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Habitat for Humanity and the Citi Foundation unveil housing microfinance toolkit for product development for financial institutions

Toolkit to encourage development of housing microfinance programs for low-income families

Atlanta (Oct. 29, 2012)– Habitat for Humanity and the Citi Foundation announced the publication of a new toolkit designed to provide technical training and tools to encourage microfinance institutions to include or enhance housing microfinance products in their portfolios. The Housing Microfinance: Product Development Toolkit is intended to influence the $60 billion global microfinance sector, resulting in small, affordable loans that low-income families can use to improve their housing incrementally. The toolkit was developed by Habitat’s Center for Innovation in Shelter and Finance with lead sponsorship by the Citi Foundation and additional support from the Multilateral Investment Fund.

Habitat and Citi have unveiled a new toolkit, to encourage microfinance institutions to include or enhance housing microfinance products. These products help financially excluded families like that of Asia Marinova, whose husband, Stefan Nikolov, received a housing microfinance loan to connect their home in Targovishte, Bulgaria, to the local water supply in 2011.

“Because much of the developing world produces housing in stages as families assemble the materials and resources, Habitat for Humanity International has made housing microfinance a strategic focus,” said Mike Carscaddon, executive vice president, international field operations, Habitat for Humanity International. “Our hope is this toolkit can help increase access to financial services needed by low-income families worldwide.”

According to the economic research department of Rabobank, Nederland, roughly 4 billion people living in developing countries lack access to formal financial services. The Habitat for Humanity toolkit will help connect low-income families with affordable financial services for increasing access to adequate housing. The toolkit is available in English and Spanish, and contains a variety of modules that provide resources and strategies for developing sustainable housing microfinance programs, including market research, product design, pilot planning and implementation and housing support services. Future editions will cover topics such as secure tenure, micro mortgages, micro savings and the expansion of the housing support services module.

“This toolkit is an important step toward increasing the supply of financial products and services that address the housing challenges and needs of low-income communities,” said Pamela Flaherty, President and CEO of the Citi Foundation. “Habitat for Humanity is the preeminent authority on testing innovative solutions that create opportunities for financial inclusion through housing, and the Citi Foundation is pleased to continue our long partnership on programs that empower individuals and families with the support, stability and safety that housing provides.” 

The Habitat for Humanity Center for Innovation in Shelter and Finance facilitates collaboration among public, private and third sector actors in the market to develop sustainable and innovative housing solutions for the 1.6 billion people worldwide who lack adequate shelter. The center’s initiative includes market development approaches to increase access to affordable shelter solutions among lower income populations. The center offers advisory services, engages in research and promotes peer learning opportunities.

Citi and the Citi Foundation have supported Habitat for Humanity since 1999, providing more than $34 million in support of Habitat’s mission of creating simple, decent, affordable housing and housing interventions in partnership with low-income families.

Habitat’s Center for Innovation in Shelter and Finance unveiled The Housing Microfinance: Product Development Toolkit during training sessions at the Regional Forum on Adequate Housing In Latin America and the Caribbean held in Bogota D.C., Colombia; and at Foromic 2012, a forum for supporting and financing microenterprises, small and medium-sized companies, and small farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Barbados. The center will also feature the toolkit in a training session at the 2012 SEEP Annual Conference. SEEP is a network of more than 130 microfinance associations dedicated to combating poverty by promoting inclusive markets and financial systems.
 
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 preserve 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 www.Habitat.org, follow us at www.facebook.com/habitat or at www.twitter.com/habitat_org or join Habitat’s blog community at www.habitat.org/blog.

About the Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of individuals and families, particularly those in need, in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving to priority focus areas: Microfinance, Enterprise Development, Youth Education and Livelihoods, and Financial Capability and Asset Building. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance and Enterprise Development to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at www.citifoundation.com.