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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 >>

1 Comment

The idea of a $300 House for the poorest people in Haiti is nothing short of brilliant. So what's the hold up? Has work begun on the design? How do we get involved to help?