“About 2 billion people live in absolute poverty. In 2010 the United Nations calculated that there were about 827m people living in slums and predicted that the number might double by 2030.” — The Economist
Last year, Vijay Govindarajan and Christian Sarkar urged CEOs, Governments, NGOs, Foundations to join forces and tackle the global housing-for-the-poor problem by providing affordable houses. What started as a blog post on the Harvard Business Review has grown into a worldwide brainstorming project: the $300 House.
“The goal is to design, build, and deploy a simple dwelling which keeps a family safe from the weather, allows them to sleep at night, and gives them a little bit of dignity. If we can give the poor a chance to live safely and build an inclusive ecosystem of services around them which includes, clean water, sanitation, health services, family planning, education, and micro enterprise, maybe we can start reducing the disease of poverty. By helping create this ecosystem, we believe companies can make money while providing services needed by the poor at an affordable cost. The poor deserve a chance, a real chance, to make it out of poverty.”
On April 20, Mr. Govindarajan invited everyone, students, teachers, architects, institutions, businesses, to participate and to submit designs for a prototype of the house. Winners will be selected by the online community and an expert panel of judges. In addition to a cash award, winners also receive a scholarship to a workshop to build actual prototypes of the $300 house, and to operationalize a social venture to manufacture and distribute the homes.
Commercialisation issues might come on top of conception challenges. But this has not stopped skilled and creative enthusiasts from working together and submitting humble solutions firmly rooted in reality. The contest runs until May 31!