Cinderella Arrives at the Ball: NextBillion and Ashoka launch Affordable Housing e-Book
I often call affordable housing the forgotten stepchild of the social enterprise sector, but this dynamic may be changing. With the launch of their new e-Book, The Big Idea: Global Spread of Affordable Housing, NextBillion and Ashoka are fostering an important dialogue about the need for increased access to affordable homes and best practices emerging in the sector.
Our contribution to the book, “Impact Investing in Affordable Housing,” serves as a call to action for social entrepreneurs and impact investors. It reminds us of why we often ignore housing—in sum, housing rarely fits neatly into the social enterprise box, it is slow, it is not sexy, and it hardly ever succeeds without some form of subsidy. Yet, it also reminds us that if we do ignore housing, we are mistaking the forest for the trees. When we look closely, we see that housing is tied to all the other issues we work to address – healthcare, energy, education, water and sanitation – and the impact of providing a quality affordable home is undeniable. However, in order to achieve the impact we seek, affordable housing needs more patient capital and committed entrepreneurs to take the plunge.
Yet “taking the plunge” is not easy, and housing is one of the most complex and challenging sectors. The e-book sheds light on many of these challenges and points to inspiring and creative strategies to tackle them. In addition to Acumen Fund’s contribution, the e-book includes pieces from Ashoka, Citi Foundation, Dow Corning, Habitat for Humanity, Hystra, micro Home Solutions, and Tara Nova. It contains a diversity of valuable perspectives, and is well worth a read.
Aden Van Noppen is a Housing Portfolio Consultant at Acumen Fund’s East Africa Office and a guest writer for Nextbillion.net. Aden holds a B.A. in International Development from Brown University.