This young en­tre­pre­neur is mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion to re­duc­ing un­em­ploy­ment in SA, writes Luyolo Mkentane

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - BUSINESS -

A HIGH school dropout has started a prop­erty de­vel­op­ment com­pany to change the face of Africa and the lu­cra­tive con­struc­tion in­dus­try in the coun­try.

Vuk­ile Manzi is the founder and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of VukaDarkie Cap­i­tal Group, a prop­erty de­vel­op­ment firm with op­er­a­tions across South Africa and neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

The for­mer waiter and bar­man said he started the com­pany af­ter run­ning into chal­lenges in se­cur­ing a bond for a house he wanted to buy. He says he couldn’t se­cure a bond as he did not have a credit his­tory – he mostly uses cash to trans­act.

Manzi, who dropped out of Grade 12 at KwaZulu-Natal’s Mountview Sec­ondary School in Veru­lam as a re­sult of fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, says he no­ticed that he was not the only one ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such prob­lems.

He de­scribes him­self as an in­no­va­tive en­tre­pre­neur who doesn’t like to com­plain. “I look at the prob­lem and come up with a so­lu­tion.”

Manzi says Vuka-Darkie, which he says means “wake up black child”, is dif­fer­ent from other prop­erty de­vel­op­ment com­pa­nies. He says they se­cure land for their clients, which they de­velop ac­cord­ing to the clients’ spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

The com­pany of­fers pack­ages in­clud­ing a R3 500 monthly re­pay­ment on a R378 000 house and re­pay­ments of R20 000 on a house val­ued at R1.9 mil­lion.

Manzi says the re­pay­ment pe­riod is nine years com­pared to the in­dus­try stan­dard of 20 years.

“Most peo­ple are pay­ing up to three times more for their bonded houses. I’m here to change that.”

Manzi says his prod­uct of­fer­ing has been widely re­ceived in­side and out­side the coun­try.

“Right now we are de­vel­op­ing prop­er­ties in KwaZulu-Natal, a stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion to house 1 000 stu­dents in Lim­popo and a board­ing school in the Eastern Cape,” says Manzi.

Be­sides run­ning Vuka-Darkie, the 25-year-old is also the head of TV net­work streamer ZMTN which has more than 300 chan­nels across Africa, and Zil­lianair Air Tech­nolo­gies, which man­u­fac­tures cell­phones, tablets and lap­tops.

“We are also run­ning pro­jects in Cape Town, Namibia and Botswana,” he says. “Sys­tems are also in place for the de­vel­op­ment of 100 houses for a cor­po­rate client in Jo­han­nes­burg in Jan­uary 2019.”

He says the com­pany em­ploys 50 peo­ple and a fur­ther 300 posts need to be filled. “This is our way of ad­dress­ing the un­em­ploy­ment cri­sis in the coun­try. But what is sad is that you is­sue 300 posts and you get over 1 000 CVs,” he adds.

Manzi, who is also board chair­per­son of African Child In­dus­tries, a di­ver­si­fied com­pany with in­ter­ests in me­dia, events man­age­ments, au­to­mo­tive and hospi­tal­ity in­dus­tries, and ar­chi­tec­ture, says he didn’t en­ter the in­dus­try by chance.

He says his love for the prop­erty in­dus­try started when he worked for Foun­tain Civil En­gi­neer­ing af­ter he left school in 2012.

He says that he started off as a site clerk be­fore mov­ing to the HR depart­ment. He was then pro­moted to the fi­nance depart­ment where he had the op­por­tu­nity to han­dle a project worth R170 mil­lion. When he re­signed in 2013 he landed a job as a waiter and later a bar­man at ATasca, a Por­tuguese restau­rant in Dur­ban. He left in 2015.

He says his plan is to em­bark on a prop­erty de­vel­op­ment cru­sade in Africa. “I want to build houses for the peo­ple of Africa be­cause most prop­erty de­vel­op­ers choose to fo­cus on big pro­jects such as build­ing malls rather than build­ing houses for the up­per and mid­dle-in­come classes.

“It’s no se­cret that the African prop­erty de­vel­op­ment mar­ket is ripe with op­por­tu­ni­ties and I want to be part of that de­vel­op­ment.”

He says he wants to strengthen the com­pany foot­print in the con­ti­nent be­fore ven­tur­ing to the rest of the world.

“This is be­cause in the next five to 10 years we want to play with the big prop­erty boys in Eng­land, Europe and Amer­ica.”

VUK­ILE Manzi is the founder and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of the Vuka-Darkie Cap­i­tal Group.

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