July 24, 2013

The $300 House Project - Creating Affordable Living for the poor

Hi Guys,

How many people have criticized the presence of slums inside the metro cities? How many people have wanted those areas to go away of the city? But, how many of us have considered a real solution for those people? We have Slum Clearance Boards. But, have these boards done something useful across the years? Either they plan for poor quality homes or unfeasible plans and the slums have stayed across the years. There is a huge bunch of people who do not have any shelter to stay too.

A few people in USA started to dream on the possibility of a low cost house for these type of people and their dreams have come true to a large extent. Christian Sarkar, a marketing consultant in USA started the concept. His idea was based out of the people in Haiti, who do not have proper shelters to live. He approached Vijay Govindarajan, who is a professor at Tuck School of Business. Together they started the $300 House Project.

‘90 percent of the world’s designers spend all their time working on solutions to the problems of the richest 10 percent of the world’s customers’ – Paul Polak

Christian Sarkar explaining the concept in TEDxGateway Mumbai 2012 partnered by Franklin Templeton Investments. To see the video in Youtube, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haMM-hiG6k4

The aim was to build a house with basic facilities that can provide the poor people a safe place to live in. They announced a contest and received exactly 300 entries. Together they built a community. A community that was committed to the development of the society. A community that wanted other Human beings to safe. Together they developed prototypes in different places. As Christian Sarkar describes, they might not have built a house for $300 (currently they have houses built for as low as $800), but they have created the energy, passion and platform for others to work.

This project is being pilot tested in Haiti and certain parts of India. In India a team from Mahindra and Mahindra has built the cheapest home and they have built communities in Bihar for flood affected people and in Pondicherry for Tsunami affected people. What an effective way to create innovation? They call it as Reverse Innovation. When more and more people come in with better inputs, the cost will go down. The possibility of a self-sustainable house for the poor could become reality.

For companies, it’s a great way to go forward with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as Christian Sarkar says. Being a student of MBA, CSR is a topic that is discussed in classrooms quite often. Whenever the topic of CSR comes, many of my classmates come up with questions like how can a company really concentrate on something like CSR. We have to give 2% of profit and that’s it. As the people from M&M have shown, it’s more than that. When the society has given so much to you, you need to put in your physical efforts and not just money.

‘Companies that are not good corporate citizens – those that… allow the environment and the community to suffer- are really criminals in the today’s world’ - Ratan Tata

One of my friends was saying that the Government should actively participate in the project. The slum clearance boards are finding it difficult to find solution and these type of efforts can be so efficient. It’s difficult to figure out why the Government is not taking any efforts to contribute to these type of initiatives.

Looking across the various videos regarding $300 project in Youtube, you are really impressed. There is a huge bunch of team working selflessly for the project. As Christian Sarkar concludes, you are much better than many people in the world. Help those people those you are below you.

Happy Reading!!!

P.S: This Post is written for ‘The IdeaCaravan’ contest conducted by Franklin Templeton in association with Indiblogger.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful idea . Hope it becomes true and we help the people below us .


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