Zimbabwean-born UK-based entrepreneur Peaceful Chimbwanda is the driving force behind Africa Abroad Properties which has now rebranded to Propertyend.com, an online African property portal linking sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants. Nehanda Radio spoke to him about his business.
Tell us about Propertyend.com
Propertyend.com, formerly known as Africa Abroad Properties, is an online African property portal linking sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants.
Hosted and run from the UK, Propertyend.com is the ultimate go to place uniquely designed to bring all properties across the African continent onto a single platform.
Who is behind Propertyend.com?
Peaceful Chimbwanda is a Zimbabwean-born UK-based entrepreneur. Resident in the city of Coventry in the West Midlands (UK), Peaceful is the CEO of Propertyend.com
Twelve years ago, I set about buying a property in my home country of Zimbabwe from my then base of the USA. Being so far away from Zimbabwe and with very little to no direct contact or interaction with the network of estate agents in that country, what began as a simple desire from my living room to find a property in my home country, soon became a nightmare.
Just finding a single property to consider buying became an impossible task as nothing was available online to look at. I must admit business use of the internet and websites has since improved in Zimbabwe since 12 year ago, but at the time businesses, particularly estate agents, didn’t seem to see the need for any online presence.
After struggling to find any meaningful property listings online, I imagined how much of my frustration was shared with many other people from Zimbabwe, or indeed other African countries, in the diaspora. In that moment of frustration, the idea for a trans-African online property portal was born.
How old is the idea?
Although the idea came 12 years ago while I was in America, it remained in incubation for 4 years until 2009 when I had moved to settle in the UK. It was then that the idea became a business.
What motivates you to wake up daily?
Knowing that each time I wake up in the morning, I am a step closer to achieving my goals is perhaps my single largest motivation. Added to that, it is the satisfaction that comes from knowing the hard work of yesterday is another day closer to bearing fruit. I also have around me a great team of motivated and hardworking individuals who continually challenge me to be better.
What are the challenges facing your business?
The primary challenge we are increasingly facing is that of similar portals sprouting everywhere as the world is getting more and more digital. It has become so easy for anyone to wake-up and buy a ready-made fancy looking website template that appears to offer the same functionalities as Propertyend.com.
We are however up to the challenges as we believe the relationships we have cultivated with estate agents and developers on the African continent over the years give us the edge. We have also developed a robust customer care culture which removes some of the fears associated with buying or selling a property in Africa.
What important role does your portal play to its target market?
Propertyend.com is a one stop property market. It is as good as putting all African estate agents and developers on the same street, but only virtual. What we do for our customers on both ends of the market is the screening process designed to remove those fears traditionally associated with buying and selling of property on the African continent.
There have been stories of buyers entering into a transaction for a property advertised by a seemingly genuine estate agent who only turns out to be bogus. We do the hard work of carrying out all necessary due diligence so that any property listed on our portal is vetted and qualified as being from a genuine estate agent or developer in the respective country across Africa.
When did you leave Zimbabwe?
I left Zimbabwe in 1998 to study architecture at the Franklin Institute of Boston, Massachusetts. I also obtained a qualification in Management Information Systems before relocating to the UK in 2006 with my family.
If you were to go back to Zimbabwe, what plans would you have for the country?
My stay in America and the UK has opened my eyes to the role played by a world class infrastructure in attracting investment. I have observed that what normally makes an impression to a first time visitor to this country and America is the state of infrastructure; the road networks and transportation systems.
I believe my educational qualifications and exposure will have a small role to play in the development of that country’s infrastructure. I would also like to see faith being restored in the country’s property market. There are far too many sad stories of people losing their hard earned cash to unscrupulous operators.
What would you like to see happen to your business in 5-10 years?
I would like us to be the undisputed authority in African online property marketing.
Tell us the highlights of your business so far?
We have over the years built a business currently boasting a good portfolio of property listings all from regulated estate agents. Having some of best known estate agents in various African countries listing with us is a major highlight. I have also turned down a number of offers to buy the business from us. I believe there is still a lot of value to be created in it before we reach that stage.