What We Do Background and Achievements Our History in Photos Board and Staff Canadian Partners Program Reports Ethics and Privacy
Africa Africa Regional Activities Asia Eastern Europe Latin America and the Caribbean Housing Micro-Finance - Leveraging Economic Growth Housing and HIV/AIDS Housing Rights and Governance Urban Food Security, Urban Agriculture and Housing Spaces
News Update E-bulletins Videos Archive
Employment Opportunities Technical Advisors Volunteers Internships
Gender Equality
News and Resources

Supporting Africa’s Grandmothers


News and Resources
By Nike Adebowale, Rooftops Canada Intern
In South Africa, especially in the townships, grandmother-headed households are becoming more the norm than the exception. With high HIV and AIDS rates, grandmothers are calling on their strong emotional reserves and resilience to single-handedly provide care to millions of orphaned children. HIV and AIDS are not the only reason for the increased burden faced by grandmothers. High unemployment rates, nearing 40 percent in some townships, place additional pressure on them to support their grandchildren.
The Kuyasa Fund is a housing micro-finance organization based in Cape Town. Rooftops Canada is working with Kuyasa providing technical assistance and the interns are helping Kuyasa develop and expand its microfinance program. Kuyasa is one of the few housing micro-lenders in South Africa that consistently reaches poor households, which are excluded from the formal housing finance market. Struggling to build better homes for their families, over 70 percent of Kuyasa’s clients are women and almost 50 percent are over the age of fifty. This demographic group has some of the best loan repayment rates at Kuyasa.
Ms Tenjiswa Mambumbu, one of Kuyasa’s clients, is retired and raising her grandchildren in her home.  When Tenjiswa first moved to Cape Town in the 1960s she was living in a shack, a fragile, leaking home made of tin sheets. In the 1990s Tenjiswa was determined to improve living conditions for her and her children, so she joined a women’s savings group. The women in her group saved money each month and took turns renovating their homes. Tenjiswa was last in line, and when it was her turn, the other women had no money left. 
Determined to have a better home, Tenjiswa took the group of women to Kuyasa and got a loan for her house. Because she repaid her loans promptly Tenjiswa was able to qualify for several repeat loans with Kuyasa. She now lives in a beautifully renovated home, a huge improvement on the one she used to live in.
“I am so happy for what Kuyasa has helped me do,” says Tenjiswa, telling me her inspiring story in her living room, her baby grandson nestled on her lap.