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TRIS2023: connecting the people with passion to people with power

Jason McCormick, CEO of Exemplar REITail.

Day one of the Township Retail Investment Summit (TRIS) kicked off at the Mall of Thembisa by connecting the township believers with the dreamers on Thursday, the 31st of August 2023.

The two-day think tank event aims to foster insight and collaboration between entrepreneurs, retailers, developers and community members who believe in the power of the township space and the potential it has to drive positive impact.

Opened by Mmusi Maimane, the leader of Build One South Africa, day one of the event focused on the current challenges we are facing as a nation while highlighting industry and community game changers who are finding ways to excel despite this.

The investment panel, consisting of Ahmed Motara (Stanlib), Suren Naidoo (Moneyweb) and Ridwaan Loonat (Nedbank Property Finance) discussed the current market trends and the impact this may have on new players in the property space while the development panel (Jason McCormick, Exemplar; Mike Masemola, RPIH and Itumeleng Mothibeli, Vukile Property Fund) discussed the role of retail as a centre piece in the ongoing need for essential, convenient retail spaces that also provide the value add of ‘something to do with the family’.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the day was the Kasipreneur Pitch Session which saw five start-ups pitching their business to the audience and a panel of judges for the chance to win a rent -free twelve-month lease agreement in one of the Gauteng-based retail assets within the Exemplar portfolio.

The five brands – 2Selai; UDarkie, Bloc Footwear, Neighbour Roots and Conzas Biscuits – each had five minutes to pitch their business and convince both the judges and the audience that they are the deserving winner. While the judge’s votes are in, delegates in the audience have until the 1st of September to cast their votes for their favourite Kasipreneur who will be crowned in the last session of the event on Friday.

First hosted in November 2022, TRIS was the vision of township dreamers Lekau Sehoana (Drip), Rita Zwane (Imbizo Shisanyama), Miles Kubheka (Wakanda) and Jason McCormick (Exemplar) who believe in the power of the township space and the future of its entrepreneurs.

The success of the 2022 event resulted in an extended two-day programme with confirmed speakers for day two including Dr Mamphela Ramphele; Bulelani Babalwa (Township Entrepreneurs Alliance); Godi Mogajane (Delivery Ka Speed); Pertunia Sibanyoni (Franchise Association of South Africa) and Nakampe Molewa (Uber Eats).

TRIS 2023 aims to facilitate knowledge exchange and networking among delegates to create a vibrant and sustainable township retail ecosystem that will create accessibility and connectivity for all.