News Women's Month 2021

Faith Mangope: from poverty to property investor

Faith Mangope.
Faith Mangope.

Accomplished broadcaster, business owner, and entrepreneur, Faith Mangope, learnt from a young age that the only way to be more, and to do more, is by refusing to accept defeat.

She is also unapologetically passionate about property investment which she believes restores dignity and she encourages other women to do the same.

Patriarchy has really done a number on women” she says. “We have been taught that we are only good when we are next to a man. Sure, a lot of women are buying apartments but how many aspire to own more?” she asks.

Women need to take calculated risks and be deliberate about what they desire, especially when it comes to property investment. We must refuse to take no for an answer and to challenge the status quo. Say “I hear your ‘no’, but I do not accept it””.

It is this determination that has seen Faith pay off her family’s bond and acquire an apartment and two houses – all in less than ten years. The thirty-four-year-old currently has her eye on turning commercial spaces into low-cost housing opportunities.

There is something about property that gives people dignity. If we can give people the dignity of owning their own home, or renting, then we are restoring our faith in humanity.”

Faith’s unwavering refusal to accept rejection stems from a childhood tainted by disappointment and empty promises. At a time when her parents were unemployed, her stepfather – whom she describes as a dreamer – would spend weekends visiting show houses in Johannesburg’s Northcliff and Sandton areas. Her family owned their home but a move to one of these high-end properties would have been their dream come true. Every week, her stepfather would promise that the family would be moving into one of the houses they had visited. This never happened and each week, Faith and her siblings were left disillusioned.  

Faith says the experience, while devastating at the time, exposed her to various properties and suburbs, as well as the possibility that she could desire more. So, when her stepfather walked out on the family years later, she vowed to fulfil the home-buying dream he had ignited with his empty promises while she was in high school. “My love for property came from trauma. I am just fortunate that it has turned into a success story.” 

Tasked with providing for her three siblings and her mother, who was struggling to deal with the collapse of her marriage, Faith quickly paid off the family’s home bond before focusing on her aspiration of putting in an offer on a home of her own. She was only 26 years old at the time, and the family’s sole breadwinner. “After only ever being able to go in and out of houses, I wanted to know what it felt like to sign an Offer to Purchase.” Her first buying experience was daunting, as she had to familiarise herself with the technicalities of applying for finance. But she says the challenges were eclipsed by the euphoria she experienced when the bank called to approve the bond for her a three-bedroom apartment in Greenstone Ridge. 

Buoyed by her first investment, Faith decided to buy a second property. This time, the banks were sceptical about whether a young and single woman would be able to afford a second bond, despite research from BetterBond and TPN which shows that the most active investor in South Africa is female and in her late twenties to mid-thirties. After a few rejections, she was advised by a male friend to “think like a man, not a woman” and to take ownership of her property journey. 

So, she changed tack, saying to her private banker: “I want a 100% bond and I want you to help me get it.” Faith says she now applies this iron-willed approach to all aspects of her life, and she relishes telling those involved in her property-buying journey: “Tell me how we are going to win”. This desire to succeed against all odds, and make a difference, also motivated her to open the Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute to empower the youth, and especially girls, within the working environment. 

She bought her third investment property – a five-bedroom, six-bathroom home – during Level 5 lockdown last year and Faith admits that her friends are bemused by her investment goals, with one referring to her as “Pablo” because of her ambition. “But they know my journey and the poverty I have experienced. I have gone from being the girl who had to borrow R40 in high school to buy electricity for her family, to the woman who owns a five-bedroom home with six bathrooms.”

Property has allowed Faith to turn her childhood trauma into a springboard for success, and she wants to encourage others to follow suit.

Do not tell me that someone living in a shack is the best that they can be. By making property more accessible, and encouraging women to own their buying journey, it will be possible to tap into the purchasing power of ordinary South Africans. Not only is this good for the economy, but it will restore people’s dignity” she says.

With her trademark confidence, Faith throws down the gauntlet to aspirant property buyers, especially women looking to make their mark as property investors: “Challenge the status quo and don’t accept no for an answer. Never apologise for wanting to be the best version of yourself.”