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 www.holdon4haiti.org].
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 >>