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
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 www.sasix.co.za 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 Carol
Tappenden at Greater Good South Africa:
t. +27 (0)21 794-0580 f. +27 (0)21 794-2239