The Estate Agency Affairs Board or EAAB was established in 1976, with the mandate to regulate and control certain activities of estate agents in the public interest. Transform Real Estate had the pleasure of sitting down with EAAB Chairman of Transformation Ms. Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, to find out her views of the industry, its future and transformation.
Right off the bat, Ms. Kula- Ameyaw says she is passionate about development of youth and woman. So much so that she is not only Chairman of Transformation at the EAAB, but also founder and
Chairman of Black Women Organisation South Africa, whose vision is to empower, position and grow black women businesses.
About herself and her career she says: “Over the years I have served on various boards with my focus mainly being in finance and general governance roles, but if you want to see me brighten up, commit and go an extra mile; developmental or transformational roles will do the trick.”
She goes on to say that she has also served as the Chairperson of the Transformation Committee at Business Unity South Africa (BUSA). Through this role she had the opportunity to perform a business case that saw 24 women and one man trained in Board Directorship for five days. “They have since gotten opportunities to serve in boards. Though it’s unfortunate that women must be ‘super’ qualified to be granted opportunities (another topic for another day that is linked to the current Doctorate study’s findings).”
“I have chaired the EAAB Transformation Committee since my appointment in 2016 as a board member. I should humbly say I pioneered the formation of a board Committee that never existed. I insisted, because we cannot have any other business without transformation. Transformation should be the basis of our governance business especially in the Real Estate Sector. We have tried various initiatives and as an impact believer I would wait for an appropriate time to see and share the impact.”
But what does transformation mean to Ms. Kula- Ameyaw? She says it means including the previously disadvantage individuals in the commercial benefits of the sector. There are the new BBBEE
codes that articulate clearly what areas we need to transform – from Ownership, Board Directorship, Executive, Enterprise Development and Employee representation. The BBBEE codes have been there,how many real estate businesses can raise their hand boldly and say we transformed?”
“The trend has been to get one of the items in the BBBEE scorecard and comply with it, for example, learnership. Following this pattern has had no significant impact on transformation as a whole. What has also failed is the government’s role in ensuring compliance. My take is that you cannot be forced to comply; I would like to appeal to the heart of leaders to do the right thing and be patriotic.”
Asked about reports that say the property sector is lagging behind in terms of transformation, Ms. Kula- Ameyaw responds: “It is a very fair and very unfortunate assessment that the property sector is lagging behind over two decades into our democracy, hence our focus on transformation and ensuring inclusivity of previously disadvantage individuals.”
But what are the major stumbling block in transforming the industry? “I think the legislation is the one of main stumbling blocks. This is followed closely by the desire of leadership amongst major players in the sector to transform. I cited legislation first but even the legislation was ‘perfect’ in driving transformation. That does not automatically translate into compliance. We need patriotic business leaders and owners who will transform their industries and ensure inclusivity not because it is a compliance issue (tick a box), but out of patriotism and a genuine desire for change.”
Does Ms. Kula- Ameyaw believ that enough is being done to develop and equip black people with skills to run their own agencies in the industry?
“I am not sure if the word enough is the correct one to use here; maybe we should direct the question to the players and statistics do not lie. If someone can showcase the success and prove a tangible impact, then we will be happy to use the word enough. At EAAB as part of our transformation agenda we try to develop young people (using existing estate agencies as hosts, whether those agencies equip them to be able to run their own agencies – that success story is yet to be shared.”
Additionally, she says, the EAAB is exploring a different angle as well. The approach is to ensure that those individuals who ran their businesses in the past and fell by the wayside due to non-compliance (which can be costly and burdensome for some) are supported and brought back into the sector.
She adds that the EAAB is challenging in transforming the industry by first tackling the legislation. Currently the Property Practitioners Bill has been approved by Cabinet and is undergoing the Parliamentary process.
“Concurrently we are lobbying businesses to transform and have entered into a number of Memorandum of Understanding that we think will yield positive results. In addition to this Services SETA (together with EAAB) have learnership and internships aimed at training young people to successful role players in the sector. Further this, we aim to improve our intergovernmental relations and ensure opportunities in government that really benefit the PDIs. This includes Metros, provincial and National government.”
“What we really need is for there to be both a vertical and horizontal inter-governmental focus on the transformation of the sector. EAAB can have an arrangement with one Metro but we are missing out on the impact of involving all Metros. That relationship needs to be facilitated by government. Government is looking for us to come forward and assist
with the Transformation and we are ready to do that, but what is needed is commitment and accountability from all players including government, real estate players and EAAB.
And what of land reform? “I think an oversight of the Constitution was to not differentiate between land and physical property, which has crated panic,” says Ms. Kula- Ameyaw. “The land restitution without compensation is the policy of the government of the day that seeks to redress the imbalances of the past. My take is that if the right thing was done from the onset we would not be in this situation now. Obviously it calls for a well thought-out, responsible and strategic approach.”
What people might not know about Ms. Kula- Ameyaw is that she is an active mentor to women in the industry in her personal capacity, and believes that more business people in the industry should step up to mentor, coach and sponsor youths and women.
She says: “I differentiate between coach, mentor and sponsorship deliberately. Sponsorship goes beyond coaching and vouches for the person, opens doors for the person and even helps with
funding. How many successful business people in the sector are doing that?”
“If I could then talk directly to the mentees or beneficiaries of such support or sponsorship, I would say ‘be willing to learn and learn fast. It might be hard at times, and you will be corrected, if someone commits his or her time please take that serious. No one owes you anything – but there are a few individuals out there willing to give you an opportunity. You can
only ask and no one will crucify you for asking.”
Transformation is not achieved in a day, or week, or month, it is a long-term achievement. How does one stay motivated? “I am a spiritual person and I believing in sowing a seed. If you understand the spiritual principles of sowing and reaping, going the extra mile is just the next logical step. I also believe in generational impact. That keeps me going, knowing that the fruit on my little labour might not be visible in a year or two but in generations to come it will be evident. As a Strategist I believe in short, medium term and long term planning.”
Ms. Kula- Ameyaw concludes by saying: “Transformation is a time based legislation and the Real Estate players should appreciate that. We cannot say two decades post democracy now and still be telling the same story three decades post democracy. I appeal to all Real Estate Players, Government at all levels and the PDIs to ensure that South African Real estate is transformed. In addition to personal legacy, we want to think of the bigger picture, discipline the nation and leave a generational legacy.