Knysna’s big city office fools Joburg hot-shots

A group of business executives who live in Knysna have found a way of living at the beach while pretending to work in the big city.

Now you can have Joburg telephone numbers, a Joburg address, and even a “virtual” secretary who re-routes all incoming calls to a renovated hotel on Knysna’s Main Road – or to wherever you happen to be.

“Nobody in Joburg can tell that I’m not in Joburg,” Andrew Wood said.

Last year he founded The Directors’ Club in Knysna and now he plans to expand it across the continent.

It recently signed up several new members, including the town’s deputy mayor.

“I didn’t do this because I wanted to make money. I needed a way to have my kids live a certain lifestyle,” Wood said.

“I’m done with Joburg and Cape Town, but at the same time people these days tend to only take you seriously if you are in Joburg – it is inherent in South African business that you need to be in Johannesburg.”

The double-storey Directors’ Club is styled to feel and look like a topend Johannesburg corporate, with security access control, high-speed internet, meeting rooms, and corporate suites with names like Madiba, Gandhi and Churchill.

The plan is to open similar offices in other cities around Africa so that members can still go to the “office”.

“They’ve done a darned good job – it’s very modern and friendly,” club member Catherine Russell said.

She is a web developer who moved to Knysna with her husband recently after six years abroad.

“We pay a monthly fee which allows us full access every working day. For me the main motivator is that my husband travels a lot and I work freelance, which means I’m alone at home most of the day.”

Shareholder Traci Wood said the concept was popular overseas and well suited to tech-savvy business people who rely on Skype, Wi-Fi, laptops and smart phones.

By the end of the year the management team hopes to have 15 branches across South Africa.

-Bobby Jordan

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