Ayanda Masengemi brings his passion for community to the Serenity Hills team

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When his family relocated from Pietermaritzburg to the KZN Mid-South Coast in the middle of his high school career, Ayanda Masengemi didn’t realise the profound impact this move would have on his future trajectory. True to his nature, Ayanda continued to work hard and excel, finishing as one of the top students in his class at Gamalakhe Commercial High School in 2011.

Working towards his dream job

“I was fortunate to earn a full scholarship which allowed me to study BComm Accounting, after which I did my Honours at Unisa in 2016,” recalled Ayanda, who has embraced his latest role as Associate Director at Serenity Hills – a newly launched eco-estate on the KZN Mid-South Coast. “I started working as a Project and Sales Manager at RSW Development [parent company of the Sweetdale NPO], before coming on board as Associate Director for Serenity Hills in 2022.”

The organisation was started by Swiss entrepreneurs Roland and Sibylle Wenger, alongside their children Sam and Connie after they relocated to the KZN Mid-South Coast in 2008. The family was focused on creating sustainable initiatives that actively upskill and empower the local communities.

This can be seen in the Sweetdale Skills Centre where youngsters, who haven’t been placed in tertiary education, are upskilled. Those who haven’t been employed are then offered entrepreneurial assistance and work placements, with equipment supplied where necessary.

The Sweetbike Community Project, too, sources bikes from overseas which are then refurbished and donated to schoolchildren living far from their local high schools. This cuts down their travel to and from school, with children notably more attentive in class and their improved marks the successful result. However, it was the Sweetdale Adventure Camp for schoolchildren that had a personal impact on Ayanda.

“It was in June 2019, I remember the camp was short-staffed and needed assistance so I just happened to step in to help,” said Ayanda. “The uMzinyathi District Department of Education was there from Dundee for a special programme and I met an English teacher, Sphiwosethu. Well, we are now married with a beautiful daughter!”

As a Zulu himself, with Sphiwosethu a Sotho, the couple held two traditional weddings in Newcastle and Pietermaritzburg. They celebrated their nuptials with a Christian wedding at Drakensberg in November this year.

The secret to the Serenity Hills success story

Ayanda is an example of the community-driven approach of these eco-estate developers who draw on local talent to create a solid and lasting foundation. He forms part of a young, innovative managerial department that constantly seeks new ideas, taking an innovative approach often not seen in South African developments.

The 30-year-old is tasked with overseeing all projects at Serenity Hills, ensuring municipal compliance, and successful completion within a stipulated timeframe. Asked what he feels sets this development apart from others in the country, Ayanda says it is the founders’ solutions-driven and family-centric approach.

“There is a deep love for Africa while bringing in that unique Swiss touch,” he explained. “The community philosophy of all their projects can be seen in the development, through skills transfer and sourcing local suppliers for the development. We are even sourcing furniture from a Gamalakhe carpenter who went through the Sweetdale Skills Centre.”

Ayanda says, where a problem is identified, a solution is presented. There will be 24-hour, next-generation security with thermal cameras; solar-ready homes; fibre optic connectivity; and fresh meal deliveries. This allows residents to access the urban conveniences of big cities, while enjoying the relaxed, nature-based lifestyle for which the Mid-KZN South Coast is renowned.

“All basic needs are accommodated, with developers able to offer community living with privacy, catering to everyone from young families to retirees,” continued Ayanda. “The home designs maximise the natural environment, with more than 70 hectares of coastal forest remaining conservation area. Plus, this is one of the few pet-friendly estates!”

The R800m Serenity Hills development has already sold 50% of units in Phase 1, which was launched in the second half of 2022. The plots have been transferred, and construction has started, with the first residents set to move in 2024. Exciting new developments include the construction of the exclusive Clubhouse, as well as the innovative Forest Pods built into the flow of the natural landscape, with ocean views, and coastal forest surrounds.

To find out more and book a viewing at Serenity Hills, visit www.serenityhills.co.za. For regular updates, follow @serenityhillsecoestate on Facebook and Instagram.