Yesterday we reported on the United Nations’ announcement that October 4th is to be known as World Habitat Day and Habitat for Humanity just announced this week that they are building a microfinance fund for housing called MicroBuild. Habitat for Humanity already works with partnering microfinance institutions in places such as Columbia, Nepal, and Uganda, but the new announcement, which stemmed from Habitat CEO’s $25 million commitment to the fund, signals how microfinance is widening its scope.
Just this week, we also reported on Kiva’s expansion to education loans, making it possible to fund a college student’s education in a faraway country. Lend4Health is also a popular health-related microfinance site, allowing people to make small loans to support children with autism and other disorders.
But the focus on housing meets multiple ends, as housing relates not only to shelter and stability, but also health. “By developing the MicroBuild Fund, we will be able to serve even more families by making financing available for housing improvements on affordable terms,” said Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford. Whether it’s asthma or lead poisoning, making loans available to low-income individuals around the world allows home-owners to improve their quality of life that much more.
As Kiva has learned, working with trustworthy, reliable partners is critical, which is why Kiva rolled out its education loans in just three countries to begin with. So Habitat will have to do the same, making sure that partners do not pry on the poor or misuse the funds. Once partners are proven, as Kiva learned, that’s also when the funding starts to securely roll in in greater amounts.