08 Mar, 2015
Posted by Emil Bengtsson

Patrick Chella is Co-Founder of Realty Africa, a platform for property crowd funding for sound investment ideas in Africa. With fifteen years’ experience working in Private Equity, Hedge Fund Services and the Banking sector, eight of those years with NIBC Bank, The Netherlands, he founded Realty Africa as an innovative approach to property investment opportunities in Africa. 

Would you please introduce your company to us?

Realty Africa is a property crowdfunding platform providing investors with informed investment opportunities in all aspects of property developments in Sub Saharan Africa. It will allow investors to invest in property development in countries throughout Africa, at the same time allowing developers access to new funding sources outside the traditional banking segment that has historically been out of reach for many.

The property crowdfunding environment is a securities based ecosystem specifically aimed at real estate and infrastructure development.

In which industries does Realty Africa operate?

Realty Africa falls into the new innovative products that form a part of the new disruptive technologies. Realty Africa is a technology company (an online marketplace) and a marketing organization.

What are the USPs of your business?

The added value of the platform is offering this marketplace to the worldwide community of investors and helping them in making an informed decision based on trust, transparency, clarity and a proper risk profile. All this while reducing the liquidity challenges facing several African nations when it comes to property and infrastructure developments. 

Who are your clients?

Our clients are both the investor community and the developers who offer the property development. The two parties interact on our online property crowdfunding platform.

Investor: These can be small private investors who participate with a minimum investment of USD 1000, or larger institutional investors.

Developer: These are private parties or companies that want to develop property of any kind (residential, tourist, large living units, factories, etc.); they are qualified to do so and possess the necessary documentation.

How does Realty Africa remain competitive in a fast-changing global marketplace?

Realty Africa is at the forefront of new technologies and has adapted to help raise development throughout Africa. By democratizing investments, we have ensured that not only are the developers funded but that the persons in the ‘crowd’ can have access to lucrative investments that they would otherwise have not been able to access. Further, Realty Africa will very soon be offering public seminars and trainings to further engage the ‘crowd’ and get direct feedback on products and services. 

What can be done by entrepreneurs and government to stimulate the business environment in Zimbabwe?

Starting a business in most African countries can be a rather daunting task. Registration processes are outdated, take far too long with unclear guidelines as to the full process of setting up businesses. Rules and regulations surrounding efforts such as indigenization and applicable industries must be taken into account and must be balanced between attracting foreign direct investments while maintaining a nation’s sovereign ownership of resources. 

What can you say about the targets, plans and ambitions of Realty Africa for 2015?

To deliver the best property crowdfunding resource in the world, systematically removing the barriers that currently prevent people from investing in property overseas. Our system creatively enables our customers to achieve measurable results and create financial freedom to live the life they love, at the same time giving back to the African community. It’s a win-win for investors, investments, developers, councils, governments and alike. 

Do you believe Social Media and the Internet to be a plus to the business environment, as it applies to your industry?

The internet is the backbone of our business as all crowdfunding documentation is done and exchanged online. This is where the business flourishes. All forms of social media are harnessed to building our brand and interacting with the public. We also have service agreements with one of the “big four” consultants as an independent third party to perform the check on the developer and the projects. This is essential since we are an online business and try to mitigate any negative perception towards investing in Africa.

What expectations do you have for Zimbabwe´s economy in 2015?

World Bank forecasts that Africa is poised to have a higher growth rate compared to Latin America, the West and parts of Asia for 2015 albeit less robust than in previous years. Realty Africa will be operating in several African countries, beginning in Southern Africa and expanding throughout the rest of Africa. A growing middle class is emerging strongly backed by a young generation of educated young adults who will move to more urban areas, giving way to a need for infrastructure to cater for the growing cities. Central banks around the world continue to maneuver their economies away from deflationary pressures which will have far reaching consequences for African economies. 

What will be the best performing economies in Africa in 2015?

One might express shock as I name Zimbabwe, however this country will outperform in 2015. What has changed is the dropping of western sanctions. This will see big benefits in the country coupled with a huge funding campaign from the EU at over $250 million. This should steer Zimbabwe into a positive direction for 2015.

I´ll also bet on Botswana, with its tactical easing of monetary policy to encourage a boost in the economy. It is a diamond-rich country with a relatively small population and should perform fairly well as diamond commodity prices will likely soar.

Kenya with a growth forecast of 6.9% for 2015 looks much stronger than it did a year earlier, with the Treasury promising more of the same bold moves on their policies.