Habitat for Humanity Canada and The MasterCard Foundation partner to expand access to housing microfinance in Africa
Initiative will focus on Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda and impact an estimated 17,000 households
ACCRA, Ghana, Oct. 1, 2012 /CNW/ - Habitat for Humanity Canada, Habitat for Humanity International (collectively "Habitat") and The MasterCard Foundation today announced the launch of a $6.6 million, five-year partnership to expand microfinance services to maintain and improve homes for disadvantaged families in three African countries.
An estimated 1.6 billion people live in sub-standard shelter around the world, a circumstance that is compounded by dysfunctional formal housing markets that rarely include services for low-income populations. Developer-built, bank-financed homes are rare in Africa, typically serving far fewer than five percent of households in most African countries.
The Habitat and The MasterCard Foundation partnership will reach people in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda who cannot access formal financial institutions. It will build the capacity of nine local financial institutions already serving the poor to diversify their products to meet shelter-related needs. Financial institutions will offer a bundled package of financial and housing support services, a unique approach that will be tested for scale and growth.
"In the last 30 years, small-scale financial services have helped millions of people increase their food security, educate their children, grow their businesses and build their assets," said Stewart Hardacre, President & CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. "Making microfinance loans more accessible for housing will further transform lives and help families build the foundation for a better future."
The launch of this project coincides with World Habitat Day, an annual event designated by the United Nations as a day to draw attention to the systems, policies, and attitudes that lead to poverty housing, and to involve partners in solutions. Having completed over 2,000 Habitat homes for Canadian families, Habitat for Humanity affiliates nationwide will also use World Habitat Day to bring attention to affordable housing need in their communities.
"Housing microfinance is an innovative approach to respond to the basic needs of people living in poverty," said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. "This project will generate insights and enable microfinance institutions to offer relevant products and services to the families they serve."
The project will also emphasize learning and dissemination of emerging promising practices. Together with potential housing microfinance lenders, Habitat and The MasterCard Foundation will engage finance institutions and forums to address the challenge of building replicable scalable models. It will also address the needs for borrower education, housing support services to promote sound housing development, and the general understanding of housing microfinance by lenders. The program will begin in Ghana, with Uganda and Kenya to follow in 2013.
About The MasterCard Foundation
The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in over 48 developing countries, it is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. Based in Toronto, Canada, the Foundation was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company's initial public offering in 2006. It operates independently of MasterCard Worldwide. For more information, visit http://mastercardfdn.org.
About Habitat for Humanity Canada
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, non-profit organization working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. With the help of over 50,000 volunteers every year and 69 affiliate organizations from coast to coast, their mission is to mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to break the cycle of poverty in Canada and around the world. The organization is a member of Habitat for Humanity International, which has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 500,000 houses worldwide, providing shelter for more than 2 million people. For more information, please visit www.habitat.ca.
SOURCE Habitat for Humanity Canada