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Habitat for Humanity Introduces Advisory Committee to Lead Efforts for Ambitious ‘indiaBUILDS’ Campaign

Top industrialists and other leaders join the campaign to provide decent shelter for families in need

MUMBAI, 15th July 2006: Leaders from some of India’s best known business organizations are joining Habitat for Humanity India in an ambitious campaign to tackle the scourge of poverty housing.

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Taking up the challenge: advisory committee members (from left) Sanjay Nayar of Citibank, Rajashree Birla of Aditya Birla, Renu Sud Karnad, executive director of HDFC, and Gul Kripalani of the Pijikay group at the Mumbai launch

They will also highlight the importance of providing millions of fellow countrymen and women with an important catalyst for breaking the cycle of poverty – a decent, safe, affordable home of their own.

The indiaBUILDS campaign will highlight the dire need for affordable housing in this country of 1.1 billion people, nearly a quarter of whom live on less than US$1 a day. The five-year campaign is an example of what can be accomplished when families, communities and nations come together to build a future where every man, woman and child has a decent place to live.

At a media conference in Mumbai on Friday, members of HFH India’s 2006 indiaBUILDS Advisory Committee were introduced for the first time. The committee is co-chaired by Sanjay Nayar, chief executive of Citigroup India and area head of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, and Smt. Rajashree Birla, chair of the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development, part of the Aditya Birla Group, one of India’s largest business groups.

Other prominent business leaders forming the Advisory Committee include: the chairman of Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd., Mr. Deepak Parekh; the chairman and editor-in-chief of India Today Group, Mr. Aroon Purie; the founder chairman of Essel Group of Industries, Mr. Subhash Chandra; the chairman of Lupin Ltd. Dr. Desh Bandhu Gupta; the managing director of Hiranandani group, Mr. Niranjan Hiranandani; as well as Mr. Gul Kripalani, chairman and managing director of the Pijikay group.

The first of a series of large-scale annual indiaBUILDS events is the 2006 Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP), which will be held from 30th October to 3rd November, in Lonavala, Maharashtra. The goal of the week-long JCWP, led by former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, is to put 100 more families into safe, decent homes. JCWP is held each year in a different location. This is the first time the event has been held in South Asia.

Speaking at the launch, co-chair Mr. Nayar, said: “Issues related to housing are central to our nation’s (India’s) progress and addressing them cannot be done by any one individual or organization. It must be a collective effort.”

“Homeownership, we believe, raises the standard of living for individuals and we are happy to be part of Habitat for Humanity’s five-year indiaBUILDS Campaign, which will offer this opportunity to many underprivileged families. It is also a wonderful opportunity for our employees in India and across the world to help strengthen our commitment to help make communities better as they get involved as volunteers to build not just homes, but a future for these families.”

Speaking at the same event, co-chair Smt. Birla had this to say: “The Citigroup Foundation and the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives are closely working with Habitat for Humanity in this major initiative that would impact the lives of several underprivileged families and with the new members joining in today, I am sure we will be able to scale up the impact further.”

“We are sure that with the new members who have joined today, we will be able to scale up the efforts even further. We welcome President Carter and Rosalynn and look forward to ensuring the success of JCWP as a building project, as a platform to highlight the issue of poverty housing in our great nation, and to demonstrate practical solutions to alleviating this scourge.”

The Aditya Birla Group has already built 100 houses along with Habitat for Humanity in Renukoot in Uttar Pradesh, another 119 houses in Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, and is committed to another 300 houses in the foreseeable future.

Citigroup and the Citigroup Foundation have historically supported Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and the work they do around the globe. Recently, Citigroup presented HFHI with a US$2 million grant to focus on providing quality affordable housing to families in India and the US.

“We are delighted that so many prominent figures from so many different parts of India’s business community are responding to our vision of an India and a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” said Felix Fernandes, chief financial officer and acting chief operating officer of Habitat for Humanity India.

“Our advisory committee members will be tasked with getting the word out that poverty housing affects us all and that by working together we can ensure people in need have a proper home in which to raise their families and build their lives. Habitat for Humanity’s work with partner families and supporters in thousands of communities around the world shows that a decent home is vital step in breaking the cycle of poverty.”

“With their leadership, expertise, counsel and connections, our advisory committee members will enable Habitat to provide better housing for tens of thousands of Indians families in need over the next five years and inspire others to champion innovative solutions for the estimated 315 million Indians who lack a decent place to call home,” said Mr. Fernandes.

Committee members will be involved in helping Habitat for Humanity India’s indiaBUILDS campaign achieve four specific goals by 2010. These are:

To improve the quality of the life for approximately 250,000 people through better housing;

  • To mobilize one million volunteers from India and beyond to provide their time, expertise, resources and leadership, including offering to work on building sites with Habitat for Humanity homepartners;
  • To raise US$100 million to build affordable housing in India, sufficient to produce a US$50 million housing equity fund. Some US$65 million would come through supporters and donors and some US$35 million through the savings of homeowners, mainly in microfinance housing schemes, and
  • To create a network of individuals, corporations, civic groups, non-government organizations and governments working and advocating for an end of poverty housing.
  • yearindiaBUILDSwill feature a headline event designed to focus attention on poverty housing. This year’s signature event will be the international annual Jimmy Carter Work Project. Thousands of volunteers from India and around the world will come to a village at Lonavala, Maharashtra, to build houses with local families in need.