Howsit Murray, tell us about yourself?
Born-and-raised in Durban, South African, with a passion for people. I’m proud to have developed a socially-conscious property business that uplifts entrepreneurs and communities across the globe. By age thirty with the help of an incredible team, I had built an R500m shopping centre portfolio with additional private equity investments generating a combined annual revenue of R250m.
In 2015, I founded the Big Box Co, a company which empowers entrepreneurs through a unique retail platform to help grow their start-ups into sustainable success stories. Each box is designed to create an immersive shopping experience for its surrounding community.
Having grown up in a humble home, I’m especially passionate about mentoring young business owners with limited resources. Brick by brick, we’ll continue to create lasting change in South Africa and abroad.
Born out of Durban, South Africa, we’re a progressive team of property developers and entrepreneurs, we blend big ideas with expertise with the goal of changing the face of retail-led mixed-use development globally. “A bunch of out-the-box thinkers.”
Birth of the idea for Big Box Co?
Retail is changing. Large format shopping malls of the past are under increasing pressure. People are drawn to experiences, to stories, to a sense of connection. The traditional shopping centres of the past are cumbersome and offer none of the above. They are slow to change and lack community connection.
We needed to create something dynamic, something innovative. An idea which will still be relevant in 20 years time. That is where Big Box Co comes in.
You have said that people were making a mistake in how they were approaching the job problem…
I don’t believe there is any sustainability at the moment. We are big believers in the saying “teach a man to fish rather than give him fish”. In our video below you’ll find our thoughts on the job problem in SA and how Big Box may be able to help create a solution to that problem.
You guys “find, educate and mentor young entrepreneurs”…
Yes, we have a program called Big Box Life which is set up as a non-profit which does exactly that. We have a fully fledged training facility on site which does exactly that. We strategically partner with people and companies who add value to the journey of any one of our “boxpreneurs”.
How did you guys come up with the idea of using refurbished shipping containers?
Refurbished shipping containers are modular in nature and suit small entrepreneurs. They are also in keeping with green building policies as they are recycled. They are also easy to retrofit on site as well as to transport.
You place boxes in places where there are many feet…
Big Box sites are located next to busy train stations or in commuter nodes so that our ‘boxpreneurs’ always have a steady footfall of ‘feet’ or customers walking past their stores.
You are trying to create an environment which helps creates sustainable businesses….
The combination of great site selection, creative spaces conducive to retail plus value added practical entrepreneurial education is something which we think will create sustainability in the long term. Creating eco-systems where entrepreneurs can grow together is our core objective.
25-40 businesses per container…
Our aim is to build an average of 25-40 box shops for our boxpreneurs per Big Box site.
How has Big Box Co influenced communities?
Community initiatives are core to our DNA and we identify specific projects within each community we invest in that we think will add value to the area based on what is required. In Kwmashu, for instance, we created a business against crime project which has seen crime reduce by 70% over a year and has employed some 20 volunteers from the area. We have also created Kwamashu’s first skate ramp because we saw how many young people there were skating without an adequate facility to do so.
What kind of Positive change do you wish to create…
We aim to empower the world’s entrepreneurs with opportunities and a future-proof retail platform that’ll transform their start-ups into sustainable success stories. Ultimately, we want to ignite an entrepreneurial revolution that strengthens communities!
To build 300 Big Box sites in the top 50 cities in the world in 10 years.
How can we help?
Spread the word!
Photo credit: Lauren Setterburg.
Video credit: Tom Foolery http://tomfoolery.tv