Amy Biehl Foundation purchases Klipfontein property

Following eight years of being given free office space, the Amy Biehl Foundation has finally managed to purchase a property of their own, says Richard Gaertner, commercial property broker at RE/MAX Living.

With the help of First National Bank, RE/MAX and a few other key sponsors, the Amy Biehl Foundation was able set up a deal to obtain an educational training facility in Sybrand Park on Klipfontein Road that was previously owned by New Africa Theatre Association. The handover of the historically significant 1500 square meter property is a realisation of a long term dream of the organisation. Acquiring the buildings will enable the Amy Biehl Foundation to grow and continue its work with underprivileged youth.
“Once we had the assurance from the Amy Biehl Foundation that they had a positive response from initial funding requests, we consulted with the seller and proceeded with an offer to purchase. Even though New Africa Theatre Association, which is also a non-profit organisation, had received a cash offer for the property, they turned it down in favour of the possibility to pass this building on to the Amy Biehl Foundation for the amount it would take to dissolve their company. The agreed upon price was less than R2 000/m2. As an organisation that has a similar ethos, the New Africa Theatre Association felt that it would ensure some continuity of their efforts and assist the Amy Biehl Foundation in the remarkable work that they do,” says Gaertner.

The foundation is named after Amy Biehl, an American student and dynamic, gifted young woman who dedicated much of her time to making a difference in this country. Amy worked at the University of the Western Cape’s Community Law Centre on the new Constitution and Women’s Rights, as well as helped register voters for the country’s first free elections in 1994. 

Sadly on 25 August 1993, Amy’s life was tragically cut short in an act of political mob violence in the Guguletu township. Determined to honour Amy’s love of South Africa and her belief in the truth and reconciliation process, Amy’s parents founded the organisation. Her father died in 2002, leaving the foundation without funding. The establishment had to become a totally self-sufficient South African organisation.

The non-profit organisation offers programmes to develop and empower youth between the ages of 5 and 18 years old, who are living in the challenged and vulnerable communities within the Western Cape. The programmes aim to supplement the inadequacies of the educational system experienced in the townships and are having a very positive effect on the youth and the communities in which they live.

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that he is encouraged by the participation in the community and involvement on ground level by RE/MAX agents around the country, an aspect which forms part of the company’s ethos.

Gaertner says that the property suits the foundation’s current needs and is big enough for the planned future growth of the organisation. Given the nature of the work that the Amy Biehl Foundation is involved in, the property is also ideally placed.  A historically significant ‘struggle’ road, Klipfontein is fast becoming a highway of integration of formally disadvantaged areas and the Southern Suburbs.

Managing Director of the Amy Biehl Foundation, Kevin Chaplin, says that the property offers a chance for the organisation to make a bigger difference and influence more people in the community. “This property will give us the opportunity to increase our reach by adding entrepreneurial skills development classes for those between the ages of 18 and 25 years old. The building will also become our new headquarters and provide accommodation for our volunteer staff,” says Chaplin. “We piloted a very successful one month entrepreneurial skills development programme in hospitality and fashion design in October, but have not been able to roll this out further due to a lack of premises. This property gives us the opportunity to have permanent morning, afternoon and evening classes in hospitality, fashion design, beauty, beading, plumbing, financial literacy and much more. The hospitality classroom will have 10 stoves and ovens and a fully-fitted kitchen. In the fashion design class we will have sewing machines and other equipment.”

He adds that while FNB has provided the bridging finance and contributed towards the purchase the property along with other sponsors, but there is still a lot of money that needs to be raised in order to pay off the property and renovate it into a liveable and acceptable standard.
“We need to raise R 4.5 million for the purchase price of R 2.6 million and then R 1.9 million to renovate it. We have raised R 1.1 million so far since 18 February and I need compassionate visionaries to come onboard and partner with Amy Biehl Foundation by donating to our building project. Our existence and operation depends on your generosity and vision. For a R50 000 contribution, sponsors will have their company logo displayed on the property. Given the immense traffic that passes along Klipfontein Road, this is an excellent form of advertising while contributing to a worthy cause,” says Chaplin.
The organisation will provide a tax certificate for SARS to sponsors for the value of their donation and they will score points on their BEE scorecard.

For more information, contact Kevin or Afiefa Behardien, chief operations officer on 083 564 5568.

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