From philanthropy to building partnerships.

Author:McKenna, Tjada
Position:Communique - Interview
 
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Habitat for Humanity started more than 40 years ago with a philanthropic aim, building homes in partnership with people in need of affordable housing. But the rising challenge of the increasing numbers of people needing decent shelter has led to a change in Habitat's strategy. Today, Habitat is not only building partnerships to advance its work, it is also focusing on engaging the private sector. Speaking to New African, Tjada McKenna (pictured below), Chief Operating Officer at Habitat for Humanity International, explained Habitat's new initiatives.

Your vision at Habitat is that everyone should have a decent home. Is that not a mere dream considering the astronomical number of people without proper shelter?

At Habitat we believe it is possible for every human being to have a decent dwelling. Over the years we have realised that every human being is capable of owning a proper home, not merely through receiving donations but more importantly, through being empowered to do so. It is true that owning a decent home needs significant resources not available to low-income earners. But you also know that a house is an asset of great value to a family. Even those on low incomes can own such assets in the short, medium or long term, depending on their level of income.

But financial institutions want collateral they will finance those who have assets.

Yes, they do. But we are showing them that there are opportunities, actually better opportunities in financing low-income earners to acquire homes. You have heard what those financial institutions engaged in financing low-income earners to build homes have said at this forum. We need to change the mindset of financial institutions because the number of people in need of decent dwellings is increasing...

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