Habitat for Humanity is embracing private-sector innovation to advance its decades-old mission
The first time I worked with Habitat for Humanity I was ten years old, building a house in rural Virginia with my church youth group. We spent the weekend hammering together two-by-fours, laying cement, and putting up plywood walls. Later that day an electrician came and wired the house for lighting while a plumber installed the water fixtures. We drove home that Sunday feeling like we accomplished something great — building a new home with a family that wouldn’t otherwise have one.
Habitat for Humanity has been operating as a philanthropy in low-income communities since the 1970’s, and their volunteers have helped nearly ten million people build and improve homes in more than 70 countries.
As they entered their fifth decade, the leadership of Habitat for Humanity had a revelation: their deep roots in communities around the world gave them a unique insight into — and ability to support — other actors working toward the same goal of ending the global housing gap. Like other international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), they took the leap of working with private sector entrepreneurs. This is the story of how they got there.