Housing Series: The Critical Shift Toward Asset Building

Housing Series: The Critical Shift Toward Asset Building

Authored by: Irena Shiba and Patrick Kelley

(Above: Edwardo Pereira works outside his family’s home. In an area of Chile known as Los Andes. Edwardo works at the copper mine and is already working on an addition to the Habitat house, which will mean an extra bedroom and a slightly larger kitchen. Image credit: Steffan Hacker)

Editor’s Note: The following post is part of NextBillion’s month-long series in partnership with Ashoka focused on affordable housing issues. Please follow the entire series HERE and join the discussion with your thoughts and insights. 

For more than two decades, the partnership between the Citi Foundation and Habitat for Humanity International (Habitat) relied heavily on a “one house, one family,” volunteer house-building model. As a result, more than 500 Citi-sponsored homes were built with the help of Citi volunteers. While this is no small feat, we know this it is simply not enough, nor is it a sustainable solution. 

The need among the world’s poor far exceeds what can be achieved through house-building programs alone. A shift to a strategy that increases the supply of financial products and services that accelerate financial inclusion is urgently needed. Our two organizations have already started working together to make this shift, which we will detail later in this post.

With increasing demand for both access to affordable housing and appropriate financial products across the globe, our organizations realize that an enormous opportunity exists: one that provides products that help low income households build assets that can be used to improve living conditions and more importantly, to join the financial mainstream and accelerate financial inclusion. The growth of microfinance to now provide savings, credit, insurance, and remittance services to nearly 200 million of the world’s poor, has created a platform of varied institutional types that we believe are ready to begin taking on new strategies to help clients build assets that improve their living conditions.

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