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How OPIC has helped thousands of families purchase basic homes

Habitat for Humanity, MicroBuild fund, American business, Emerging markets, Overseas, OPIC, Impact investing, World development, Infrastructure, Investments, Political Risk Insurance, Entrepreneurs, Private sector, Finance, Developing countries, Improving, Investing

OPIC’s commitment to impact investing spans many sectors, including affordable housing. Projects OPIC supports have constructed tens of thousands of affordable homes for individuals and families in the developing world, from Latin America to Sub-Saharan Africa, and provided more than 200,000 affordable mortgages in developing countries.

Habitat for Humanity International is a key partner of OPIC, which provides financing to Habitat’s Microbuild fund. Since it was formed in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has helped almost seven million people access basic, affordable homes. While many of those homes were built by Habitat volunteers, Habitat also recognized the need to help people purchase and upgrade existing homes. In 2012, Habitat for Humanity founded the MicroBuild fund to support microfinance lending for housing to people who could not access traditional bank mortgages.

Millions of people throughout the developing world lack access to formal financial services like bank mortgages, but the microfinance lending supported by MicroBuild has helped them access loans and OPIC has helped MicroBuild reach more borrowers. OPIC’s initial $45 million loan to Microbuild in 2012 was followed in 2015 with a commitment for an additional $45 million to support lending to microfinance institutions making housing loans. The nonprofit impact investor Omidyar Network is co-investing in the project.

MicroBuild’s focus on incremental housing solutions has helped borrowers who can rarely afford to construct a completed residence in one step use smaller loans to build or expand a residence over time and address the needs of growing families.

OPIC financing to Microbuild has helped thousands of families in 19 countries from Azerbaijan to Cambodia purchase or improve their homes. In Nicaragua, for example, MicroBuild financing to local microfinance lenders have helped more than 6,000 households and 30,000 individuals build basic homes like the one pictured above, or improve their homes. In Bosnia, this financing has supported loans for about 500 families to make energy efficiency investments such as installing insulation or new windows and doors. And in Cambodia, this financing has supported the construction of improvement of more than 700 homes.

As OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield noted in Microbuild’s 2015 annual report, the impact of this work extends far beyond housing. Providing affordable housing solutions, she said, enables “the poor to save money in safe places and grow small businesses” and empowers women “to play a larger role in local communities.”

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