One Africa Media (OAM) CEO Justin Clarke has been honoured with a nomination as a finalist in the southern Africa chapter of the EY World Entrepreneur Awards for 2014 in the emerging category, paying tribute to a man who co-founded the Private Property brand - which is now considered South Africa's leading real estate portal.
The EY award programme recognises entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.
Announced last week with the regional winners to be released on 12 November, Clarke competes against three other finalists - The Drain Surgeon, Nautic Africa and Cosmic Fashion Options - in the emerging category for the honour of presenting southern Africa at the international World Entrepreneur Awards in Monte Carlo, in June 2015.
In the master category, winning entrepreneurs from more than 50 countries compete for one of the most coveted global business awards. Previous African winners include James Mwangi, CEO and MD of Kenya's Equity Bank Limited, who took the 2012 global title, and the late Bill Lynch of Imperial Holdings who, in 2005, became the first-ever South African to win the global event.
Privileged to have been nominated, Clarke says the recognition has made him "reflect on the achievements and milestones" he has reached since the inception of Private Property in 1998.
"This is an honour, particularly given the high caliber of entrepreneurs across sub saharan Africa, but it also affords us the opportunity to showcase the holding company, One Africa Media, as, while many people know about our individual brands, few realise they are part of the same group - or that we are even a South African company," he says.
Last year OAM, previously named Private Property Holdings, secured a $25m round of investment for expanding its operations across sub-Saharan Africa. The company operates internet classifieds businesses in cars, travel, real estate and jobs, and secured $20m from Australian-listed jobs portal SEEK.
Clarke says a significant portion of OAM is currently owned by Tiger Global Management, the New York-based venture capital fund that already partners with SEEK in other ventures across Asia and Latin America. That investment was heralded as "a real endorsement of Africa's online potential" as, when OAM began investing in local entrepreneurs in East and West Africa in 2009, the internet was very new and out of reach of many ordinary consumers.
This enabled OAM to get in early and grow organically, but in the years ahead of the capitalisation, the group experienced significant competition growth. Clarke says SEEK's investment has enabled the group to accelerate growth in its existing businesses and expand operations to capitalise on the large market opportunities across the continent.
Clarke anticipates growing OAM tenfold into a $1bn company within five years, which would enable him to consider a listing on the US stock market Nasdaq. He believes that the entity is more appropriate for the type of business OAM is building, as investors better understand the Internet and e-commerce space than was currently the case in South Africa.
"This nomination is the first step to seeing those goals come to fruition," he says.
OAM owns market-leading businesses in the real estate, jobs, cars and travel online classified sectors in Africa. Its businesses and operations employ more than 600 people in eight countries, with key hubs in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya - all countries with rapidly-growing gross domestic products and internet and mobile penetration rates.
Clarke says that the group operates leading positions by traffic, page views, advertising volume and revenue in real estate (www.privateproperty.co.za
- South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya); travel (www.safarinow.com
- inventory across south and east Africa); jobs (www.jobberman.com
- West and East Africa) and cars www.cheki.com, West and East Africa and some southern states).