One of the first things towards home ownership if you are like the majority of Zimbabweans who prefer to build rather than buy is a lovely plan. Of course this is important when you have decided to modernise your dwellings too.
The thing that sucks though is that most architects you find will only show you their designs in 2D which are a bit difficult to visualise. It’s also difficult to shop around for architects and designs and most people will just grab the first architect they find and deposit the fate of their dream home into her/his hands.
Afroshelter is a tech startup that is seeking to solve those and other problems. Their website has 3D visuals of predesigned house plans that users can compare and purchase. The designs are from designers and architects from Zimbabwe and South Africa that have partnered with Afroshelter for distribution of their work.
This is thus a two sided marketplace that mediates discovery and relationship between home builders and architects. Afroshelter gets revenue when people buy plans from their website plus other services….
The startup says they get the customer through all the approval processes for the desired plan. Over and above that, the customer can choose to engage them as project mangers for the building project.
Who is this for?
Right now Afroshelter says they are focused on the Zimbabwean market. An important segment of that market is the Zimbabwean diaspora. They hope to not just sell plans to diasporans but to be engaged as project mangers as well. If they do this well, this could be a much appreciated service because countless Zimbabweans living abroad have been duped by relatives and other agents managing their building projects back home.
Within the year, the startup plans on expanding to South Africa.
The founding of Afroshelter
In 2016 the co-founder Emmanuel Chari started drawing house plans during his free time when he was still a university student. It came to his realization that plans with concept 3D designs sold four times more than just 2D designs.
Furthermore plans with 3D designs were easy to market and attracted customers from across the Zimbabwean borders. To meet the growing demand for 3D plans and concept designs, together with Sibusisiwe Mukwakwami a Communications graduate from the University of California Berkeley and Shepherd Mahupa an Accounting graduate & entrepreneur they decided to create an online platform featuring customizable predesigned plans to meet the needs of the overwhelming number of clients.
The trio has self funded the business since. They plan on organically growing the business and perhaps only consider raising investment for international expansion.
Where are they now?
Tomorrow (1 May 2021) Afroshelter is officially launching their business in Harare.