November 2010 Archives

November 29, 2010

Buyers Flock To Tiny Homes During Downturn

See this article: Buyers Flock To Ridiculously Small Homes During Downturn >>

The problem I have with these houses is the price: between $20,000 and $50,000; looks like a major reverse innovation opportunity for the $300 House!

November 28, 2010

Why $300? Is it a real house?

Why $300? That’s a question that keeps coming up.

To answer this question, let’s look at what inspired the $300 house. It all started with this video of Partners In Health in action [disclosure: at the time I was putting together a project involving PIH, SELF and the reggae group Steel Pulse at].

Watch Dr. David Walton’s story at the 4:24 mark >>

At 4:57 we see Dr. Walton visit a girl with a heart ailment. She lived, as you see, in a one room hut with 11 other family members. Her house is what started this $300 house idea rolling - first as a blog post, and now as a project to bring together the people and organizations to make it a reality.

So why $300? Three reasons:

1) the Tata Nano was built around the idea that a car should cost $2000/-  They then engineered everything to fit that price point - which in turn forced a lot of innovative design thinking. So our point was that if we set a hard number like $300, well, then we’ll be forced to innovate to meet that number. We’re simply setting a target.

2) We then used an old formula which we used to use when I was a kid in India - anything that cost 100$ in the US, you could get re-engineered for 10$ in India. Following that logic, a $3000 shed available at Sam’s Warehouse should then cost $300 in an emerging country like India or perhaps even less in a poor country like Haiti.

3) Finally, we looked up the cost of what a poor person’s house is in a place like Bangladesh.  From Yunus’ book - where he describes 10 attributes of people who have escaped poverty in Bangladesh - we found an estimate for $370 for a house of  Grameen members who have escaped poverty.

So we set $300 as a target price; for a social business that should be doable.

Now, can we do it? Join us >>

November 27, 2010

The $300 House in Harvard Business Review

The concept of the $300 House owes its genesis to the Harvard Business Review:

We'll talk about further posts as they come on line, and of course, stay tuned for more info (sign up here)!

The $300 House: About Us

$300 House for the Poor

The $300 House was first described in a Harvard Business Review blog post by Vijay Govindarajan and Christian Sarkar.

Initially, we just wanted to put the concept out there, but now, due to the tremendous response, we've decided to see how far we can go toward making this idea a reality.

Our goal is to bring together people, institutions, and businesses in a "creation space" to:
1) turn this idea a reality, and
2) test it out in the field.

In terms of progress, we've just begun:


The following people and organizations are advisors for the project:

Let us know if you want to join the project! [Use the sign-up form at the top-right of this page >>]

JOIN our Google Group here >>

Thanks for your interest and support,

Vijay Govindarajan
Christian Sarkar
Continue reading The $300 House: About Us.