Rali Mampeule is considered one of SA’s top black property entrepreneurs. In 2004, Limpopo-born Mampeule (34) acquired his own Chas Everitt International franchise based in Midrand. For his ground breaking acquisition, he was awarded the Nedbank Property Association Young Lion Award in 2005. The following year, he won the Property Professional of the Year in the Nedbank Property Association Awards and in 2007, the Africa Heritage Society (AHS) named him as its Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.

Never one to rest on his laurels, in 2008, Mampeule set up a new residential sales company, which grew into SA’s first black-owned national franchise group, Rali Properties (Pty) Ltd.

DESTINY MAN chats to Mampeule about his entrepreneurial journey:

Why did you decide to go into real estate? I always wanted a career that would offer me flexibility and a passive income. Real estate could offer me just that.

I started my career in 2000 as a self-employed roadside hawker, selling boerewors rolls, while studying for my B Com with Unisa, It was during that period that I met Charles Everitt who offered me a position as an assistant real estate agent at the Chas Everitt International property group branch in Bryanston, Johannesburg.

How has it been for you? It’s been the best blessing ever and I can’t look back . . . I’ve also had time to build my own personal balance sheet in the process.

Was it easy getting into the industry? I was at the right place at the right time and it worked out well. I have had my difficulties as a black person in an industry that is mostly white, but those issues only motivated me to work even harder.

You’ve been in the industry for 15 years, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned that you have used to grow your business? I have learned that you do not need money to own real estate. The reality is that you can use ‘Other People’s Money’. You just need to listen when people talk about possible opportunities and structure those deals. Gearing is the name of the game after ‘location, location, location’.

Is there room for black people in the industry and what are the key things that one needs to know if they want to venture into real estate and property development? There are opportunities for black people, but entrants just need to be aware that it is for the long run. The industry can give them the passive income they require, if they stick it out all the way to the top.

What are some of the obstacles that could lead to failure in property? This is not a cash-flow-friendly industry. Investments take time to mature, but do so with great returns. The slow pace can kill your business cash flow if proper financial models are not put in place accordingly.

Tell us about Phadima Group Holdings and its achievements. Phadima is an investment holding company in the real estate industry. The company holds controlling and/or strategic stakes in a business offering property services (sales and marketing) leasing, assets and facilities management, private property funding and property development.

I have spent the last five years as the CEO of the group, building our company balance sheet and diversifying the group into other strategic investments.

What are the most important things you teach your staff about moving the business forward? We teach our staff to focus their efforts on building a strong and skilled team. In our industry, the difference between a good salesperson and a great one is training. You have to understand your product well before you can sell it, because only then can you advise your customers properly. This level of understanding can only be achieved through training.

Lastly, what do you want other entrepreneurs to learn from you and what legacy do you want to leave behind as a black entrepreneur. I would like other entrepreneurs to learn that there is no such thing as ‘you can’t do it’ — just go and do it!

I’d like to leave a legacy of bringing new blood into the old veins of the real estate industry. I believe that it needs young, dynamic and goal-driven individuals to make it flourish.

I initiated the Rali Mampeule Learnership to provide previously disadvantaged individuals with the practical skills that are needed for them to succeed in the real estate industry. This initiative serves to give back to the South African community and to open a window of opportunity to these candidates.