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Aden Van Noppen, on behalf of micro Home Solutions, spoke to Beyond Profit about an innovative home improvement product in India.
Aden Van Noppen (AVN) works on Strategic Planning and Partnership Management at mHS.
Tell us about your organization.
AVN: micro Home Solutions (mHS) is a for-profit social enterprise that creates solutions for the 40 million people without access to adequate housing in India. mHS was founded in 2009 by Rakhi Mehra and Marco Ferrarioas an interdisciplinary social enterprise that links architectural, financial and social approaches to offer a portfolio of affordable housing options to the urban poor.
What makes your business model unique?
AVN: Our main pilot project, Design Home Solutions (DHS) is a home improvement product that combines customized architectural and design assistance with affordable financing for low-income families. The poor want to live in safe, strong, well-designed homes as much as anyone else. But they are forced to build unsafe structures that lead to potential accidents, greater incidence of diseases, uncomfortable layouts, and virtually no privacy
By increasing security of tenure and providing access to finance and technical expertise, DHS allows people to invest in home improvements and construct long-lasting structures, more comfortable spaces, and even additional floors that they can rent out for added income.
What are the “innovative financial terms” you refer to on your website?
AVN:For DHS, mHS successfully facilitated financial institutions to accept currently available housing possession documents for home construction and improvements loans up to Rs 300,000 (~US$ 7,000). Over the last 6 months, we conducted the DHS pilot in partnership with BASIX, one of the largest microfinance institutions in India.
How adaptable is your work in India to other emerging markets?
AVN:We believe our work appliesthroughout urban India and in other emerging markets, especially those that are rapidly urbanizing. However, we continue to see the importance of designing contextually specific solutions. We cannot ignore the different social and political, even spatial and geographical, circumstances that exist in each new location.
Our primary goal is to catalyze solutions by developing viable business models and facilitating partnerships, as opposed to operating and scaling like a traditional social enterprise. For example, once we incubate and prove the DHS model, we will spin it out as an independent business with its own clear path to scale. Our future projects will evolve similarly, building concepts that both grow into viable businesses and serve as alternative examples of how India, and communities around the world, can build socially inclusive cities.
Photo credit: Aden Van Noppen