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Habitat for Humanity and The MasterCard Foundation partner to expand access to housing microfinance in Africa

Initiative will focus on Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda and impact an estimated 17,000 households

Accra, Ghana, (October 8, 2012) — Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and The MasterCard Foundation recently announced the launch of a $6.6 million, five-year partnership to expand microfinance services to maintain and improve homes for disadvantaged families in three African countries.

An estimated 1.6 billion people live in sub-standard shelter around the world, a circumstance that is compounded by dysfunctional formal housing markets that rarely include services for low-income populations. Developer-built, bank-financed homes are rare in Africa, typically serving far fewer than five percent of households in most African countries. 

The HFHI and The MasterCard Foundation partnership will reach people in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda who cannot access formal financial institutions. It will target (not guarantee) the building of  capacity of nine local financial institutions already serving the poor to diversify their products to meet shelter-related needs. Financial institutions will offer a bundled package of financial and housing support services, a unique approach that will be tested for scale and growth. 

“Like many in the developing world, the families that will be served by this partnership have never been able to access resources to improve their homes and increase their opportunities,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “We believe that providing these microfinance services can absolutely transform lives and help families build the foundation for a better future.”

The launch of this project coincided with World Habitat Day (October1, 2012), an annual event designated by the United Nations as a day to draw attention to the systems, policies, and attitudes that lead to poverty housing, and to involve partners in solutions. 

“Housing microfinance is an innovative approach to respond to the basic needs of people living in poverty,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. “This project will generate insights and enable microfinance institutions to offer relevant products and services to the families they serve.”

The project will also emphasize learning and dissemination of emerging promising practices. Together with potential housing microfinance lenders, HFHI and The MasterCard Foundation will engage finance institutions and forums to address the challenge of building replicable scalable models.  It will also address the needs for borrower education, housing support services to promote sound housing development, and the general understanding of housing microfinance by lenders.  The program will begin in Ghana, with Uganda and Kenya to follow in 2013.

About The MasterCard Foundation 
The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in over 48 developing countries, it is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. Based in Toronto, Canada, the Foundation was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company’s initial public offering in 2006. It operates independently of MasterCard Worldwide. For more information, visit http://mastercardfdn.org.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is a global nonprofit Christian housing organization that seeks to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. Since 1976, Habitat has served more than 500,000 families by welcoming people of all races, religions and nationalities to construct, rehabilitate or maintain homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. In Africa and the Middle East, Habitat for Humanity is active in 15 countries. For more information please visit www.habitat.org/ame