South African student housing marketplace DigsConnect has secured a ZAR3 million (US$200,000) grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to help university students from low-income backgrounds secure safe and affordable accommodation.
Launched in 2018, the DigsConnect platform allows landlords, estate agents and property managers to post their property listings, with students then searching and filtering through these listings to find accommodation that suits their needs, and also find other students to live with.
The startup, which raised ZAR12 million (then US$830,000) in March 2019, has taken in ZAR5 million (US$330,000) in capital this year. ZAR2 million (US$130,000) came from an angel investor, while the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has provided a ZAR3 million (US$200,000) grant.
As a result of this partnership, DigsConnect is rolling out an initiative called #1000digs, a specialised programme to assist NSFAS and bursary-funded students in South Africa looking for accommodation. This assistance includes hands-on support from their team and a brand-new dedicated legal support line for these students, many of whom, upon signing their lease, will be entering into their first legal agreement.
The Dell Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty across the world. Headquartered in Austin, United States, with offices in New Delhi, India, and South Africa, the foundation funds programmes that foster high-quality public education and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty.
“Safe and affordable accommodations are essential to a successful university experience. However, the inability to find appropriate housing creates additional barriers for students who are already managing new uncertainties in university life. The partnership with DigsConnect further allows students to be integrated into supportive communities while away from home, creating opportunity for them to focus on and succeed in their studies,” said Dr Thashlin Govender, programme director for the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.