When OPIC leadership set out to identify outstanding clients for its inaugural Impact Awards held earlier this month, one award category, Access to Finance, generated a three way tie. This abundance of excellent work underscores how access to finance is a critical part of sustainable development, as well as how great the need is. Millions of people in the developing world do not even have a formal bank account, let alone access to a bank loan to start a small business or obtain a mortgage. OPIC supports multiple projects to equip individuals with some of basic financial tools to help them improve their lives and promote widespread economic opportunity.
One big way to improve access to finance is to provide low-income families the tools to purchase a home. Inter-Mac International Inc. won one of the three Impact Awards for Access to Finance for its work building the award winning Los Castanos de Choloma housing community in a region of Honduras where affordable housing is extremely scarce and many people live in makeshift homes.
With the support of OPIC financing, Inter-Mac constructed a community of basic homes that families can purchase for about $100 a month, an amount that puts the homes within reach of many of the low-income workers who live in the area. While these houses cost about the same as some makeshift structures that lack even running water, they come equipped with running water as well as electricity and sanitary facilities and other amenities including a daycare center, an elementary school, a central park and sports facilities.
“As any homeowner knows, our homes are often are largest assets and they provide a sense of financial security and stability,” said OPIC Executive Vice President Mimi Alemayehou, who presented the award to Inter-Mac.
Inter-Mac President Tom Livelli who accepted the award, noted that OPIC’s support had helped it overcome a common challenge of getting local banks to support low-income residents.
“When banks are funding long-term mortgage loans with short-term deposits, they’re assuming significant liquidity and cash flow risks that are difficult to manage, and often make those loans inaccessible and unaffordable to poor families,” he said. “With OPIC’s source of long-term funding, we’re able to extend mortgage credit on affordable terms, and manage the risk effectively.”