Social Impact Investing Breathes New Life into the S.A Gap Housing Market

»» In mid-2000, South African banking and development expert, Soula Proxenos, came up with a plan. She created a property fund that partners with South African building developers to create affordable housing and rental stock in the low income, gap housing sector . As the country moved into its new democracy,the focus was understandably placed on the huge shortage of housing for the poorest of the poor. But what about those who fall beyond this sector, and make up 30% of the population? They too want an opportunity to live a better life, in homes they can afford to own or rent, in well-run urban apartment blocks or neat serviced suburbs.

With global investors like CITI, Proxenos’s $230 million South African Workforce Housing Fund has so far developed over 25 000 urban and suburban homes and apartments and is looking to expand the model into the rest of Africa. ‘For us social impact investing is about creating housing stock for the low-income market as well as healthy financial returns for our investors’, says Proxenos, ‘It’s a wide-open, very attractive market for all concerned’ . She and her team at International Housing Solutions are determined to provide great returns to their investors and, in the process, change lives.