Vantage Properties, a thriving local property investment consultancy firm, has unveiled a grand strategy to reach out for opportunities in Africa, using Botswana and South Africa as a launchpad. The groupís CEO, SETHEBE MANAKE talks to Mmegi on the new heights Vantage plans to scale
Mmegi: What is driving Africa’s growth right now?
Manake: I like to say that Africa is coming of age. We are now realising our full potential, our ability to solve our own problems. Aside from the population statistics we are maturing as a continent and the opportunities are endless. The youngest population in the world! That is what drives growth.
Mmegi: What is your top strategic priority?
Manake: We are looking to grow into the continent quite aggressively, making Botswana our base. We want to change the landscape of the real estate investment space through information thereby changing the narrative of investment into Africa from an African perspective, to encourage Africa to Africa investment.
Mmegi: What markets or regions are a priority and why?
Manake: We have three priority areas. Botswana and South Africa are the most immediate because they give us a great platform to go into the rest of the continent. Then entry into East Africa becomes the next most critical position. In the long term, we have identified North and West Africa through Egypt and Nigeria.
We have elected these looking at the highest opportunities of growth, the sophistication of the markets and where we believe our products would be highly absorbed. Strategic partners are very critical. The approach of the government to business-related legislation and openness to investment is very much a significant weighting in the selection process.
Mmegi: What countries do you plan to establish a hub in and why?
Manake: The most importantly is Botswana. Our heart is in Botswana and we have to contribute to the development of this country. We want to offer a solution to diversification and unemployment. If we do not stand up and make decisions like these in our businesses then after the profits and the good returns, what would we have contributed to the economy of our country?
So in as much as it also makes business sense to have our head office in Botswana for strategic purposes, it is also important for us to play our part in this economy.
Mmegi: How have you readied yourself to establish a presence in the African market?
Manake: We are ready! We have established important partnerships in the technology space to enable us to have the reach that we need. We have identified key relationships in the markets we have identified. And carried out extensive studies
Mmegi: How do you commit to contributing to the growth of Africa?
Manake: I have always had a passion for solving Botswana’s problems from Botswana. It has been important for me that we create solutions that serve us. My heart has grown for Africa the more I know about it and as I got exposure to it, we will always be looking to create solutions that are relevant for us as Africans.
If it is funding structures they need to appeal to our nuances, behaviour and the way we perceive things. If it is accommodation we need to identify what is needed in the market and what should it have that adds value to our people. It must be reachable and relevant to our people. Solving problems is doing good, and when you make money while doing good then that is good business.
I have really drawn this from Richard Branson’s book, which I recently read, Screw Business as Usual. It has confirmed that my approach to business is the right way and I don’t have to be an extreme capitalist to succeed at it.
Mmegi: What is Vantage’s Africa strategy?
Manake: I love following decisions of our leaders as a continent because they do speak to priorities of governments and the direction of future development. They make it easy to determine which countries are advancing in development and which to look out for in the future. Take this year’s Ethiopian African Union summit decisions and declarations around continental free trade areas and Protection of African Investments to sustain investment in the youth, amongst others. If one is looking at the future of Africa, for me these two are the things to look out for if you are looking to grow your business in the continent.
Mmegi: How does it fit clearly into your corporate strategy?
Manake: These are quite fundamental for us in determining the direction our business should take and where the opportunities could be as well as what kind of current obstacles will reduce or dissolve over the next five to ten years. We use these to identify our growth opportunities and position ourselves for the most optimal growth.