Housing enthusiast Henry Gurajena is an academic that advocates for decent housing, which is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest challenges.

Gurajena holds a degree in Real Estate Management from the University of Zimbabwe and has published 14 journal articles advocating for the provision of sustainable housing for low income earners. 

His aim is to strategically leverage academia to address social challenges and, in this instance, to create consciousness of the need to address housing issues across communities in Zimbabwe and the region.

In Zimbabwe houses are dilapidated and due to the economic conditions in the country many people cannot afford decent, well built houses. Some of his research findings show that 84% of home owners are not comfortable living in smaller and dilapidated houses. 

To address the challenge Henry set up Solinfra Zimbabwe, a company that uses a financial modelling technique that enables homeowners, funding partners and regulators to partner to extend and renovate houses in high density suburbs in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe. 

The business model involves recruiting low income earners to contribute to a special fund where resources are pooled and the funds used for its beneficiaries to extend or refurbish their dilapidated houses. To complement this business venture, Henry has also established a building materials manufacturing site to supply affordable construction materials for the venture.

Through his work, more people are living in decent houses and some are repaying the service over time in instalments – economies of scale reduce service costs. He says even with Zimbabwe’s economic challenges, he is able to keep doing this work, as his satisfaction comes from seeing the positive transformation and impact these projects have on the lives and livelihoods of previously hopeless people, leaving them with much hope that they can too enjoy the goodness of their land and community. 

His vision for the next five years is to expand his business model to other provinces in Zimbabwe. He says he would love to see this model adopted across the continent and globally to address housing challenges that many countries continue to face. His target for 2024 is to refurbish and extend at least 1 500 homes. 

Henry’s long-term goal is to start operations in five other countries in the sub-Saharan region.  He is of the view that youth must actively take up the call and start addressing the challenges faced in their countries. He shared that he is delighted to see other young Africans leading in the fields of politics, economics, energy, technologies, agriculture, mining and real estate.