Law graduate Ramovha had only R50 000 when he embarked on a mission to create wealth for his people and change the course of the retail landscape and history in rural Venda a decade ago.
Today his company, Thavhani Property Investments, co-owns the R1 billion Thavhani Mall in Thohoyandou. The 50 000m² mall which boasts 137 shops, opened late last year and is set for further development.
Ramovha, who’s the traditional leader of Mulenzhe – a vast cluster of rural villages in Limpopo – says it will be not just a mall, but a self-contained city within Thohoyandou.
His dream started with the development of a shopping centre in Elim, some 40km south of Thohoyandou, in 2005. He followed this up with the development of the Nzhelele Valley Shopping centre three years later and the Phangami Shopping Centre in 2009.
But this wasn’t enough to satisfy the needs of people in the area, who still had to travel long distances to shop for basic goods. “I realised there was still a huge demand for retail in Thohoyandou,” says Ramovha.
In 2009, he began planning the Thavhani Mall, but it was only in 2014 that everything fell into place. Through his company, he partnered with Flanagan & Gerard Property Development & Investment. After approaching Rand Merchant Bank, the company received a R1 billion loan to start construction on the mall.
JSE-listed REIT Vukile Property Fund joined the party, securing a 33% stake in the mall. It’s now set for phases two and three development and is earmarked for completion in 2020.
Ramovha says it will contain an office park, a motor city, a 300-bed private hospital, a gym and a hotel.