When Albert van Wyk was 10, his father told him he couldn’t get the bicycle he really wanted because they could not afford it.
That was the day Van Wyk shifted from ordinary schoolboy to motivated entrepreneur – a journey that led to his becoming a millionaire at just 22.
Now 26 and the owner of three thriving businesses, he is sharing the financial lessons he learned along the way through the course “Young Millionaires”, which he developed as part of the nationally-run Young Entrepreneurs programme.
The course, which will be launched in Port Elizabeth on Saturday May 4, is specifically written for high school learners and young adults, although anyone can enrol.
While he is in the Bay, the Pretoria millionaire will also be giving talks at schools and sharing his expertise with business professionals and other entrepreneurs at the “Elevated / Professionals Networking” event on May 3.
For Van Wyk, the “Young Millionaires” course is part of a much bigger dream to help all young South Africans become financially literate and create the wealth they need to reach their dreams.
“When my dad told me we couldn’t afford that bike, my mind sparked into action … I decided: How can I find a way to get this bike?”
He started by selling Scooby Doo key-rings at his school, “a massive craze” at the time, and was soon running a mobile toy store, which included cap guns and slime.
“When the principal found out, he wasn’t too happy. But he allowed me to carry on selling outside the school.”
This progressed to cutting lawns, teaching guitar, writing speeches for people, and even renting out cars for matric farewells. And then he started buying and selling phones, laptops, bikes – and pretty much anything he could make a profit out of – along with opening a small construction business.
But his real break came just as he was about to start university. He made a deal with his father that if he worked really hard and achieved a bursary, he would invest the bursary money and his dad would pay for his studies as he intended to do anyway.
He achieved his goal and invested the bursary money – along with all the money from his other businesses – into his first property. Since then, he has bought a number of properties to rent, and is now also “buying to flip”, which means buying and fixing up rundown properties, and then selling them for a profit.
“By 23, I was financially independent. My properties were making more money than my salary [working as an industrial engineer].”
So he quit his job after just over a year – and his life took a new direction. He decided to share everything he had learned to become a millionaire with other young people.
“My parents weren’t business owners, accountants or property investors. They couldn’t teach me how to work with money and make good investments, nor could my school. I had to read books and start small businesses. I had to learn financial concepts and adopt a financial mindset. So I decided I wanted to take responsibility to help other kids learn what I have learnt.”
In 2017, Van Wyk self-published a book called “How to become a millionaire at 22”, printed 100 unedited copies and arranged a book launch, inviting five pupils from each of the four schools in his community in Pretoria’s Moot area along with other entrepreneurs, friends and family.
“I just wanted to get the book out there and make a difference.” He also gave motivational talks at the four schools.
When the media discovered what Van Wyk had done, “the whole thing blew up. I decided I needed to be bigger than my community.”
So he started visiting different schools, last year driving to 36 schools in 26 different locations.
“I realised it’s not good enough. I need to make a massive impact, I need to scale this.”
That’s when he decided to partner with Young Entrepreneurs, a national franchise which helps kids from Grade 1 to 12 develop an entrepreneurial mindset, by teaching them how to run their own small businesses and become financially-literate.
“They already have the network and reach. So I thought: Why not plug in and let’s go in the same direction. We’ll go much further.” The result was Van Wyk’s “Young Millionaires” course.
Ultimately, he would like every young person in the country to access this course.
“More than 90% of South Africans are in a poor or lower middle-class income state. If you don’t learn correct financial practices from your parents, and you don’t learn it at school or university, where do you learn it?”
- The “Young Millionaires” course costs R700 and will run on Saturday, 4 May from 8.30am to 4.30am. To enrol, contact Kiara Zevenster at 073 305 5015 or email@example.com or Ansulene Prinsloo at 083 300 6118 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The “Elevate / Professionals Networking” event at 6pm on May 3 costs R150 per person. To book, contact Jon-Paul Raper at InHighGearEvents@gmail.com or 072 449 9508.
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