We need to come together, introduce strategies which will not only work for urban areas but also promote the second-hand property market in the rural areas”, explains Andrica.
She continues: “I dream of a real estate community whose sole purpose is not only to focus on getting commission, management fees and acquire the market share/sole mandates, but a community which is cognisant about the importance of the real estate profession at large. I believe that our industry can contribute largely to the development of this country, by providing quality and compliant properties across all sectors including the public sector, educating property owners about the importance of property management, and also ensuring that we have educational programmes which can also be reached by the disadvantaged through FETs and other academic channels.”
Personally, her passion for brick and mortar flows from a strong belief that “Real Estate is not luxury, real estate is a basic need.”
“I am in this space to help eradicate the social ills of our communities, through the transfer of knowledge, development of quality homes (commercial and residential) and contribute in developing emerging property investors, especially in black townships and rural areas,” ends Andrica.
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