Corporate Social Investment and Housing Microfinance

Corporate Social Investment and Housing Microfinance

Private Property South Africa
Julia Hinton

Housing is a basic human right

Violet Mbuqe is an energetic 73-year old woman who lives in Town II in Khayelitsha in

the Western Cape with her granddaughter and great-grandchild. They have built

one of the most beautiful homes in the area. Violet has not always lived in such

a pleasant house, and it took many years for her to achieve home ownership.

Violet used to live in a shack in her sister's back yard in Nyanga East. "You

will never be happy if you stay in the backyard of someone's house," Violet

explained. She moved to the backyard shack of a relative in Guguletu, then to a

shack in Greenpoint, until eventually she received a government subsidy to build

her own house.

Because the subsidy only covered half the construction costs, Violet applied to

the Kuyasa Fund for a loan of R2000 to complete the building. She later received

a second loan to plaster the house and add a ceiling, and continues to make

improvements. "I feel comfortable because I'm not renting from anyone, I'm just

paying for services," Violet explained. She is proud that she finally has her

own home and can leave it for future generations of her family to enjoy.

The Kuyasa Fund is a Cape Town based non-profit organisation which uses

microfinance to improve housing conditions for poor people - by supporting

community groups to save towards housing and by granting loans to individuals

qualifying for the state housing subsidy. Kuyasa believes that the poor are

credit-worthy, and that they can mobilise savings to build financial and social

capital. The Kuyasa Fund has an impressive repayment rate in excess of 90% to

demonstrate this.

Very few appropriate sources of housing finance are available to low-income

households. Kuyasa provides microfinance to those with secure occupational

rights who are excluded from formal finance, in the belief that improving the

quality of housing adds essential social value and begins to build wealth.

Kuyasa's clients, who earn under R3500 a month or are informally employed, are

eligible for loans of up to R10 000 for use in improving their housing


Kuyasa is one of the organisations whose development projects are listed on the

South African Social Investment Exchange (SASIX), run by GreaterGood South

Africa. According to GreaterGood SA MD Carol Tappenden, SASIX is "an online

investment exchange, akin to a stock exchange, where individual and corporate

social investors can identify opportunities for making investments for a 'social


"At the social investor can find specific projects that have

been researched and evaluated so as to gauge the potential of the project to

effect actual life changes." GreaterGood SA provides a range of professional,

not-for-profit social investment services to the South African corporate sector.

"We recognise that there are ever increasing demands on business to demonstrate

good citizenship through substantial and meaningful investments in

socio-economic development," says Tappenden.

"We help companies not only to get the tax benefit of making donations, but also

to make the best social investment decisions possible, so that CSI budgets

actually yield returns in terms of lives really changed for the better."

Access to decent housing is a key area for Corporate Social Investment, and an

important human right. According to a report from the South African Human Rights

Commission (SAHRC), approximately 2.2 million households in South Africa are

still not adequately housed.

The SAHRC believes that having a house is "fundamental for human dignity, and

physical and mental health, which is crucial for socio-economic development. It

satisfies the basic human need for shelter and provides a place for carrying out

socio-economic activities. A house is the main yardstick of economic development

and prosperity of individuals; the main asset and mortgage debt of the


To find out more about SASIX and GreaterGood SA's CSI services, contact / /


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