By Scott Anderson
Several months ago, NextBillion teamed up with one of our Content Partners, Ashoka Full Economic Citizenship, for a Twitter chat. Our mission: Source the most innovative and successful thought leaders and practitioners addressing the multiple challenges and market solutions to affordable housing and post their examples and ideas on our site to share with hundreds of thousands of our readers globally.
The discussion was lively, and ideas tumbled out even faster than your typical Twitter chat. It’s hard to find a topic with more complexities and more relevance to the poverty alleviation puzzle than affordable housing. From financing to land rights, from market incentives to build new homes to rehabilitation of self-built dilapidated dwellings, from new eco-friendly building materials to new social-business models that ensure sustainable and profitable development , affordable housing is a complex ecosystem with all its intricacies.
As Rochelle Beck, communications director at Ashoka’s Full Economic Citizenship noted, the affordable housing gap is wide and growing wider. More than 1.6 billion people, or one-seventh of the world’s population, now lives in slums. By 2030, the UN projects this number will triple. This means globally each day, 200,000 people leave the land and move to cities; from now on, the world will need to build the equivalent of a million-person city every week just to keep up.
But, as Ashoka Founder Bill Drayton noted: “If a billion people are shut out of the formal housing market, what would it mean to your business if you could unlock the potential of that trillion dollar market?”
That mindset drove a series of articles that appeared on NextBillion as we homed in on the issues and identified a diverse cross-section of leaders from organizations including Acumen Fund, Citi Foundation, Dow Corning, Echale a Tu Casa, Habitat for Humanity International, Hystra, micro Home Solutions and Terra Nova, Build Change and Ashoka’s Housing For All.
The result was a strong lineup of nearly two-dozen posts from a diverse group of authors – in terms of both expertise and geography. They provided cutting edge information, experience, and openness that ultimately led to a rich online exchange on market-based solutions to housing over the course of the six-week series.
This was a special project, and while you can find the entire series on the Big Idea page of NextBillion, we wanted to do something special to match it. We recently launched the publication of a new ebook: The BIG IDEA: Global Spread of Affordable Housing.
I want to credit our partners at Ashoka FEC, whose experience in the sector made for such a rich set of contributors, and who designed the ebook format, which we can share freely and widely. It literally lets readers flip the pages through their browser or download it as a PDF. (It also works great on an iPad, especially if you download it as an iBook). This format lets readers watch videos embedded in the text without leaving the page or their train of thought; translate the text into any of 30 languages by using the Google translation button; make notes and easily share an article or the entire book with colleagues.
This ebook serves as a resource and a spark for generating new ideas around this ever-changing and all-encompassing sector. Our readers also told us it has valuable lessons for other sectors looking at that sweet spot between private enterprise and social value. So please share it to your friends and colleagues, and feel free to let us and our contributors know what you think.
About the Authors:
Scott Anderson is the managing editor of NextBillion.net, a web community focused on poverty alleviation through market-based enterprise. He is based at the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan. Follow him on Twitter @ScotterAnderson