Man standing in front of construction site smiling at camera while wearing a hard hat

About Habitat's Terwilliger Center

Building more equitable housing markets through innovation

The challenge

Despite burgeoning demand for affordable housing, low-income families around the world are largely underserved by housing markets. Shut out by the income requirements of the mortgage sector and unable to afford high-quality building materials and services, they build their homes incrementally, often with poor advice and substandard materials. While philanthropic efforts may help alleviate the pressing housing needs of some, McKinsey estimates that it will require an estimated US$16 trillion to close the affordable housing deficit, 80 percent of which must come from the private sector.

The opportunity

There is tremendous untapped potential – within both the demand and supply sides of housing markets – that if addressed could substantially improve housing availability and quality for low-income households. Through the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, Habitat for Humanity works in some of the most pivotal yet uncharted intervention points in housing markets piloting new approaches and making a business case where none exists.

    Our approach

    Through 250+ partnerships – with financial institutions, material manufacturers, retailers, academic and vocational institutes, design firms, media companies and civil society organizations – the Terwilliger Center is working to build more inclusive housing markets that better address the needs of low-income families.

    Our program areas:

    • Housing Finance Systems.
    • Housing Technology and Entrepreneurship.
    • Construction Decisions and Practices.

    Our impact


    Map of where TCIS works with these countries highlighted: Albania Armenia Azerbaijan Bangladesh Bolivia Bosnia Bulgaria Cambodia Colombia Costa Rica Chile Dominican Republic East Timor Ecuador El-Salvador Ethiopia Egypt Georgia Ghana Guatemala Honduras India Indonesia Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kosovo Kyrgyzstan Lebanon Liberia Macedonia Madagascar Malaysia Malawi Mexico Moldova Mongolia Myanmar Nepal Nicaragua Nigeria Norway Panama Peru Philippines Romania Rwanda Singapore South Africa Sri Lanka Tajikistan Ta

    Formally launched at UN-Habitat’s historic Habitat III conference in October 2016, the Terwilliger Center consolidates more than a decade of Habitat’s experience in housing innovation, finance and market systems development. Through the Terwilliger Center, Habitat for Humanity has:

    • Helped over 27.8 million people access improved housing through market systems approaches.
    • Unlocked US$7.9 billion in affordable housing finance.
    • Worked with more than 100 financial institutions, including partners in microfinance, insurance, mortgage refinancing and housing finance associations.
    • Catalyzed US$64 million in new business for firms serving the low-income segment.
    • Partnered with more than 250 local and multinational companies to test and scale new products and services.
    • Supported over 58,000 masons and artisans in improving their skills and gaining certifications by helping technical and vocational institutions make market-informed updates to their curricula and programs.

    Our leadership team

    Jacqueline Innocent
    Senior Vice President – Integrated Programs

    Roland Pearson
    Vice President & Executive Director – Terwilliger Center

    Scott Merrill
    Senior Global Director – Market Systems and Entrepreneurship

    Naeem Razwani
    Senior Global Director – Housing Finance Systems

    Jitendra Balani
    Director – Housing Finance Program Design
    Global Lead – MicroBuild

    Jessan Catre
    Country Director – Philippines

    Lizan Kuster
    Director – Entrepreneurship & Innovation
    Global Lead – ShelterTech

    Fernando Mendoza
    Country Director – Mexico

    Anoop Nambiar
    Country Director ­– India

    Jennifer Oomen
    Director – Applied Innovation

    Jane Otima
    Regional Director – Africa

    Meera Siva
    Director – Shelter Venture Fund

    Gema Stratico
    Country Director – Peru


    Our advisory board

    J. Ronald Terwilliger – Chair

    Patrick Canagasingham

    Ariel Cano Cuevas

    Cary Evert

    Marja Hoek-Smit

    Laura Hemrika

    Alejandro Krell

    Dhaval Monani

    Tom Uhlman

    Interested in working with us?

    Open positions: consult Habitat for Humanity’s careers page.

    Consultants: Send your CV to [email protected].

    MicroBuild Fund

    Directing investment capital to the housing sector is an important part of insuring that there is an adequate supply of housing products and related services in the market.

    Learn more