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

mastercard_partnership.jpgInitiative will focus on Uganda, Ghana and Kenya, and impact an estimated 17,000 households

Kampala, Uganda, April 5, 2013 — Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and The MasterCard Foundation today announced the Uganda launch of a five-year partnership to expand microfinance services by existing financial institutions, to maintain and improve homes for disadvantaged families in three African countries. The partnership began in Ghana in October last year and will launch in Kenya in September this year.

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 target (not guarantee) the building of capacity of local financial institutions already serving the poor to diversify their products to meet shelter-related needs and so reach those people in Uganda, Ghana and Kenya, and who cannot access formal financial institutions. Targeted 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.”

“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 was launched in Ghana last year, and Kenya will follow in October this year.

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


About Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity International is a global nonprofit Christian housing organization that brings together people of all races, nationalities and religions to build homes, communities and hope. Since 1976, Habitat has served more than 500,000 families by building and improving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. For more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit