We recognise that GREA touches many lives outside of African real estate. Our brands were borne from an indomitable believe in the potential of the continent and its people. We recognise and celebrate the qualities of guts, resilience, innovation, and tenacity demonstrated by our brand ambassadors and the inspiration they bring to many. It’s our privilege to play a part in the pursuit of their passions and the many lives they impact in the process.
Cricket all-rounder Simon Harmer didn’t follow the conventional path most other national cricketers take to the top of their game.
Yet, this spinner and right-arm off-break bowler took more first class wickets than any other bowler in 2018. More recently, Harmer was named among five international cricketers of the year in the 2020 edition of the authoritative Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. He played five tests for cricket mad South Africa’s national team, the Proteas, before pursuing his career abroad with a Kolpak contract with Essex in English county cricket.
During his stint in the South African national team he bagged 20 wickets against the sport’s greats such as the West Indies, Bangladesh and India, at an economy rate of less than 30 runs per wicket. Harmer captained Essex to the T20 Blast title in 2019 and delivered a stand-out performance both at the crease and with the ball in the final against Worcestershire at Edgbaston in Birmingham. He was also part of the Jozi Stars’ title-winning campaign in the inaugural edition of the Mzansi Super League in 2018.
Following the dissolvement of a ruling in terms of his Kolpak contract that made him ineligible for the South African national squad, Harmer is at a crossroads in his cricketing career as he weighs up the financial security of playing abroad against the pride and ambition of representing his country at the highest level. Regardless of his decision, Simon is by no means a stranger to doing things the unconventional and hard way.
“I didn’t come through the usual systems such as SA schools,” Harmer explains. “I started playing second team university cricket in Port Elizabeth, and through sheer performance and determination worked my way up the ranks. It boils down to how badly you want it – what sacrifices you are willing to make to achieve your goals,” he adds.
Simon was introduced to Grit during the Company’s involvement with the Oakley X-Over Challenge, which is partially a charitable drive at the Jeffreys Bay Winterfest in South Africa, where he became friends with Grit co-founder Greg Pearson.
In 2019 Simon met up with the Grit team in Nairobi, Kenya for the Last Male Standing Rhino Cup to commemorate the life of Sudan, at the time the last known male northern white rhino and to raise awareness of the plight of this near-extinct species. Established in 2015, the Last Male Standing Rhino Cup attracts close to 200 cricketers from across the world who come together for three days in June on a ground surrounded by wildlife and shadowed by the snow-capped Mount Kenya, to support Ol Pejeta Conservancy and rhino protection campaigns globally.
The Grit team and Simon share a passion for empowering youngsters through sport and they bonded during a cricket initiation session at Kawangware Primary School, a beneficiary of the Last Male Standing initiative.
As and ambassador of Grit, Simon promotes the Company wherever he can through brand awareness, such as name placement on his cricket bat. Simon’s excellent performance with Essex was especially fortuitous as Grit listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange – becoming the first company to do so – at around the same time.
Grit celebrates Simon’s indomitable spirit and conviction to live his passion, making his own luck despite it not being an easy road. As pioneers of African real estate, these are values we recognise and strongly resonate with. Simon, we salute you!
Cutting it in the highly competitive world of professional surfing takes more than raw talent. The lifestyle is often romanticised but like any professional athlete will tell you – what spectators don’t see is the hours and hours of training, the sacrifice of a social life and the huge cost burden of competing. It’s the reason why passion and dedication sometimes outweigh heaps of talent. But once in a while one finds the rare combination of superior talent matched by passion that will stay the course.
Although 14 year old Surprise Mpanza was literally born into surfing, it wasn’t until he was 10 years old that he stood on a surfboard. In fact, before that he couldn’t even swim.
Surprises’ father, Jakes Mpanza has been working for Jason Ribbink, an internationally renowned surfer and owner of Bilt Surfboards in Durban, South Africa for several years. Surprise grew up with Jason’s son and the two of them took up skateboarding together. It was his talent on a skateboard that first caught Jason’s eye and he realised that they had to get Surprise in the water.
Surprise’s competitive spirit and big heart almost cost him dearly when at Nippers (surf lifesaving training for children between 5 and 13) he ran into the ocean and promptly sunk because he couldn’t swim. The coach had to literally rescue him. When asked why he ran into the water knowing he couldn’t swim, his response was that he’s in a competition, and he wanted to win!
Within a year, Surprise was riding normal boards and training with the high performance surfing academy at Durban’s North Shore. In his second year of competing, he won the Under 12 Billabong National Series.
According to Head Coach at the High Performance Surfing Academy, former pro surfer and national champion Chad du Toit, Surprise often expects more from himself than any coach can. Du Toit rates him as one of top 14 year old surfers in the country, if not the top 15 or top 20 in the world. Having sponsorships is a huge deal for any surfer – from confidence levels of having sponsors’ stickers on your board to being at an event and having that backing.
Greg Pearson, co-founder of Grit as well as GREA’s philosophy has always been that when you come from humble beginnings you sometimes need a helping hand in getting to where you need to be. Putting action to his words, Greg initially supported Surprise from his own pocket on an ad-hoc basis, until such time he could secure sponsors. But a leg-up means nothing without dedication, hard work and an exceptional work ethic and it’s Surprise’s never say die outlook and passion that speaks
At age 27, Brian Furcy is a Mauritian surf sensation. Born and raised in Tamarin, he started surfing at age 11, under the watchful eyes of his uncle, Toyo Bauda and his friend Gunther, who are pioneers of surfing in Mauritius.
Having won Mauritius’ first surfing competition in many years held in October 2020, it was only natural for Furcy to become a brand ambassador for GREA. The surfing competition, hosted by GREA and Grit Real Estate Income Group as main sponsors, took place off Grand Sancho point break as a community moral booster shortly after the island nation emerged from its first hard economic lockdown following the Covid-19 pandemic.
GREA remains passionate about youth development through sport as it is an important tool in addressing socio-economic challenges across the globe. In addition to Brian, GREA also sponsors other international up-and-coming young surfers.
According to Furcy, surfing has kept him on the right path and has taught him more than school in recent years. His hopes are to pay this forward one day by helping to develop other Mauritian and African surfers.
The company acknowledges that for professional sports people like Brian, the inability to travel and represent their countries in sporting events across the world resulted in severe financial consequences.
With international travel restrictions being lifted, it is important for Brian to ensure he is in the best possible shape when returning to international competition as a contender in the World Surf League. Being able to get to the various point breaks across the island without a hassle is a crucial part of the preparation.
To this end, and to promote the launch of The Precinct, GREA’s latest state-of-the-art office development in Mauritius, the Company together with Grit donated a branded new Suzuki Jimny to Brian for the next year. This will allow him to travel around the island unrestricted for training, promotional and other commitments.