We need to create a 1million person city every 5 days from now until 2050 based on current urbanisation projections.
— - UN Habitat

Bjala is a social urban enterprise on a mission to deliver phase 2 of its urbanisation plan. 

Bjala is a multi disciplinary organisation concerned with human settlement challenges, pioneering innovations in urban solutions focused at low income earners, tackling inequality, catalysing job creation and education opportunities.


The context

Urbanization is a massive phenomenon. We need to create a 1 million person city every 5 days from now until 2050 based on current projections. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 200mil people live in urban slum conditions  alone.

Despite the colossal challenges presented by urban development, opportunity for better urban living is abundant and that’s Bjala's purpose. We need a new approach to meeting urbanisation needs, one led through innovation and new ways of framing the problems.

Bjala is a social urban enterprise an integrated solution maker which focuses on low income communities through Housing, Education, Community building, and Job Creation.

We try make urban living better for people in the hope they will thrive not simply survive.

Bjala has developed an approach in the way we think about cities. Urban-Hardware, is the physical bricks & mortar built environment, and how people relate and use that hardware is the Urban-Software. We aim to create a seamless connection between the two.


At the centre of all human settlment activities has to ultimatley be the human being.

Cities exisit because of people. It's people's needs, desires and their interaction with one another and the environment that shape our human settlements.

Often a tension between these human forces and the forces of control exist.

Policies, laws, planning and infrastructure development aim to provide structure and control to a complex system of human settlement, and this is the challenge.

When a person becomes an occupant of a particular place they can be said to be a Citizen of that place. A web of relations arise between the person and that place under their status as a citizen, formal or informal.

It is with this in mind that Bjala aims to develop an approach that betters Citizenship through an innovative model.

For Bjala the idea of citizenship is based on a unit of urbanity – what are the basic human needs and rights to which a healthy urban neighbourhood should adhere to?

Our approach consists of focus categories, supplemented by a set of characteristics. These categories are ultimately the basic ingredients that could lead to a healthy Urban environment.


Urban Hardware – the infrastructure and built environment which houses life.

Urban Software – the social interactions, connections and intelligence that is embedded in society.

Precinct – a defined and controlled environment with a specific urban program or purpose.

Neighbourhood – a geographic area with a specific social/cultural identity as shaped through community and social interaction.

West-Jeppe – the formerly industrial fabric east of the Johannesburg CBD which houses a rich mix of lower income citizens seeking to gain equitable access to the resources of the city.

Bjala Neighbourhood – the geographic focus area of Bjala for upliftment and social transformation through social programmes and the upgrading of buildings and public space.

Rental priority Policy – a concerted effort which affords low-income residents of Jeppestown preferential access to housing/prioritises local community members who apply for housing units and who fall in the low-income range of earnings.

Affordable Housing - deemed affordable to those with a median household income as rated by country/region/municipality by a recognized Housing Affordability Index.