One Africa Media (OAM) CEO Justin Clarke has scooped the emerging category award in the prestigious EY World Entrepreneur 2014 – a competition he initially dismissed entering on the misplaced belief he was under-qualified.
This shows that Clarke has made a huge contribution to the southern African economy and the role he has played in founding the Private Property brand.
OAM owns market-leading businesses in the real estate, jobs, cars and travel online classified sectors in Africa including Jobberman.com. Its businesses and operations employ more than 600 people in three hubs in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, with satellite offices in Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Last year OAM, previously named Private Property Holdings, secured a $25-million round of investment for expanding its operations across Africa. The company operates Internet classified businesses in cars, travel, real estate and jobs and secured $20-million from Australian-listed jobs portal SEEK.
The EY award programme recognises entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. IT services group EOH CEO Asher Bohbot, who won the southern African master category, now competes against winning entrepreneurs from more than 50 countries for the one of the most coveted global business awards when the EY World Entrepreneur Awards are held in Monte Carlo next year in June.
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 Holding who, in 2005, became the first South African to win the global event.
Clarke says that the award has provided the company with a platform on which to consolidate a marketing and education strategy.
“This is an honour, particularly given the number of entrepreneurs across southern Africa, but it also affords the opportunity to showcase the holding company, namely OAM, as, while people know about the individual brands, few realise they fall under the same umbrella – or that we are even a South African company,” he says.
Clarke says his largest competitors play on the international arena, attracting the top brains in the field – and now OAM has the opportunity to maximise on also drawing that talent.
He also hopes the award would assist in cutting through South Africa’s red tape, visas and work permits when recruiting international skills into the country for this industry.
He 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 2010, the Internet was a relative unknown.
This had enabled OAM to grow organically but, in the year ahead of the capitalisation, the group had experienced significant competition growth in the markets. Clarke says SEEK’s investment had enabled the group to accelerate growth in its existing businesses, consolidate ownership, and expand operations to capitalise on the large market opportunities across the continent.
“While this award remains an honour, the hard work lies ahead as OAM takes advantage of ‘the perfect storm’ created from the company being ahead on the Internet curve, particularly in Africa where access to fast connectivity only came with the landing of the undersea cables around 2009; being leaders in the markets in which we operate and the opportunities inherent in the economic growth Africa presents with its burgeoning middle-class and urbanisation,” Clarke says.
Currently our footprint accounts for 540 million people and has GDP approaching $1.3-trillion – a significant size marketplace by any count.