Creating affordable rental housing that’s gender-smart too

At Divercity, we are honoured to have qualified for the 2X Challenge. This is a powerful endorsement that our well-located, affordable rental housing is helping to create more economic opportunities for women. We are eligible for the 2X Challenge because over 50% of our primary tenants are female.

What is the 2x Challenge?

It is a commitment by the world’s development finance institutions (DFIs) to collectively put more capital into private sector investments that provide women in developing country markets with improved access to leadership opportunities, quality employment, finance, enterprise support and products and services that enhance economic participation and access.

2X refers to the multiplier effect of investing in women. The challenge will demonstrate that innovative financing catalyses capital to advance gender equality.

It is an initiative set up by G7 development finance institutions in 2018 to support women’s economic empowerment through gender-smart investing.

Why apply a gender lens to investing?

Firstly, investing in women is good business. Workforces which include women at all levels correlate with those reporting better returns, according to Morgan Stanley.

Increasingly, women are also playing an essential role as consumers. The female economy is the world’s largest emerging market – more than twice the size of China and India combined. It is estimated that by 2028 female consumers will control a whopping $15 trillion of global consumer spending or there about.

Empowering women through our simple business of renting apartments to people

At Divercity, we build neighbourhoods that are more diverse and socially equitable. They provide low and middle-income households with safe, inclusive and affordable housing options in amenity-rich inner-city areas. We position our residents near economic opportunities and essential services.

While our model and marketing don’t actively target women as customers, nor do we explicitly favour women customers on a gender criterion, we attract a disproportionately high number of women in our buildings compared to the national average of female tenants.

In our urban residential portfolio, women hold the key.

Why female tenants want to stay with Divercity

Looking at the physical form of South African cities, living in an inner-city area supports significant cost and time savings for tenants thanks to better access to services such as schools, healthcare facilities, public transport networks and employment hubs.

Gender-based violence is also a widespread issue in South Africa, and Divercity’s apartments offer increased security, supporting safer living environments for women.

Divercity benefits from doing business with women

The social and economic benefits for women in a Divercity neighbourhood mean that they are more likely to have longer tenancies, which, in turn, brings business benefits for Divercity.

From a purely commercial point of view, it has become apparent to us that women are better customers in the long run and on average.

Together, these factors have affected our strategic priorities.

Our experience, motivation and ambitions for strengthening inclusivity across our business

We are proud that more than half of our primary tenants are female, and are committed to creating the most women-friendly living environments in South African cities.

The Divercity team is constantly thinking about how we can be better for the female stakeholders in our business and improve our product offering for women. This approach also affects how Divercity develops properties. Our design teams are tasked with thinking about how to make the space more appealing for women.

Designing with women in mind

When undertaking new developments, we are committed to inclusive and safe design, especially for female tenants. We work with our architects to find ways to make them better for women and children, including childcare facilities, environmental safety features and high security standards.

At our latest mixed-use development, Barlow Park, which is currently under construction in a premium location at the gateway to Sandton Central, some of the design interventions that create inclusivity include:

  • A site layout and landscaping that promote clear lines of sight at ground level, creating active spaces
  • Vibrant public areas that invite tenants down to street level and facilitate organic community safety
  • Active facades with a high count of balconies, further encouraging a sense of tenant engagement in public spaces
  • Excellent lighting throughout the precinct
  • Clear signage in public spaces
  • Visible security, including on-foot patrols and actively monitored cameras
  • Safe site and building access points with clear rules for tenants and visitors
  • A community hall and workshop space that can be used by tenants for various events, with a focus on women-led events
  • Facilities for children and families, including formal education at a creche and school and safe play areas
  • An outdoor market space for weekend markets, with a focus on women traders
  • Exercise facilities, including a walking and running track around the precinct and outdoor fields on Innesfree Park
  • Direct access to public and shared transport, including a Rea Vaya (BRT) bus link on Katherine Street
  • A gender-balanced staffing mix amongst the property and facilities management teams on site


Committed to inclusive impact

Advancing gender outcomes is important, and we consider our impacts through a gender lens to find ways to make an even greater positive impact.

Inclusivity and gender are firmly on the agenda of our Impact Committee, a sub-committee of our Board of Directors. This is a structured place where impact matters and was formed after the investment of the CDC Group (now British International Investment or BII). It is a forum with massive potential for us to achieve much more in this regard in the future. Watch this space!