To add substance to the notion of defining what makes markets work for the poor, in an urban land context, one of Urban Landmark's priority areas of engagement is the commercial property market. To improve the programme's exposure within this particular market, Urban Landmark participated in the exhibition at the 2009 Convention of the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA), held at the International Convention Centre in Durban from 3 - 5 June 2009.
SAPOA was established in 1966 by the leading property investment organisations to bring together all role players in the commercial property field and create a powerful platform for property investors. The association is committed to protecting the interests of the commercial and industrial property sectors, in terms of ownership, management and development.
Some of the main sponsors and participants at this year's convention included Nedbank Corporate, Investec, Tongaat Hulett, the Department of Human Settlements, JHI, Plascon, and many others. Urban LandMark's stand at the Conference was small but well designed and strategically placed. The stand was mainly manned by Lerato Ndjwili-Potele (administrative executive officer), with Jonathan Diederiks (programme manager) and Mark Napier (programme director) in supporting roles.
According to Jonathan, the stand was very popular, possibly due to its novel identity as an NGO amongst the commercial property 'bigwigs'. "Our name and subject matter also attracted a lot of attention, with most people asking us to explain a bit more about what Urban LandMark is and what it does," he says.
"From the enquiries and discussions it was evident that research into urban-centred development, tenure issues, and the engagement of the poor by commercial developers is somewhat lacking," Mark points out. "It was also clear that, although commercial property owners and developers have a predominantly business- orientated approach, they are not unwilling to engage with other stakeholders; they are just not sure how this could or should happen."
"Our presence at the conference was well worth it, and had the desired result of improving our exposure, not only as an entity but also as a potential service provider to commercial property owners and developers," Mark concludes.