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Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter

Current projects

Building Assets, Unlocking Access

Duration: August 2012 - September 2017

Funded by: The Master Card Foundation


  1. Develop, validate and pilot scalable housing microfinance products at nine financial service providers across Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, and strengthen their institutional capacity to increase the potential of taking the housing microfinance product with housing support services to scale.
  2. Develop, validate and pilot scalable housing support services at nine financial service providers across Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
  3. Demonstrate and document the impact of housing finance and housing support services on households and communities in areas such as health, education, greater base of assets and secure tenure; and on institutions’ performance through rigorous research.
  4. Disseminate practical knowledge on housing microfinance to other providers in Africa and for the broader industry, and influence the housing and finance industries.

The Center is overseeing the project and providing institutional technical assistance to the financial institutions engaged in the project to develop or refine housing microfinance products with housing support services, or HSS. This will be done by conducting market mappings of the housing and finance sector, market research, product design, pilot planning and implementation of housing microfinance products with HSS. The Center is also providing support to financial institutions to increase their capacity to take those products to scale and the dissemination of the lessons, as well as overseeing the impact evaluation of the project on the lives of households that have received housing microfinance products with HSS throughout the life of the project.

For more information on this project and to access related research and documents, please visit the project page.

Haiti Home Ownership and Mortgage Expansion Program

Duration: July 2015 - June 2017

Funded by: USAID


In consortium with the World Council of Credit Unions and the Affordable Housing Institute, the CISF is leading the technical strategy for housing finance product development, training and providing technical assistance to developers to work with clients to access housing finance products. The HOME project will catalyze the supply and demand sides of the housing value chain in Haiti to create a sustainable market for affordable housing, and allow 1,750 households to build or improve their homes through longer-term housing finance. By the end of the program, access to housing finance will have reached 7,875 people in low- to moderate-income families, particularly in households headed by women. The objectives of the project are to:

  1. Build capacity of and incentivize traditional and non-traditional financial intermediaries to develop, cost, issue and service affordable housing finance products and services, thus unblocking the flow of capital into housing and to developers or aspiring homeowners.
  2. Introduce capital-related interventions and use these products to leverage additional capital from the market or to allow and incentivize housing developers to build homes that are affordable and meet the housing needs of the low- and middle-income households in the target corridors.
  3. Focus on two related demand-side interventions to ensure successful uptake of the supply side interventions: First, identify the effective demand and consumer preferences for affordable, safe and durable housing among low- to middle-income Haitian households and link them to affordable housing solutions, and second, facilitate market awareness and adoption of innovative and effective affordable housing solutions developed through HOME.
  4. Create a natural exit strategy where sustainable scaling can occur with progressively less reliance on the program’s capital.

Tajikistan Housing Value Chain Analysis and Program Design

Duration: July - November 2015

Funded by: The Hilti Foundation

Objectives: Action for Enterprise and the Center for Innovation in Shelter and Finance are leading a housing value chain analysis program design exercise in Tajikistan with Habitat for Humanity staff. The overall purpose is to analyze the low-income housing market, identify constraints and gaps in service provision related to affordable housing, and identify solutions that private sector companies can provide, with Habitat working as a facilitator alongside these companies.

Completed projects

Feasibility Study for Property Microinsurance: Exploring the Market Opportunity for Housing and Property Insurance in Kenya

Duration: September 2014 - June 2015

Funded by: The Swiss Capacity Building Facility

The Kenya Property Microinsurance Feasibility Study is research commissioned by Habitat for Humanity International’s Center for Innovation in Shelter and Finance to determine the market opportunity for property microinsurance in Kenya and explore product concepts and distribution opportunities through Kenya Commercial Bank. The goal of the feasibility study was two-fold – a comprehensive report, employing desk-based and field research, that:

  1. Provides recommendations to Kenya Commercial Bank and other financial service providers that will lead to developing, pilot testing and up-scaling innovative property microinsurance products that meet the financial needs of low-income households on a commercially sustainable basis.
  2. Serves as a resource for other development and industry actors who are interested in increasing property microinsurance penetration in Kenya, offering recommendations to facilitators, such as Habitat for Humanity International, on how best to support Kenya Commercial Bank and other distribution partners.

Final report: Available online (PDF)

Haiti Housing Value Chain Analysis and Program Design

Duration: January - March 2015

Funded by: The Hilti Foundation

Objectives: Action for Enterprise and the Center for Innovation in Shelter and Finance led a housing value chain analysis/program design exercise in Haiti with Habitat for Humanity staff. The overall purpose was to analyze the low-income housing market, identify constraints and gaps in service provision related to affordable housing, and identify solutions that private sector companies could provide, with Habitat working as a facilitator alongside these companies. While the analysis and program design work is complete, implementation activities are ongoing.

Citi-Habitat Home Improvement Microsavings Pilot Program in Vietnam, Phillipines and Thailand

Duration: August 2011 - May 2015

Funded by: Citi Foundation

The Citi-Habitat Home Improvement Microsavings Pilot Program is an innovative three-year pilot project in disaster prone regions of Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand which aims to mobilize 3,000 low-income homeowners living in these areas to save a total of US$2 million to improve their homes.

The services provided by the Center include:

  • Training partner savings institutions in three countries to build their capacity to offer a micro savings commitment account to low-income savers.
  • Providing market research and product development services to partner institutions.
  • Developing financial education programs and complimentary technical assistance.

USAID Transforming Access to Housing Finance in India

Duration: August 2009 - June 2013

Funded by: USAID

In partnership with Development Innovations Group and Opportunity International, Habitat for Humanity International improved housing conditions with a range of clients, from the unbanked to the poor and very poor. This was done by advancing learning in innovative housing microfinance products and appropriately designed and outsourced household-level in the area of construction technical assistance for the clients and households, while providing the capacity via institutional technical assistance to implementing partners and MFIs keen on housing for the affordable segment. The objective is to develop and roll out a commercially viable loan product for the housing microfinance industry and disseminate lessons to develop a fee for service model.

Services rendered by the Center through the Technical Assistance Center in India include:

  • Support on market research.
  • Product development.
  • Construction technical assistance.
  • Capacity building of MFIs in the housing microfinance industry.
  • Disseminate learning on CTA.
  • ITA for a fee-based model.

IFC Housing Microfinance Toolkit for India

Duration: March 2012 - March 2013

Client: International Finance Corporation, World Bank

The Center, Habitat for Humanity India and Vinod Kothari partnered to support financial institutions/MFIs interested in entering the housing microfinance market through the creation of an India Housing Microfinance Toolkit. This toolkit built the capacity of financial institutions as well as service providers interested in entering the affordable housing microfinance market and included topics such as market strategy, legal and regulatory environment, product development, internal systems, housing support services design and customer awareness for responsible lending.

The contract included the development of the “India Toolkit for Low-income Housing Finance – A Practitioners’ Guide” that was published by IFC, training of 15 MFIs, NBFCs and technical service providers using the Housing Microfinance Toolkit, as well as a session to raise stakeholder awareness on housing microfinance.

Capacity Building for Housing Microfinance-Cambodia

Duration: February - November 2013

Funded by: Swiss Capacity Building Facility

The objective is for Habitat for Humanity Cambodia in consultation and collaboration with regional experts of Habitat’s Center for Innovation for Shelter and Finance to build the capacity of two microfinance institutions to provide scalable and sustainable housing microfinance products. Additionally, it enabled these MFIs to leverage $5 million from Habitat for Humanity International’s MicroBuild fund. This in turn helped these MFIs to provide housing finance and technical assistance for up to 20,000 families over three years.

Services offered by the Center include:

  • Cambodian Housing Microfinance toolkit development.
  • Market research.
  • Product development including Housing Support Services and staff training on the product developed.

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.

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Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter

With more than 1.6 billion people across the globe who still lack adequate shelter, our market development programs are continually pursuing new strategies to assist even more families in need of a safe place to call home.

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