Answer to a question from a reader

What can my mother do to get funding for the old age community centre she has started on the municipal plot where she lives?

The short answer

She could ask the municipality if they could endorse the project and give her official approval for it.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

What can my mother do to get funding for the old age community service centre she has started on the municipal plot where she is living? Funders say that the property needs to be in the name of the non-profit organisation (NPO) but she is unable to open a bank account for the NPO as it does not have premises on paper.



The long answer

Wyllie and Shepstone, in an article about land use, say that each municipality must adopt a land use scheme under the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act of 2013 (SPLUMA). Such a land use scheme sets out rules on how land can be used and zoned.   

The zoning regulations categorise property into different zones like commercial, residential, agricultural, civic or social administration. You can only use the land for the purpose it has been categorised under. For any other purpose, you would need to get approval from the municipality by lodging a formal application. 

But they say that "…if your business is in line with the zoning regulations, you may generally operate your business from your home without formal approval or a permit". To be sure what the zoning is, you would have to check with the municipality. 

It’s not clear to me from your email whether your mother owns the municipal plot she is living on or if she rents it from the municipality. This is obviously crucially important, but either way, perhaps the best advice is for your mother to start by visiting her municipality and setting out her situation. She could ask if the municipality is interested in her project. She could explain her difficulties with getting funding or being able to open a bank account for it and ask for their advice. She could also ask if there was a possibility of the municipality endorsing the project and giving her official approval for it to enable her to overcome these difficulties. 

In Cape Town, for example, the City has partnered with a reputable rehabilitation centre run by an NGO called Sultan Bahu, which enables the NGO to offer greatly needed services to people who could not afford to pay for such services.

She could also ask for advice from an organisation like The Black Sash, which provides free paralegal advice.

These are their contact details:

She might also think of consulting an organisation like The Gift of the Givers, which has a great deal of experience in assisting community development efforts all over the world,. They may be able to advise her on a possible path to follow.

These are their contact details:

Wishing you the best,

Answered on July 9, 2023, 10:45 p.m.

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