THE story of property development business mogul Kenneth Sharpe starts way back as a young boy who dreamt of being a surgeon and then a fighter pilot. Growing up with a father who was into mining, the young shy boy got to be moved around towns and homes and at some point, living in thatched houses.
Born in Zimbabwe, the father of one grew up in Harare, Bulawayo, Shamva and even moved to South Africa for a while before moving back to Zimbabwe.
“I remember the first house that we had was basically a mud hut where mother cooked dinner on wood fire in middle of room. We moved towns and homes a lot,” Sharpe recalled.
As he moved from place to place and around countries as a young man, Sharpe followed his heart to get the love of his life from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) before returning Zimbabwe.
“Getting married young at age of 20 made me independent. Coming from humble beginnings, I had an early desire to provide for my wife to be and future family in the best way possible. I saw making money and starting my own business as best way to achieve this,” Sharpe said.
For him, venturing into entrepreneurship was more of a necessity than anything else.
“Having parents who got divorced and didn’t do much for me, I wanted to be different and break the generational chain promising myself to make sure I did more for my children than my parents had done for me as well as being exposed to challenging circumstances early in life I wanted to do better,” Sharpe told The Entrepreneurial Magazine.
“I started in food imports distribution in 1991 and then West Beverage manufacturing and bottling in 1998. Had trading in Ukraine and Southern Africa before starting West Group in 2005 that included Inter Crop Agri Inputs, IT, Oils, Packing and Property.
“Over the years I have been involved in over 100 businesses and owned more than 50 companies and 20 partnerships. I started in food distribution and manufacturing local beverages like Spring Valley mineral water and African Twist Soft Drinks; we were first in Zimbabwe with PET in 1999.”
However, Sharpe sold many of the companies and is now focused on real estate development and property. He pointed out that key entrepreneurial lessons that came from those ventures are that focus is required and sometimes less is more while tenacity, determination, hard work and vision are an integral part of the success equation.
“What inspired the WestProp business idea is that I had already achieved my target of 5 properties in 5 countries and was buying up old houses fixing them up, selling and renting them out and then realized one day the trading business would only take me so far. However, I wanted something bigger and lasting so we went looking for land to buy with my partner from Ukraine,” he said.
“We then bought an existing development company called Houses for Africa and improved their management, business systems and profit margin as well as partnered with the City of Harare in a Public Private Partnership (PPP). “The PPP was excruciatingly difficult for the first 10-12years as there was major internal interests that crossed the political divide and I have learned that private capital and government mentality are not conducive to effective and efficient businesses. I found that people base their perception on what the press portrays and not what is factual and real.”
West Properties offer luxury, exceptional and affordable properties in incredible World Class developments that are modern and classy at competitive prices that are virtually attainable to most middle-income individuals in Zimbabwe. Their Projects include Pokugara , Millenium Heights , Mall Of Zimbabwe , Mbudzi Market, Gunhill Rise and Pomona City and Homelands 263.
Through their developments, they have brought luxury, excellence and hope. The Company believes that property development can be done using modern global standards and that affordable home ownership is a dream that can be a reality for many whilst creating employment and investment that eradicates poverty.
“I think the future of West Properties is it’s incredible vision and the amazing team that’s been assembled to make that our mission a reality. Zimbabwe is currently a great investment opportunity, especially in Real Estate and West Properties is a future proof, multi-generational business that shall continue to prosper for generations to come,” the business mogul said.
“On a social level, with our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program to give away 10% of profit to helping disadvantaged and less privileged orphans, children and woman, we have impacted different communities with our philanthropic efforts and we look forward to doing even more work in our communities.
“My vision now is to consolidate our property assets into the most prominent real estate development company in Zimbabwe with high-quality prestigious properties making an impact not only in the Harare skyline but also to make a difference in the overall social-economic growth of the country. My heart is to be able to bring investment and provide jobs to Zimbabweans.”
Commenting on diversification, Sharpe said entrepreneurship itself is a challenging and difficult thing without diversification coming into the mix therefore staying focused and singular is more powerful than diversifying.
He added that if one however has developed the vision, discipline, work ethic and skillset, then they can diversity by all means.
“If there’s anything that Covid and technology have taught us it’s that we must always be ready to innovate and adapt to an ever-changing world,” Sharpe said.
“Also 3 nuggets to young people starting out would be to keep trying and iterating until you find the sweet spot then, stick to it and focus on execution with cash flow as King, profit is sanity and turnover is vanity, and to persevere to the end and never give up until the job is done and results seen,” Sharpe advised.
“People management is key to scaling and significant growth. Take measured risk and be prepared to fail. Nothing beats old fashioned honest hard work and with God, nothing shall be impossible.”