You have dreams. Sylvia Milosevic has knowledge. Put them together and you, like her, can gain financial freedom.
When Sylvia Milosevic was 17 years old, trying to fall asleep on an empty stomach, she could not possibly imagine that she would one day become the author of a book teaching the secrets of making – and maintaining – wealth. But that’s exactly what the recently published Winning the Property Game does.
“I didn’t grow up poor,” Sylvia says, adding that her Ga-Rankuwa childhood as one of five children was a happy one. “My mom was a homemaker. We were supported by my dad, who derived a great deal of pride from his job in the motor industry.” But then, in 1999, he became a victim of industry-wide job cuts – and Sylvia’s nightmare began.
Overnight, her world changed. “It wasn’t just that our middle class existence – complete with holidays to Durban – felt like it was gone forever. I had to watch as my role model dissolved into depression and alcoholism. I remember sitting with him one day as he broke down, telling us that he was sorry he had failed at the one thing he was supposed to do: Take care of us.”
This was the moment when Sylvia decided that she would never rely on a job. Instead, she would look to her own talents and resources to make money; she would be dependent on no one and nothing but herself. As heartbreaking as this time was, there were also glimmers of inspiration. Sylvia recalls her mother stepping in to take on the role of family breadwinner … baking vetkoek, selling cold drinks and generally working with what she had to make money. Sylvia describes her as unstoppable. “Her transformation from housewife to superhero showed us that we don’t have to look far for solutions to our problems – often, we find that they are inside us all along.”
Sylvia took this spirit of independence and determination with her when she applied for her first job at Montecasino. Working as a croupier, she still dreamed of the corner office she wanted to own in the heart of Sandton. She simply wasn’t sure how she would get it.
Then, for her twenty-first birthday, her parents gifted her with a copy of Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. She read it in three days, turning the last page with the conviction that her future lay in property investment.
The timing couldn’t have been better. Sylvia had recently accepted an offer to work on cruise ships, which meant that she would not be able to complete the degree in communication and economics she was working towards. However, there was nothing stopping her from investing in property while travelling. She’d simply hire a rental manager to look after her interests.
In retrospect, this choice was a poor one. When Sylvia returned to South Africa at the age of 30, she found that her manager had absconded with her funds, leaving behind tenants who exploited her vulnerability and refused to leave the property. “I had worked so hard to purchase my properties. When my friends had gone shopping, I had scrimped and saved,” she laments. To make matters worse, as a foreigner, her new husband was unable to gain employment in South Africa. Sylvia considered asking Montecasino for her old job, but her heart was set on property. “And, more than anything, I didn’t want to admit that I had failed. However, there’s a saying – when the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
That’s exactly what happened. Sylvia saw an ad for a seminar about investing in property, and attending opened her eyes to the many mistakes she had made. She came up with the R250 000 required to continue training in the UK, and returned ready to become a mogul.
Sylvia’s new learnings and support structure helped her gain the financial freedom she had dreamed of, and determined to help others do the same, she established her company, Riches and Beyond, to educate people about how to create a property portfolio.
Keen to reach even more people, she leapt at the opportunity to host a TV show, The Property Game, and was delighted that no fewer than 1.8 million viewers took in her message. But, determined to help even more potential investors, she started writing a book – and was delighted when, in August 2022, she was approached by a publisher who – not knowing that she was already in the process of penning her guide to building wealth – offered her a publishing opportunity.
Sylvia is excited to see the change the book brings to people’s lives, but she’s still driven to achieve more. Riches and Beyond has recently received accreditation and is working with the Services SETA to reach a larger audience. The company is also developing a course targeting property entrepreneurs, and next on her list is to reach out to youth so that people might start to build their wealth from a young age.
“We all know that poverty is rife in South Africa. What started out as a vision has become my purpose: I want to use all I know about creating money to change people’s lives. With this knowledge out there, there is no reason why another South African child should fall asleep hungry.”
Sylvia’s tips for success
- Success isn’t just about talent or intelligence. It’s about hard work, persistence and a willingness to learn from failures. I believe every person has the potential to achieve great things in life, but it’s up to them to put in the effort and dedication to make it happen.
- It’s important to surround yourself with positive influences and mentors who can guide and support your journey. No one can achieve success alone, and it’s crucial to build a network of people who share your goals and can offer you advice and encouragement when you need it.
- Stay true to your values and principles, even in the face of challenges or temptations. No success is worth compromising your integrity. Staying true to yourself is the key to long-term happiness and fulfilment.
Text: Lisa Witepski