60 developers sign up on Realty Africa platform

REALTY Africa, a property crowd-funding platform providing investors with opportunities in all aspects of development in southern Africa, has registered more than 60 signed-up developers, businessdigest has learnt.

Kudzai Kuwaza

The platform went live at the beginning of February, becoming the first entity to offer property crowd-funding in Africa. The three countries involved in the project are Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana.

Crowd-funding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, usually through the internet.

“We have over 60 registered and signed-up developers with a 10% documentation success rate in three months period since we launched the platform,” Realty Africa Zimbabwe country representative Lindah Mbidzo told businessdigest this week. “We have the first cross-border vehicle that will allow investors from one African country to have ownership in another African country directly from their laptops at home unlike real estate funds where they have no control of what the Fund manager allocates in their portfolio.”

Mbidzo said the hurdles to slow adoption of the project related to documentation such as the Know-Your-Customer resentment from people who do not understanding the importance of the exercise as well as the extensive application form.
“For these reasons, the process of getting a project live is cumbersome and takes time,” Mbidzo revealed.

She said there were a number of projects lined up, which are needed in all three countries especially in student housing, housing of gated communities and universities.

Mbidzo said Realty Africa is earmarking projects that are worth between US$5 million and US$20 million.

“Trends from the institutional investor side tend towards bigger projects that are worth US$20 million and above that are usually taken up by NGOs and investment syndications that want to dictate the build and enjoy a massive chunk of profits,” Mbidzo said. “We as Realty Africa see a niche space not covered in projects, especially leading up to the sizes between US$5 million to US$20 million.”

Mbidzo said Realty Africa has noted country differences in attitude towards investors.

She said Zimbabwe’s indigenisation policy has had a huge impact on foreigners’ perception at a time when the country needed investment the most.

“Attitude towards the technology sector from foreign innovation is hampered by indigenisation which should not affect this space compared to a mining discussion where a country may want to take control of its natural resources,” Mbidzo said.

She said Botswana has the best structure to attract foreign investment with South Africa being “the clear winner simply because of the attitude of wanting to get the job done regardless of how challenging the situation and wanting to be ahead of the game with good problem solving and a mentality of trying to resolve whatever comes their way.”

Mbidzo said the crowd funding platform is also focusing on other products such as Diaspora Construction, as well as Realty Africa Connect service, which is due end of the month. She said this unique product will connect those with land with project developers and architects.