Shipping containers stacked on the dockside in the port of Mobile, Alabama, in the US. Picture: ISTOCK
Shipping containers stacked on the dockside in the port of Mobile, Alabama, in the US. Picture: ISTOCK

In this edition of the Business Day Spotlight, we look at the development of the shipping container market in SA.

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Wandile Robin Moganedi, the founder of Small Living Properties.

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Moganedi’s business specialises in shipping container conversions that are reused and turned into offices, libraries and even school sanitation or ablution units.

Converting shipping containers for residential and commercial property use has been a trend for a number of years, especially in developed countries. When shipping containers come to the end of their useful life of transporting cargo, they have traditionally been left sitting for years. Over time, people have begun to turn such structures into housing and business premises.


Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.
Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.

Moganedi begins by talking about a new smart disinfecting unit that the company has developed from converted shipping containers placed in areas of large masses such as malls, schools, sporting events and areas of public transportation. The unit works by having people walk through it and having sanitiser automatically sprayed in the process. This, Moganedi says, is much more efficient than having a single point of entry where each student in a school, for example, has their hands sprayed individually.

The company self-funded the development of the units, three of which have been donated to a school, taxi rank and shopping centre. Small Living Properties is now looking to rent such units to organisations for a fee.

The discussion moves on to the state of the shipping container market as a property alternative.

Moganedi says the business has done well since 2018 when it started, but like other enterprises took a knock when the pandemic forced lockdowns to restrict economic activity.

So far, he says containers have gained in popularity for commercial use where small business owners can set up kitchens, coffee shops, offices or other structures. In the residential sector, using containers for housing is still slow, but the business is working to change that with a bachelor apartment style prototype it set up in Soweto.

Moganedi sees opportunity for shipping containers to be converted to larger apartments and cottages.

He discusses how the disinfecting units work, shipping container trends in SA, the costs involved in converting such structures, the business model for Small Living Properties and plans for growing the business.

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 Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production.

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