The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has awarded DigsConnect, a South African student housing marketplace, a ZAR3 million (US$200,000) grant to help university students from low-income backgrounds find safe and affordable accommodation.
The DigsConnect platform, which was launched in 2018, allows landlords, estate agents, and property managers to post their property listings, with students searching and filtering through these listings to find accommodation that suits their needs, as well as find other students to live with.
The startup has raised ZAR5 million (US$330,000) in funding this year, after raising ZAR12 million (US$830,000) in March 2019. An angel investor invested ZAR2 million (US$130,000), and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation invested ZAR3 million (US$200,000).
As a result of this partnership, DigsConnect is launching #1000digs, a specialized program to assist NSFAS and bursary-funded students in South Africa who are looking for accommodation. This assistance includes on-the-ground support from their team as well as a brand-new dedicated legal support line for these students, many of whom will be signing their first legal agreement when they sign their lease.
The Dell Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of children around the world who are living in urban poverty. The foundation, which is located in Austin, Texas, and has offices in New Delhi, India, and Johannesburg, South Africa, funds programmes to promote high-quality public education and increase the economic stability of low-income families.
“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.