Jay CabozBy Jay Caboz|November 1, 2020|5 Minutes|In Billionaire Tomorrow

Trump Dumped Me - So I Slipped Home To A Shipping Container And Salvation

Entrepreneur Deon van Deventer lost millions when he was given just 10 days to leave the United States. He said goodbye to almost 20 years in the marketing industry and went out on a limb with a pile of shipping containers.

It must be one of the worst nightmares an entrepreneur can face. You spend years building a business in a foreign country only to be told you must get out with little more than the clothes on your back.

This was the cold, sober, reality check that hit South African entrepreneur Deon van Deventer like a falling shipping container when he was given just 10 days to ship out of the United States. The problem was the land of the free refused to renew his working VISA in February 2018 the early days of Donald Trump making America great again.

“My family had to pack up what we could, and we bought a ticket back to Cape Town. We arrived back with just six suitcases. I lost millions,” said Deventer.

While this hard lesson in business could be enough to force even the most robust entrepreneur to give up; for Deventer it proved a crossroads in his life. He said goodbye to almost 20 years in the marketing industry and went out on a limb with a pile of shipping containers.

“I’ve been doing marketing since 2003. I hated what I was doing. Then I saw this YouTube video of a resort in Italy where they wanted to make a hotel, but the owner of the ground said zero impact. So, they did it with containers.”

“I said to my wife I’m going to do an experiment – I put out an advert on Facebook to see if there was any interest here in South Africa. Within a week I had 2,000 likes and I thought ‘here we go, we’ve got a market’. So, I closed up my marketing business and said this is what I’m doing now.”

Container homes are part of a global architectural trend spreading across the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In South Africa, the trend is just starting to kick-off thanks to a steep rise in building costs in an economy that has shed at 3.6 million jobs since the Covid-19 lockdown in March.

My family had to pack up what we could, and we bought a ticket back to Cape Town. We arrived back with just six suitcases. I lost millions.


- Deon van Deventer

As it turns out, shipping containers make for good shelter in these stormy times. They’re fireproof, flood-proof and cheap to maintain. What’s more, they’re plentiful. It’s estimated that there are 14 million of them empty and abandoned on the quayside.

Their rising popularity in South Africa can be put down to the housing shortage coupled with hard times. It costs about 30% less for a container than a cheap home of a similar size, Deventer claims.

You can get a metal roof over your head for R170,000 for a basic studio container home.

This puts it lower than the average price of a building a home from scratch that can cost anywhere between R6,000 and R8,000 per square meter. In some cases, basic container units can be comparable in cost to low-cost housing that costs an average R1,500 per square meter.

They can also be built off-site and shipped to their destination. A bit like Lego, rooms can be fitted together much easier and quicker than a normal build.

So Donald Trump and no VISA may have been a kick in the stomach that cost Deventer and his family millions, but at the very least shipping containers have proved solid salvation for his battered entrepreneurial spirit that he dragged home in a suitcase to Cape Town.

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