Housing is often proclaimed to be one of the “big three” priorities for low-income households around the world, along with food and primary education. The global population living in substandard housing is 1.6 billion and climbing, especially as the world becomes more urban.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, about 97 to 99 percent of people do not have access to formal financing – credit, savings, mortgages – that can let them start building or improving their homes. Traditionally, they build homes gradually as their resources allow. Housing microfinance, with smaller amounts and shorter repayment periods, is a convenient tool to improve housing conditions and quality of life for the low-income groups.
A Clients Profile Report, produced for the Building Assets, Unlocking Access project implemented by Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, offers a snapshot of housing microfinance clients’ demographics, income, living conditions and typical home improvements done with housing microfinance loans. The project is reaching not only informal workers with unsteady incomes but also salaried employees, the income level of at least 76% falls under US$10 per day and at least 39% falls under US$5. Through client stories we see how housing microfinance helps the clients not only to improve their homes but their quality of life.