OPIC and Habitat for Humanity partnered together for a public outreach event this week highlighting challenges and opportunities in development related to Habitat for Humanity’s annual Shelter Report. The report, Step by Step: Supporting Incremental Building Through Housing Microfinance, focuses on microfinance in the developing world.
OPIC Executive Vice President Mimi Alemayehou and Habitat for Humanity Executive Vice President Mike Carscaddon opened the event with remarks on how microfinance, particularly through private-public partnerships, can help alleviate poverty and spur development in a variety sectors.
Moderated by Department of Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary of International Development and Debt Policy Alexia Latortue, the panel discussion included Habitat for Humanity International Senior Director of Housing Finance Patrick Kelley, Global Partnerships President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Beckett, Smart Campaign Director Isabelle Barres and OPIC Managing Director of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Financing Loren Rodwin.
The discussion emphasized how microfinance is already an established tool for microdevelopment, and how microfinance institutions can help clients address other basic needs. When discussing OPIC’s investments with Habitat for Humanity and Global Partnerships projects, OPIC Managing Director Loren Rodwin said, “We wanted to see that the benefits of providing capital plus capacity building went beyond microfinance. We wanted to see these benefits addressing other vulnerabilities in people’s lives, such as lack of access to housing, healthcare, and clean energy.”
In addition, the panelists talked through their own experiences working in microfinance and delved into the details about the importance of putting clients first, aligning capital from different sources, and the need for technical assistance to bolster program impact and effectiveness.
OPIC has used innovative financing for microlending in places facing tough development challenges, in order to help people who lacked access to traditional credit. In 2011, OPIC approved a $45 million loan to MicroBuild, an innovative housing microloan fund launched by Habitat for Humanity International. OPIC’s loan will help MicroBuild to expand its housing microfinance lending – a growing impact investment sector that will help thousands of low-income families around the world build, improve, and maintain decent homes.