Thursday, August 6, 2020

‘Becoming’ a real estate entrepreneur – Katlego Mokgethi’s journey thus far

Becoming a real estate entrepreneur in Botswana can be utterly frightening at times, as it entails a world of challenges, unpredictability and commitment to see things through to the end. It’s a tough road that many Batswana choose not to travel. 

On the flip, becoming a REALTOR can be one of the best careers for young people who want to create their own destiny. It’s one of those careers where you can be your own boss, set your own working hours and see the rewards of all your hard-work. 

For Katlego Mokgethi (29), Managing Director at Van De Carter Investments (PTY) LTD ‘becoming a real estate entrepreneur’ meant doing the unthinkable in this era: Quitting her 8-5pm. Making the leap from employee to Real Estate Entrepreneur meant not just surrendering a steady pay-cheque to pursue dreams of real estate gold but also selling her only car. The move, is clearly not for the faint-hearted. 

“I quit my full-time job after working just for two years. I then used the severance cheque and later sold my car to start Van De Carter Investments which is a real estate company that was incorporated some four years ago.”, Mokgethi told Sunday Standard in the capital Gaborone. 

While incorporating Van De Carter Investments might have been an easy task for the Gabane native, becoming a professional REALTOR did not come easily and cheap. For her first academic Degree Mokgethi sat for Accounting at the Botswana Accountancy College which later got her a job at a renowned local advertising agency – Leapfrog as Finance Manager. 

At the age of 24, she took a giant leap into real estate industry, starting as facility manager for a prime commercial development hosting over 85 office units. In April 2016, Mokgethi founded Van De Carter with a vision to be the leading pan-African diversified real estate company in the world.

“I believe that the growth of pan-African businesses is instrumental in the alleviation of unemployment and generational cycles of poverty in Africa. That is why at Van De Carter we have the ‘Market Players’ which is a corporate social initiative aimed at reducing the failure rate of citizen owned businesses in Botswana through incubation and acceleration programs”.

To become a REALTOR, Mokgethi self-sponsored for a Certificate in Real Estate at Ba-Isago University a move that helped her to obtain membership of the Real Estate Institute of Botswana (REIB) in 2019 and also becoming a bonafide a member of the Real Estate Advisory Council of Botswana (REAC).

The 29-year-old thought leader says she aspires to synergize her passion for strategy development and real estate to create a formidable empire that will be a yardstick for excellence in the African continent.

“Our long-term vision at Van De Carter is to develop and sell own property instead of just marketing and letting-out property owned by others. This will come at a later stage of our real estate enterprise development – a stage at which we also envision to provide the market with affordable product”

Mokgethi says there is need to come up with a product that would lower prices and make property affordable for a lot of Batswana. She maintains that such could come only when there is inclusive growth. 

While at the time of going to press Van De Carter’s new website was about to go LIVE, Mokgethi said she has been heavily reliant on social media, word of mouth and business associates to keep the ball rolling. 

“For you to get inside is not easy, it was another Motswana who gave me a chance. Modiredi Maruping wrote me a letter after probation which made it possible for me to be registered with REIB. In terms of marketing, we rely on the networking and branding we did over the past 4 years”, Mokgethi said. 

Mokgethi’s Van De Carter becomes active player in the real estate sector at a time when it is being transformed by the twin crises of COVID-19 and the climate emergency. Several months after the first Covid-19 bell was rang, the lives of so many have changed in ways they had never imagined. People can no longer meet, work, eat, shop, and socialize as they used to. In Botswana prospective property buyers are still reluctant to go out and physically ‘window shop’. 

To respond to the current and urgent threat of COVID-19, and to lay the groundwork to deal with what may be permanent changes for the industry after the crisis, companies in the real estate sector like Van De Carter would have to look to innovation as part of the solution. 

“We intend to use our soon to be launched website to conduct virtual sites-visits as part of our marketing tools. This would not only serve as a precautionary measure but also as time saving for prospective property buyers”, said Mokgethi. 

While she admits that its been hard to sell, let alone to let-out, “As 2020 had her own script written out differently”, Mokgethi believes that should not be the reason why Batswana cannot own high value property. 

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