May 16, 2016 Print

The historical weight of apartheid in South Africa is staggering, and its repercussions continue to be felt today. The Free Market Foundation (FMF), an Atlas Network partner based in South Africa, estimates that there may be 7 million people who lack secure property titles to their property, because the former apartheid regime made ownership illegal for black residents and the modern titling process is difficult and costly for many low-income families to navigate. FMF’s success story in helping make home ownership a reality for hundreds of these families to date provides a model of effective policy work — not only for future efforts in South Africa, but also for organizations around the world who can learn from the practical steps that FMF took in identifying a problem and implementing an effective solution.


The Khaya Lam (“My Home”) Land Reform project developed by FMF has been highlighted as one of Atlas Network’s new Think Tank Impact case studies, a publication series that showcases a successful partner project in such a way that it can be used as a blueprint for how to craft effective policy projects in any number of other countries and communities around the world. Although the details of each project are specific to time and place, the strategies and techniques involved are widely applicable and they provide lessons on challenges any think tank might come across when managing a project.

The FMF case study includes a project narrative with step-by-step details on how the organization set up a smaller-scale trial to title 3,000 municipal homes in the Ngwathe area of the Free State province, recruited a local project manager who made introductions to local officials, obtained council approval for the plan, set up a local office with a liaison officer and local attorneys, developed a marketing strategy to disseminate project benefits, and began working with residents to prepare their documentation for the titling process.

Download the full case study for free: “Free Market Foundation’s Khaya Lam Land Reform Project.”

“By early 2016, the pilot project had secured 870 land titles in Ngwathe, with another 300 in the pipeline,” the case study explains. “There has been an increase in donor interest in titling in other areas, too, with contributions and pledges received for 1,700 title transfers, mainly in the Cape Town area. FMF has demonstrated that for every US$100,000 in funding it secures for direct project expenses, it is able to generate approximately US$6.7 million in capital for low-income South Africans. This translates into potential for loans for education expenses, new businesses, and property improvements, as well as opportunities for inheritance and relocation.”

Want to take a deep dive into the case studies of the Worldwide Freedom Movement?

Atlas Network believes that some of the best lessons for achieving impact are taught by sharing success stories of similar organizations. Over the next several years, we will be producing a series of Case Studies, based on exceptional think tanks within the Atlas Network. The case study above features the work of FMF, a finalist for the prestigious Templeton Freedom Award in 2015. This and subsequent case studies in the series will provide insight, context, and advice on running effective think tanks. If you would like more in-depth analysis, guidance, and discussion, be sure to participate in Atlas Leadership Academy's Think Tank Impact online course. This course, run quarterly throughout the year, will allow you to learn, share, and address your organization's challenges along with others from the worldwide freedom movement.