Entrepreneur Skhulile Ndlovu left his comfortable corporate jobs working for the world’s largest banks to start a real estate business to help first time buyers while also transforming the multi-billion rand sector.
Ndlovu, 27, who hails from Pietermaritzburg, is the founder of boutique real estate agency Encore Real Estate which he established in 2017.
The company manages, markets and sells properties at the major South African cities of Johannesburg and Durban.
“We are mostly into residential and commercial properties. We do sales, rentals, property management and property consulting,” says Ndlovu, who holds a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
“I wanted to service mostly first time buyers and young professionals looking for office space and people with limited knowledge about property.”
Ndlovu says his decision to venture into the property business sector was a well calculated move.
From 2011 to 2015 he joined one of the globe’s largest banks, HSBC Bank, starting in global transaction banking with a focus on trade finance. He later progressed to global market operations at the same financial institution.
Ndlovu says during his time at university he was part of an international student organisation, sponsored by HSBC Bank, focussing on sustainable community projects.
“We had an opportunity to go overseas to Malaysia and Singapore. Upon my return I joined HSBC Bank. They put me on accelerated development programme to equip people with leadership skills,” he says.
“I had to do a management development programme with Milpark Business School as part of accelerated development programme. Those guys invested in me, it’s so unfortunate that I had to leave.”
Ndlovu, who also holds a postgraduate degree in maritime law and economics from UKZN, subsequently joined Switzerland’s largest Swiss investment bank UBS, where he worked in the supporting desk for traders.
“I was there for one year, six months before leaving my corporate job for the property sector,” he says.
He had an arrangement with a global real estate agency to service its clients in the affluent suburb of Sandton, helping with property sales transactions.
However, after five months into his new job Ndlovu realised he needed to start his own real estate company.
“I wanted to focus a lot on young young professionals looking to buy their first properties and entrepreneurs looking for rent space. I felt they were neglected in Sandton because it’s expensive there.”
He equipped himself with a qualification in property investment and practice programme from Wits University in order to navigate his new terrain.
“With the Wits qualification I’m more than equipped to service the industry and fulfil my clients’ property investment aspirations.”
Funnily, Ndlovu says it’s actually Top Billing, an entertainment and lifestyle television programme, that motivated him to venture into property.
“I used to be so fascinated by the property features on Top Billing. They made me to have a passion for property,” says the businessman, who was named as one of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers last year.
Ndlovu, a member of the young professionals committee of the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals, made the list of 100 of Africa’s Brightest Young Minds.
He says his goal is to move to the niche property development and management of commercial properties. “That’s where the money is. Ultimately, I want to a have listed property fund, and to be listed we are looking at a 10 year period.”
He says the property market in South Africa is a multi-billion rand industry, but stresses the challenge remains transformation.
“People need to be educated about the opportunities that exist in this industry and how they can get involved.”
Ndlovu says he is inspired by property mogul and Billion Group founder Sisa Ngebulana, a self-made multi-billionaire.
“He’s my role model and source of inspiration. When you see guys like him, you get the feeling that it’s possible and that you too can actually do it.”