Johannesburg’s landmark Highgate Shopping Mall is undergoing a complete transformation at the hands of young entrepreneurs Nicholas Tan and Catherine Lingyi Li as the new Home Africa Mall concept takes shape.
The project, which aims to connect building, home décor, plumbing, electrical and related trades directly to top local and Chinese products, will have the welcome ancillary benefit of adding 2000 jobs, according to the two pioneering businesspeople.
Home Africa Mall will host 250 international and local brands, offering a broad and deep product choice for customers.
Home Africa Mall has been purposefully designed to provide a unique service for businesses looking for construction and home-related products, as a first of its kind one-stop wholesale distribution hub, according to CEO Tan.
“Finding a prime location such as the Highgate Shopping Mall and being able to convert that into this fantastic experience for those in the construction, decorating and related trades, gives us a huge opportunity,” he says.
World class design
While the location and business concept give Home Africa a strong market positioning, the creative personality behind the new venture has been given significant thought at the hands of Lingyi Li who serves as Chief Marketing Officer.
Lingyi Li, who has studied media at the University of Toronto and design at the world-renowned Parsons School in New York, has applied commercial design techniques learned during her studies and under the tutelage of international celebrity designer Naeem Khan.
The result is a concept that not only delivers a different business advantage, but an exciting experiential concept for customers too.
“The role has been very exciting and terribly challenging because Home Africa Mall is the first of its kind on the African continent and it has been wonderful working with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce to create a novel, very modern and chic East Meets West concept,” she says.
Lingyi Li says Home Africa Mall will serve as an international trading hub between China and Africa so getting it right, within the constraints, is critical.
“I am an entrepreneur at heart and am very passionate about music, the arts and design, and a core mission of mine has been to contribute to the cultural advancement of South Africa, and Africa at large,” she says.
High demand from vendors
CEO Tan, who is just 27 years old says he has big dreams for Home Africa Mall, saying it offers an unseen value proposition to businesses and consumers. He says he is unconcerned about recent growing concerns about an over-saturated retail market brought about by the proliferation of shopping malls in recent years, declaring that the unique positioning of Home Africa Mall creates a different business landscape.
“The response to Home of Africa has been phenomenal in terms of people seeking occupation. This is the only mall of its kind in South Africa. We will have 250 international and local brands, 2000 jobs will be created and products available here will be 30% lower than in other malls.”
Further, Tan says small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) will receive assistance on product sourcing, price negotiations, quality control and supply chain costs with Chinese suppliers through Home Africa Mall, creating a significant benefit to them through using Home Africa Mall-based suppliers as their first choice.
Buy n Build, the international building materials supplier, is investing R500m and will anchor the new Home Africa mall.