young girl in India reading on her concrete floor.

Why ShelterTech?

The challenge is daunting: if we don’t change course, 3 billion people globally will live in inadequate shelter by 2050, many living in slums and informal settlements that, for generations, have trapped families in a cycle of poverty, poor health and social injustice.

Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live — and ShelterTech brings this into focus every time someone with a breakthrough housing idea improves their business model in partnership with impact investors, mentors and peers. ShelterTech supports housing innovation with a broad sector focus, ranging from materials and markets to energy and WASH solutions.

The need for ShelterTech now

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of safe, affordable shelter. Housing is foundational. It supports health and sits at the center of many families’ livelihoods. Yet, even with millions of people living in informal settlements and slums, housing remains an overlooked, under-valued sector in the impact investment space.

At the global level, the number of people living without adequate housing will be 3 billion by 2050, if no action is taken right now.
— UN-Habitat, 2016

Entrepreneurs are developing original and innovative solutions in the affordable housing sector, but many lack connections and the right support to scale their businessesShelterTech’s mission is to bridge the gap between these startups and scaleups and opportunities in the shelter space.

ShelterTech is built on Habitat for Humanity’s decades of global experience as a leading affordable housing organization. Leveraging Habitat’s extensive network and expertise, the program catalyzes key industry players, ranging from corporations to investors, academics and innovators to provide mentorship, connections and funding for startups.

What startups say

“The highlight of ShelterTech has definitely been the networking. Exchanging ideas on engaging potential social impact investors and brainstorming on affordable housing solutions to meet low-income people’s needs has been helpful.”
— Soe Win Zaw, founder, Pounamu (Southeast Asia cohort)
“The ShelterTech accelerator was a game-changer for us. They mentor entrepreneurs who are mission-aligned and have a passion to create enduring, built-to-last companies.”
— Tharun Kumar, co-founder and CEO, ECOSTP (India cohort)
“I believe the program, and without a doubt its funding, add a lot of value. But the biggest benefit comes from the collaboration and interactions with the participating companies.”
— Yusef Jacobs, CEO and founder, Graviti (Mexico cohort)

About the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter

Habitat for Humanity’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter works to expand market-based, client-responsive services, products and financing so that households can improve their shelter more effectively and efficiently.

As a strong believer in the power of innovation to solve existing housing and sustainable development challenges, the Terwilliger Center partners with entrepreneurs and early-stage companies to harness their capabilities in developing products and services that are affordable, scalable, locally appropriate and environmentally friendly. Beyond helping low-income families meet their housing needs, the Terwilliger Center works as a catalyst to help create thriving and sustainable housing markets by providing technical expertise, advice and financial support to industry players who help low-income households obtain affordable housing.

ShelterTech opportunities

At the intersection of affordable housing, innovation and technology, ShelterTech identifies promising innovations in the affordable housing space. Learn about our opportunities for entrepreneurs, mentors, sponsors and partners.

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ShelterTech FAQ

Read some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Habitat’s ShelterTech platform and startup accelerators.

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