The Mastercard Foundation's efforts to increase financial inclusion in Africa include helping low-income earners gain access to housing finance. Ruth Dueck-Mbeba, Senior Program Manager (pictured below), spoke to New African about the Foundation's partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
The Mastercard Foundation has formed a key partnership with Habitat in the area of housing finance. How does the need to improve housing finance compare with the other challenges facing Africa?
One of the Foundation's goals is to improve financial inclusion, which provides the opportunity for people to become active actors in the economic life of their communities.
Africa has the youngest and fastest growing population in the world. We believe that empowering young people, especially young women, who have historically been left out of the financial fold will bring positive change to the continent. Assisting with finance for secure housing is an important part of that.
Let us talk about the Mastercard Foundation's involvement in housing finance.
We believe that owning a secure and safe shelter is a fundamental human right. Sadly in Africa, a large number of people live in poor, insecure dwellings, which are often dehumanising since they are not fit for humans. The statistics paint a difficult picture: less than 5 per cent of Africans can access or afford a typical housing mortgage. By 2050 Africa's population is expected to rise to 2.4 billion, a quarter of the world's population. Sadly, poverty and economic inequality continue to rise.
As you have heard at the Forum, our partnership with Habitat has succeeded in making housing finance available for the poor who would not ordinarily be able to afford a mortgage. We believe that our initiative will spur other actors to come into the sector.
What impact do you think the Mastercard Foundation's work has had on poverty in Africa?
The conversation on housing finance has expanded. I am aware that the African Development Bank is leading a discussion on how pension funds can be invested in the housing and other sectors to transform the continent. The Kenyan government has included the provision of affordable housing as one of the four pillars of development that need to be focused on.
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