ATLANTA (Sept. 4, 2012) —The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, is providing $45 million in financing to enable Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) to expand housing microfinance lending and help thousands of low-income families around the world build, improve and maintain decent homes.
“We are very excited to see this microfinance partnership with OPIC move forward,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “In a world where 95 percent of families in developing countries have no access to a home loan, we are eager to see the financial sector provide services and financing for affordable housing so that more families will have a decent place to live.”
MicroBuild, a subsidiary of Habitat for Humanity International, will use proceeds of the OPIC’s investment to lend to selected microfinance institutions around the world, which in turn will make housing microfinance loans to individual families for the purpose of home improvement, incremental housing, land acquisition and new construction. The program is designed to meet the housing needs of low-income families with little or no access to the formal banking sector or mortgage loans. MicroBuild will mobilize funding at the lowest possible cost and select intermediaries committed to fair pricing and sustainability.
Habitat for Humanity International has made housing microfinance a strategic focus and intends to use MicroBuild as a vehicle to expand decent housing to the world’s poor, in part by drawing other investment into the sector.
Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, is co-investing alongside Habitat for Humanity into the MicroBuild Fund. The initiative will provide capital and technical assistance to local financial service providers to help them develop housing and property-related products to households in countries such as Bolivia, Tajikistan, Uganda and Lebanon. Habitat for Humanity will also provide construction and land tenure support to households.
MicroBuild is managed by Triple Jump, a Dutch investment management company established by the Dutch Oxfam affiliate to manage its investments in microfinance institutions (MFIs). Triple Jump is currently managing five funds with more than $400 million invested in 152 MFIs.
Carl Valenstein, a partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP, led a team of lawyers at Bingham and students at the International Transactions Clinic at the University of Michigan School of Law in representing Habitat and MicroBuild on this transaction.
Habitat for Humanity worked with Citi Commercial Bank and Citi Microfinance in establishing the MicroBuild Fund and support to OPIC to facilitate its debt financing.
"Access to appropriate home finance for low-income communities, whether to build, purchase or improve housing, remains one of the most challenging areas for achieving equitable financial and social inclusion,” said Bob Annibale, Citi global director of microfinance and community development. “Habitat for Humanity's Microbuild Fund will stimulate microfinance institutions to develop and provide innovative housing financing that responds to the needs and aspirations of low-income families, improving access, quality and security of housing for many communities."
OPIC is the U.S. government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, guarantees, political risk insurance and support for private equity investment funds.
Established as an agency of the U.S. government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 150 countries worldwide. To date, OPIC has supported more than $200 billion of investment in more than 4,000 projects, generated an estimated $75 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 276,000 American jobs.
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 , or 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 .