Buy-a-Brick amasses over N$3 million to build homes

Posted: 22 Jun 2018

Bidvest Namibia partnered up with MTC and Walvis Bay Salt Refiners in support of Standard Bank’s Buy-a-Brick initiative. The combined donation of the three companies generated close to N$900,000. In the last eight months the initiative had raised N$3.727 million, which has been handed over to the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) for affordable housing projects.

Standard Bank’s Buy-a-Brick initiative has raised N$3.727 million in the last eight months, which has been handed over to the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) whose aim is to build affordable housing for low income earners. The bank’s Chief Executive, Vetumbuavi Mungunda, handed over the funds to the SDFN on Friday, 15 June at the Bank’s Swakopmund branch, following an excursion earlier that day which saw various captains of industries visit the recipients of these donations at their shacks in the towns’ DRC informal settle.

The handover was attended by the Deputy Minister of Urban and Rural Development Honourable Derek Klazen, Councillor Juuso Kambueshe (who was standing in for Governor the Erongo Region Cleophas Mutjavikua), MTC’s Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer Tim Ekandjo, Corporate Public Relations and Media Liaison of Bidvest Namibia Andrea Calitz and Walvisbay Salt Refiners’ Business Development Director Gregory Swartz, as well as the Federation leadership, its members and Blue Bankers.

MTC gave an astounding sponsorship of N$800 000 to the initiative; Bidvest Namibia contributed an impressive N$50 000 with a commitment to partner with the initiative for the next five years and Walvisbay Salt Refiners contributed an equally inspiring N$40 000. Standard Bank employees through fundraising efforts in the community raised N$900 000, while the remaining N$2 million was contributed from the Bank’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) fund.

Commending the government, the corporates and ordinary Namibians who have selflessly given to the initiative, Mungunda stated that he is yet to see an initiative which has seen the full support of all key stakeholders such as housing and the various initiatives by the SDFN. “As an organization we have a purpose or reason why we exist that goes along the line of Namibia is our home; we drive her growth but within that there is a lot of strong sentiment relying that word (the word home) …I think as a bank we have been on a journey and I believe that we are getting to a point where we own and start to feel that Namibia is a home. We need to engage the challenges that are at home,” he said.

Reiterating the strong sentiment behind the word home, calling it “Eumbo” or “Onganda”, the CE said that no-one runs away from their home when there are issues or challenges, they face them head on, which is the drive behind the Buy-a-Brick initiative; facing the housing shortage head-on. Mungunda said the Bank put a challenge to itself about leaving a tangible legacy behind for future generations a few years ago. The general consensus that came from various engagements with communities is that housing is a challenge that needed to be addressed immediately. “This (the Buy-a-Brick initiative) is really a manifestation of our belief of why we exist as an organization in our home of Namibia, which is to try and help deal with the biggest challenges,” he stressed.

Beyond simply raising funds to build homes, Mungunda explained that the initiative has two other key objectives; creating awareness about the acute shortage of housing in Namibia and the efforts of the many various players in the country to try and address this, particularly the SDFN and importantly to help mobilize resources and research as well as coordinate efforts between the private sector and government to relook policy interventions that will help with the accelerated construction of houses for low or no income households. Another part of that objective was also how to lower the cost of building a house and what other building methods can be employed.

He pointed out that the only materials currently used or known are bricks, however he stressed that it is imperative to research whether there could be different, more cost effective materials that could be used to also be able to provide adequate housing. These alternative materials would also in turn contribute to shortening the construction period which currently stands at 6 months but could be brought down to two months or two weeks. “I’m pleased to say that since the birth of Buy-a-Brick three years ago, I believe there has been a lot more contributions and interest in the Shack Dwellers Federation, including from government,” he said.

Mungunda also commended his Bank’s staff for taking full ownership of the initiative, observing that every business unit and structure in the bank had its own ongoing fundraising campaign for the Buy-a-Brick initiative. He reiterated his gratitude towards the community who contributed to the staffs’ fundraising efforts, noting that without them the staff would not have been able to raise the amount they did because it came from them (the public).

During the Buy-a-Brick initiatives’ first year, the Bank handed over a donation of N$1.4 million which was used to build 44 homes in Rehoboth; last year with a handover of N$2 million, 55 houses are being built between Ohambo ya Nehale in Havana in Windhoek, Berseba and Otjinene. With the N$3.7 million, 100 are expected to be built between Otjiwarongo, Mariental, Kalkfeld and Okongo, to name a few. Deputy Minister Klazen commended the Bank for the initiative, stating that it was well aligned to Government’s Mass Housing Programme as well as the land and housing provision under the social progression pillar of the Harambee Prosperity Plan as set forward by President Hage Geingob.

“Standard Bank has heed the call for decent housing for all Namibians through their flagship initiative and have become a shining example that alleviating the housing shortage is possible. The provision of housing in our country cannot be left to Government alone as Government will not be in a position to raise and provide all the resources that are required for such programmes…I would therefore also like to thank MTC, Bidvest and Walvisbay Salt Refiners for partnering with the Buy-a-Brick initiative. I would also be remiss if I also didn’t thank every individual who also gave their contributions from their personal capacity,” he stressed

Additionally, he urged other corporate entities and institutions from the private sector to emulate this shining example as the current housing challenge is a collective responsibility and cannot be left to Government alone. He stressed that as Namibians smart partnerships like these are needed to alleviate poverty, addressing the housing shortage and promoting employment in order for our nation to reach economic prosperity.

Namibia is currently facing a housing backlog of 100 000 and this number is growing by 3 700 every year. With a higher target set by Mungunda for the fourth Buy-a-Brick initiative, fundraising efforts continue vigorously with the call for more corporates companies and private individuals being called to join in the efforts to take this profound initiative to greater heights.

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