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Nthabiseng Makgabo is valued property

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She learned early on the importance of determination, doggedness and the power tough women can have when seeking success – and now this young professional wants to help other youth find a home in the property sector’s value chain

From watching her grandmother build her own home by hand in a rural village to the boardrooms of Sandton, Nthabiseng Makgabo, 26, is one of the young movers and shakers who is bringing a mix of experience and heart into the property world.

Young black property professionals, she says, have a specific set of issues to deal with, and that is why the junior asset manager was determined to provide a space for them within the SA Institute of Black Property Professionals. The SAIBPP Young Professionals section, which she chairs, provides a lifeline for young property professionals in the field and a professional platform for the property working world.

“Many of us have recently graduated from university, with a wealth of knowledge about property, and we are walking into spaces that don’t know how to use us.

“We wanted to set up a community where we could support each other and help each other grow and not be forced into a dull box,” says Makgabo, who is based at Respublica Student Living which provides student accommodation.

“Even in 2020, my peers and I still find we are often the only black person in the room. We support each other on how to deal with this, on how to have our voices heard, and to meaningfully contribute to the property industry.”

The Young Professionals section also has student chapters with the aim familiarising students with what property is all about and to provide mentorship. The affable and determined Makgabo has a BSc in property studies from Wits University.

“It is a fairly new degree. When you tell people that you studied property they mostly associate that with real estate agents but that is only one important part of a big range of professions within the property sector.” She says via the SAIBPP they have access to people from JSE-listed companies.

It is a privilege, “but we also needed to discuss the entry level issues which is why Young Professionals is so important”. SAIBPP’s chief executive, Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, and its president Tholo Makhaola, describe Makgabo as one of the institute’s success stories. She was one of the first students to benefit from the organisation’s bursary fund.

“We are so proud of her and how she was determined to give back to this institute that has helped her,” they say. Makgabo says she got into property “by mistake”. “At the time, I was obsessed with television reality shows about the real estate world. It made me curious about the built environment.

“I was really taken by the property studies degree as it was describing how the property world worked from beginning to end and how it affects all our lives.” But before Wits called her, Makgabo had got a good solid grounding in property from three powerful women, her two grandmothers and her mother, two of whom built their homes from scratch by hand.

3 Questions with Makgabo

Why buy property?

For me, property is a legacy. It is one way to build up generational wealth. It allows you access to funding and access to grow a business as you can use your home as leverage. It is a vehicle full of opportunity to put you in a better position to help others and no one can take it from you easily. There is also the social aspect – you can have family and friends there.

Advice for those entering the property world:

◆ Find ways to educate yourself. Ensure you are getting advice from credible sources about information on the industry and do find mentorship from people who have done this before.

◆ Ensure that you fully understand any type of transaction or job you do.

◆ There are many ways to get into property, not just by acquiring bricks and mortar.

The value chain attached to property is vast: you can buy shares, get involved via banking, facilities management, and do property valuations, among many others.

How far have the youth come in the past 44 years?

“We have come a long way. There have been many changes but still so much needs to be done. The lockdown exposed just how many students can’t study because they do not have access to the internet, or devices to access the internet, and this shows how after 26 years of freedom socio-economic issues are still prevalent in the country. But students still manage to be fearless and shake things up in their pursuit of freedom – and I am thinking of the Fees Must Fall movement here, among others. I am also thinking about the campaigns we have been running as SAIBPP Young Professionals to educate people about the built environment. I am proud of who we are and what we have done and know we still have much to do.”

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