ENTREPRENEUR: How Rali Mampeule went from hawker to Harvard
This entrepreneur is buying vacant land at discounted prices to service and sell on for low-cost housing
The saying that location is everything in real estate doesn’t necessarily ring true for Rali Mampeule. "For me, it’s all about timing," he says.
Now 39, the Rand Park High School matriculant from Modjadji in Limpopo launched his career as a property entrepreneur thanks to a chance meeting 15 years ago with Paul Everitt, son of real estate tsar Charles Everitt.
The timing couldn’t have been better. It was the early 2000s, the cusp of SA’s strongest residential property boom in recent history.
Back then, Mampeule was a street hawker, selling boerewors rolls in Kyalami, Midrand. He was also studying for a BCom at Unisa. The Everitts, who recognised Mampeule’s drive and ambition, offered him a job as an assistant estate agent. He started from scratch, learning the basics. "For the first year I was mostly just dropping off pamphlets," he says. But he stuck it out and was soon working as a full-time agent in Chas Everitt’s Bryanston office. After selling his first property, he received a pay cheque for R16,000. He has never looked back.
Three years later, Mampeule negotiated a deal to open his own Chas Everitt International franchise in Midrand, becoming the first black real estate principal in SA. The franchise thrived, enabling Mampeule to pay off his business in a year. "That’s the beauty of real estate — it’s one of the few sectors where you don’t need money to make money."
He sold the franchise back to the Everitt family and founded Phadima Group Holdings, an investment company active in the commercial, retail and industrial property sectors. Mampeule has since built a formidable reputation as a deal-maker. This year he spearheaded a venture to help address SA’s 2-million housing shortfall — the SA Housing & Infrastructure Fund (Sahif).
The launch of Sahif in July seems as well-timed as Mampeule’s initial entry into real estate. He is buying vacant land at discounted prices from distressed residential housing estates and auctions. The idea is to subdivide the land into smaller, serviced stands of about 250m², which will be sold to the government and private sector to help speed up housing delivery.
The land in these developments is typically already zoned and serviced. Mampeule says the government is committed to deliver 100,000 serviced stands in the next five years to lower-to middle-income families who will provide their own top structures.
"But government currently doesn’t own enough well-located, serviced land to meet its target and it takes two to three years to get raw land ready for construction."
He thinks the Sahif can help bridge the gap. The fund has already assembled a potential R15.3bn stock of land spanning 25,000ha across five provinces. The bulk of it (60%) is in Gauteng. "About 430,000 people will benefit from our venture."
Mampeule believes he will have early-mover advantage as the Sahif is the first to offer serviced land sales to the government on such a large scale.
In July Mampeule became the only SA member of Forbes’s Real Estate Council — a prestigious invitation-only community of real estate executives. That will give him the chance to network and collaborate with other real estate leaders from across the globe.
The Forbes accolade coincided with Mampeule graduating with an Advanced Management Development Program (AMDP) in Real Estate at Harvard University in the US. Perfect timing — yet again.