The Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Cooperatives (ZINAHCO) is the apex organisation of Zimbabwe’s housing cooperatives, representing over 150 co-operatives with over 7,200 members throughout the country. Housing cooperatives are typically formed around groups of workers from a single company or industry, or of people from the same geographic location. Cooperative members pool their resources together, ensuring that all members benefit and can improve their living conditions.
After joining CLIFF in 2011, ZINAHCO has this year begun a unique housing programme for Zimbabwe’s low-income families.
Using CLIFF funds, ZINAHCO’s housing programme provides monthly loans to housing cooperatives: groups of low-income families who typically reside in poor quality and expensive rental accommodation. Using the loans, the cooperatives gradually build houses for each of their members and, regardless of whether they have yet received a house, each member helps to make monthly repayments back to ZINAHCO. With each monthly loan, the cooperative is able to build further houses and help more families. The homes are jointly owned by the cooperative until all members have their own home, at which point they are officially handed over to the occupants.
ZINAHCO has worked closely with the CLIFF team and Rooftops Canada over the year to develop this finance and housing programme and undertook extensive consultation with cooperatives to ensure that the system would work in different areas. Through providing training in loan management and construction to the cooperatives, ZINAHCO has helped to develop the capacity of these cooperatives to ensure the sustainability of the programme.
Because of the community-led nature of the project and because ZINAHCO provides co-operatives rather than individual loans, ZINAHCO’s small team is able to manage this large programme with relatively small overheads. It is now steadily recovering these overheads through the affordable interest charged to cooperatives and it expects to fully cover its costs within two years. In the long-term, it will have a sustainable revolving fund.
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