JOHANNESBURG - A business-minded 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, 25, is the founder and chief financial officer of Vuka-Darkie Capital Group, a property development firm based in Johannesburg but with operations spanning across South Africa and neighbouring countries.
The former waiter and barman says he started the company after running into challenges in securing a bond for a house he wanted to buy.
He says he could not secure a bond because he does not have a credit history as he mostly uses cash to transact.
Manzi, who dropped out of Grade 12 at KwaZulu-Natal’s Mountview Secondary School in Verulam in 2012 due to finances, says he noticed that he was not the only one experiencing such problems.
He describes himself as an innovative entrepreneur who does not like complaining much. “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 because of their product offering.
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.”
The entrepreneur says his product offering has been widely received by clients inside and outside the country.
“Right now we are developing properties in KwaZulu-Natal, a student accommodation to house 1000 students in Limpopo, a boarding school in the Eastern Cape,” says Manzi, who is also chief executive of ZMTN, a streaming TV network with over 300 channels operating across Africa.
“We are also running projects in Cape Town, Namibia and Botswana. Systems are also in place for the development of 100 houses for a corporate client in Johannesburg in January 2019.”
He says on a daily basis the company receives more than 500 emails from prospective clients inquiring about their services. “This means we are on to something. The work is piling up,” says Manzi, founder of Zillionair Air Technologies, a company manufacturing cellphones, tablets and laptops for corporate clients in Africa.
Hei says the company employs 50 people and that they have a further 300 posts to be filled “This is our way of addressing the unemployment crisis in the country. But what is sad is that you issue out 300 posts and you get over 1000 CVs.”
Manzi, who is also board chairperson of African Child Industries, a diversified company with interests in media, events management, automotive and hospitality industries, and architecture, says he did not enter the industry by chance.
He worked for construction company Fountain Civil Engineering when he left school in 2012 and started off as a site clerk before moving to the HR department.
Manzi then got 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 barman at ATasca, a Portuguese restaurant in Durban. He left in 2015.
The businessman says he is very passionate about Africa and has been to Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. He says his plan is to embark on a property development crusade across these and other countries.
“I want to build houses for the people of Africa because most property developers choose to focus on big projects such as building malls 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.”
Manzi says he wants to grow the company to have a solid footprint across the African continent before going international.
“This is because in the next five to 10 years we want to play with the big property boys in England, Europe and America.”