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Homes through Jobs - Delivery of sustainable materials and skills for building pucca (solid + permanent) houses in rural areas

Country: India

Organization: Society for Development Alternatives

2) Focus of activity: Technology

3) Start Year: 1996

4) Positioning in the mosaic of solutions:

  •      Main barrier addressed: Inadequate current product offerings
  •      Main principle addressed: Radically lower the cost of the entire housing delivery process

    5) Description of housing product/service offering: Every family in rural India dreams of a pucca, permanent house. We have worked to fulfill this aspiration by providing affordable ecological building materials and skills. We aim to ensure that the rural poor can affordably access habitats having leak-proof roofs, solid walls, clean cooking spaces, sanitation, water storage and basic work place such as weaving or pottery sheds. We do this by bringing down delivery costs through local enterprise production and supply systems. Technology options developed, packaged and promoted by us fulfill stringent Environmental, Social, Technical and Economic pre- requisites like reduced pollutants and energy usage, high levels of technical performance, using local raw materials and skills so local communities can derive livelihood benefits. Main products developed and packaged into enterprise packages and services • Micro Concrete Roofing tiles • Ferro-cement roofing channels • Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks • RCC door & window frames • Concrete blocks • Eco Bricks using Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln and fly ash technologies • TARA smokeless stoves Housing shortage aspects addressed - Inadequate • technology options for building • skills of artisans and entrepreneurs to deliver the technologies • village household ability to understand their needs and demand the best affordable • local financial institutions • demonstration models for delivery of services Activities for us • Innovate / adapt technology options • Train and support small building material entrepreneurs • Train and certify artisans • Aggregate rural poor in groups and facilitate their economic growth •Connect them to housing finance Primary beneficiaries are the family seeking to upgrade or build and provide the labor; local producer of building material and local mason or artisan. The villagers upgrade existing homes changing one element at a time.A 20 sqm. home can be built in 30 days

    6) Description of innovation: Our approach differs from the existing programs as we provide solutions for affordable housing that are holistic, from the technology stage to the delivery stage. We work on the principle of development and packaging of building technologies that are economically viable, environmentally sound and create sustainable livelihoods. The delivery of these technologies to rural families through a decentralized micro-enterprise route based on local market economies leads to reduction in delivery costs of habitat products and services. The decentralized nature of the delivery mechanism is unique and all the more essential since the “rural market” in India is “scattered, remote and often disaggregated”. The non subsidy based route of delivery lends itself to sustainability in the long run. Since it is small entrepreneur led, it activates the sluggish rural economy. Many innovative technologies have been developed in the laboratories of our country, most of which have even been field tested. However, there are very few technology options that are completely packaged. Often critical elements such as local application of the design and linking of the enterprise with financing agencies are missing. Market and business support services are usually not thought of. What is truly innovative is that the market creation approach to delivery of materials and services ensures the economic sustainability of the micro-entrepreneur, be it a material producer, mason or carpenter. We focus on converting “eco-friendly – sustainable building material production technologies” into viable enterprise packages. These are designed for local use by the rural micro businesses as well as the rural communities.An essential component of our initiative is ensuring close proximity between the supply and demand and converting the need of the rural poor for a pucca house into demand for eco friendly building materials by linking finance.

    7) Benefits to clients: Our initiative reaches the rural population including the low income or marginalized through our micro-enterprise delivery mechanism. The process begins with identification of technologies that add value and result in solid and reliable products required by village households. The technology packages are disseminated to micro and small enterprises with technical, financial and marketing support from a network of support service providers. These sustainable eco-businesses are promoted through the marketing arms of the Development Alternatives Group–TARA, TARA (Gramin) Nirman Kendra, TARAhaat and their partners. TARA markets equipment, provides marketing support and services including verification of the technology package and demonstration of product application. To extend the markets and facilitate the availability of equipment, TARA licenses the manufacture of TARA equipment to reputed machine manufacturers and fabricators. TARA NIRMAN KENDRA–a building centre promoted by Development Alternatives provides building materials locally in the rural region around Jhansi and Orchha towns. It sets examples of quality and efficiency, trains local artisans and maintains a database of trained / certified masons. It undertakes design and construction projects for government and private clients to demonstrate the use of sustainable technologies. It facilitates market creation for the decentralized entrepreneur by priming the rural market. TARAHaat, sets up rural information, training and resource centers. It has initiated IT based enterprise development programs using building material technologies for youth. The final delivery is through the entrepreneur who knows the payment capacity of rural customers and thus keeps margins low, often tunes service costs to suit the payment methods of customers. Using strategies such as extended credit based on seasonality of customer income, barter with old materials etc

    8) Key operational partnerships: Our key operational partnerships have been with: • Enterprise promoting agencies: such as Maharashtra Industrial and technical Consultants (MITCON) • Technology development agencies such as Center for Appropriate Rural Technologies, Mysore (CART) • Technology promoting agencies such as the BPTPC and • District industries sector and banks Partnerships with large housing project initiatives, particularly with the post disaster response projects cater to a large demand for housing in a concentrated region along with availability of funds. They help create visibility and demonstrate potential. The new emerging partnerships are with the Habitat for Humanity International, State Bank of India and District Panchayati Raj departments and the District Poverty Initiatives Program (DPIP) – A World Bank program with the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The program has benefited also from the partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Swiss Agency for Appropriate Technology (SKAT). While the habitat program operates nationwide, its primary area of intervention has been the Bundelkhand region with 7 states of Uttar Pradesh and 6 of Madhya Pradesh the entrepreneurs, NGOs, government agencies, bankers and community groups of this geographical region have been primary partners in design, development and operation of the approach.

    9) Financial model: The finance model avoids dependency on subsidies, we: • support entrepreneurs to access credit and help them to set up their businesses for a token technology fee • train artisans through capacity building funds (usually donor funds) to supply skills to rural house owners & institutional clients. • aggregate families in Self Help Groups, support them to leverage their savings to access housing credit from banks / government social housing schemes. We link SHGs to livelihood sources to enable them to pay back housing loans for a small token fee. The financial model is designed to work on regular credit parameters and not outside support. The banks, donor funds, government and projects are comfortable because technologies & services are proven & certified

              • Costs as percentage of income: 30%

              • Financing: We are rying to access social enterprise venture funds to support our initiative.

    10) Effectiveness

              • Project outcomes: The micro-concrete roofing tile story in India is an example where more than 500 micro-entrepreneurs have set up small businesses in far out remote villages of India supplying tiles and roofing services at reasonable costs to rural masses. In areas such as north Bihar, the technology is truly liberated and large numbers of villages have totally converted to the MCR tile as a viable roofing option. The technology has now been accepted by various district governments in the public sector construction schedules enabling larger use. At Rs. 120,000 per unit, six long term jobs, a small scale business with payback periods of 18 months or less and steady production capacity of 200 tiles a day, this is a role model for livelihood creation through building materials.

              • Number of clients in past year: Learning from MCR, the Eco Kiln technology has over 50 small and medium Eco Kilns operators across India. The CEB technology has been diversified to include fly-ash bricks and has been adopted by over 30 entrepreneurs in its first year of “commerc

              • Percentage of clients that are poor or marginalized: 30%

              • Potential demand: The order of magnitude of potential demand is immense. We have not even touched 1% of the possible rural market yet. With a rural population of about 60 million and almost 15 million houseless and as many who need to repair and upgrade homes wih growing aspiration for pucca homes, we have a potentially huge market for the products and services of the rural enterpreneurs

    11) Scaling up strategy

              • Stage of the initiative: Scaling Up stage.

              • Expansion plan: Over the next three years we aim to further decentralize the production and marketing by creating rural building marts where small entrepreneurs have access to various infrastructural facilities at one location. Product range from the entrepreneurs produce to electrical and plumbing fittings, and services will include training at every level of the value-addition process. Managed by Panchayats, NGOs and small cooperatives, these rural building marts will serve as role models, set quality standards and provide new entrepreneurs materials and services, as well as a market. Such initiatives are at a nascent stage at many locations in India, for eg. Tamil Nadu, where the Panchayat (Kuthumbakam), The Asryaya Building materials and Services bank in Orissa and the TARA Gramin Nirman Kendra in Madhya Pradesh – all having received technical supports from Development

    12) Origin of the initiative: In 1982, Dr. Ashok Khosla, now Chairman, Development Alternatives, in his thesis ‘Technology Research and Develoment Enterprise’ proposed an organisation “to promote socio-economic development through the design, production and mass marketing of certain products, commonly termed ‘appropriate technologies’, needed by the poor.” Thus the Development Alternatives Group was created to comprise three closely linked subsidiary corporations responsible for innovation, manufacturing and marketing. Apart from Dr. Khosla, the core team driving the idea included engineers, architects and scientists like Mr. S. Patara and Ms. Z. Niazi. The habitat sector was identified as having the potential to create a large number of livelihoods besides catering to many basic needs and improving the quality of life.

    Contact Information:
    Zeenat  Niazi
    Program Director, Rural Habitat
    Society for Development Alternatives
    (Non Government)
    B-32 TARA Crescent, Qutab Institutional Area, New Delhi, India - 110 016
    Tel: + 91 11 2613 4103, 2689 0380
    Fax: + 91 11 2680 1521

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    Feedback from Competition Judges Posted November 29 '06, 12:44:46
    Through the judging panel held on September 29th, 2006 the judges reviewed the entries for the Changemakers “Affordable Housing Competition” and would like to pass on this feedback for your entry. Thank you for applying and we are excited to archive your entry to serve as a leading solution for a community of affordable housing innovators. Please continue your great works.

    All the best, The Changemakers Team

    “IThe innovation of this project is less to do with housing and more to do with alternate technology innovation, how to use materials in a novel way. In articulating the project it will be important to make a strong case for what it had to do with housing per se.”

    - Changemakers Affordable Housing Judges: Habitat for Humanity, Ford Foundation, International Housing Coalition, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

    Query Posted February 24 '07, 3:48:12
    Have Your Organization "Micro Business Finance" Program

    - Sarwar Jahan , Research Fellow (Micro Finance), Institute of Bangladesh Studies

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