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When life gives you lemons, make gold - my journey to becoming a property entrepreneur

Life can be challenging and sometimes downright unfair. It is how we respond to these challenges and unfairness that determines our destiny. No one else lives inside your head except for you, and the daily decisions you make in response to everything you see, hear and dream about are what shape your future. My personal mantra has become, "When life gives you lemons, make gold."
Taurai Jack, property investor and founder of M5 Property Addicts
Taurai Jack, property investor and founder of M5 Property Addicts

I was a foster child. Not because both of my parents passed away unexpectedly and I got ‘plugged into the system’ but because my parents abandoned me by their choices. My biological mother left me in a soccer stadium when I was only around two months old. When I became a teenager, I discovered my mom and dad were, in fact, my foster parents.

Like many children in South Africa, I didn’t have a mom and dad I could fall back onto when things became financially challenging. When life wasn’t working out the way I had dreamed or hoped for, I had to decide, on my own, how I would respond. These challenges built a tenacity in me to succeed and a drive to work three times harder than my counterparts so I could create a legacy of substance.

After completing my schooling, I worked in the financial services industry, employed by one of the big banks. Here, I focused on change management. I knew that retrenchments were on the horizon and that decisions again needed to be made on my behalf. I had to decide how I would respond to being potentially unemployed, an overwhelming thought for any individual.

My grandmother had a veggie market in Harare, Zimbabwe and was very entrepreneurial. I would join her there during the school holidays and work for some pocket money which assisted in providing food for the family. I learned a lot from Gogo and am grateful for those times. Deciding to work in that veggie market was one of the many reactions to challenging situations that moulded me into thinking creatively about income generation.

I began looking for alternative streams of income before retrenchment became a reality for me. I thought, ‘How do I keep ahead of inflation?', ‘How can I build and sustain the lifestyle I envision for myself?’. So I started a car rental business in the days before Uber. We eventually sold the cars for a profit and ploughed the money into new businesses.

The lemons just kept coming

After the car rental business, I got into distributing nappies. I operated as a wholesaler supplying small shops and kiosks in the townships with their nappy supply but I stopped operating that business due to the high risk of handling cash.

After that, it became chickens when I started a chicken farm. I didn’t know anything about those feathered little creatures, but it was a lucrative business, and I did well until it went wrong, and I lost R5m.

This was another stressful time for me. How would I react? How would this shape my dreams, future, and legacy that I was so passionate about building?

Gold on the horizon

After the chicken business went bust, I began to explore opportunities in property investment. I did an online course through Legacy Education. I received coaching from the dynamic, passionate and innovative entrepreneur Andrew Walker. Andrew is the founder and CEO of the SA Property Investor Network (Sapin) and the brainchild of the Investor of the Year Awards.

What I learned from the outset is that it’s a myth that a person needs a mass amount of capital to get into the property game. You don’t need much money to start, and there is more than one way to pluck that chicken. That is to say, there are many different ways in which you can approach property investment. The SA Property Investor Network taught me that. I also have an innate skill of identifying opportunities and partnering with other people.

From introvert to networking guru

I got involved with Andrew Walker and Sapin right at the inception of the organisation. From the outset, there would be about five to 20 people in a room. Being an introvert, I was initially quiet. I battled with networking, which is what is at the heart of Sapin. I decided to overcome this challenge and quickly digested two books on networking, again choosing to shape my future. This approach prepared me for the networking meetings that followed.

Sapin quickly began to grow. Not just as an organisation, but the people who attended the networking events began to grow. One person in particular, Carlo Marionao, had a positive impact on me, and I thought, ‘If the Italian can do it, so can I’. I engaged with Carlo and another Sapin member, Nqabs. They were purchasing small units within a building and I suggested, ‘Why not buy the whole building’? My love for Sapin grew from there. I started arriving at 5pm an hour before the actual events and left late in the evening, putting in the hard work to create my legacy through property.

Winning the Investor of the Year Award in 2019

After gaining a wealth of experience and building my network through the SA Property Investor’s Network, I decided to leave full-time employment to focus my attention on building a property business, M5 Property Addicts, with my partner in property investment, Retha van Rooyen. After establishing a solid portfolio in this sector, I decided to enter the Investor of the Year Awards in 2019.

We won the Big League’s category! This award goes to an investor who has grown in the commercial or development sector and has done property investment deals that stand out. Winning this award was a real catalyst and a morale booster in being recognised for doing something important.

You can’t do it alone. You need the right environment and good, forward-thinking people to come around you and be involved. I needed people to invest in the fund I developed; otherwise, there would be no growth. Winning the award elevated my status and built credibility and trust for others who wanted to be involved.

I went from having massive personal debt to becoming a property mogul and it wasn’t through a dodgy pyramid scheme. Within two years, I assisted 200 tenants and just over 300 students to find homes and it happened when I started making positive decisions about educating myself, being mentored, and connecting with experts who were willing to invest in others and help them develop their skills.

Now I can inspire other entrepreneurs and property enthusiasts, and I ask, what are you waiting for? Decide to shape your future. Join an organisation that will help to develop the skills you’re passionate about, like I did with Sapin. If you are currently a property investor, whether well established or just a rookie, then dare to be brilliant and enter the Investor of the Year Awards 2021. There are sponsors that are giving away amazing prizes, but you can also meet mentors and trainers that will help you turn your situation around.

Who knows, perhaps you can also turn the lemons that life has dealt you into gold.

Enter the Investor of the Year Awards 2021 here.

About Taurai Jack

Taurai Jack, property investor and founder of M5 Property Addicts

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