Recently in Social Business Category

January 29, 2014

Whatever Happened to the $300 House?

The Harvard Business Review blog titled Whatever Happened to the $300 House? gives us less than half the story of what's been going on. I'd like to set the record straight for those of you who've asked: "what's going on?"

Here's a chart to explain the journey so far >>

300housejourney.jpg

Part of the confusion stems from the idea of ownership.  You see, the $300 House is not a project with an "owner" per se.  Rather, it's an idea - to get individuals, businesses, and institutions to participate - collaboratively, if possible - to come up with solutions to solving the problem of affordable housing for the poorest of the poor.  

To me what matters is that the journey has actually begun, with individuals, institutions, and businesses working on it at their own pace. Some are choosing to work in an open spirit of collaboration, while others have chosen a more traditional, closed approach. Both are fine. But to say that the only thing that's happening with the $300 House is what's happening at Dartmouth is just missing the boat.  

June 30, 2011

The Mangyan Challenge: A Letter from Ian Fraser

Dear $300 House members,

I have followed with interest your design contest (even submitted an entry) and as the winners are announced I would request you consider an opportunity to field trial a/some most suitable designs in a real world situation.

I am trying to develop a self-help project to provide low cost, suitable housing, and a sustainable job/income for poor people particularly in the Philippines.

mangyan.jpgI am exploring working with a village of Mangyan people in the Puerto Galera area of Mindoro Island and I would ask you consider them as recipients of one or more of the successful design outcomes of the contest.

What I need is simply the design information and rights and a working relationship with the designers of a suitable $300 house that is worth investing over $20,000 to build 60 houses.

I advise that many outcomes could ride on the house design "working" and a lot of goodwill could be won or lost by the results achieved. The 60 houses I propose to build are only a small fraction of what is eventually required.

I am not working with the whole Mangyan population  The group I am working with is only one village and while they are 100% Mangyan people they are mostly in transition from their traditional hill-tribe culture into the today's life, culture and economy of the Philippines . They are maintaining many of their traditional values such as strong village group bonding, sense of culture and community, sharing, hard work and passive nature.

They struggle because of limited educational opportunities in the past but are trying hard to ensure their children receive education, health care and other benefits.

Some are share farming, some making handicrafts for sale in nearby tourist areas and some working as guides and labourers for the resorts and in the town. But, they do it very tough. Their houses are frankly very sub-standard and on a recent visit I was shocked. The photos I have included here are some of the better examples.

Their community is in many other ways very functional - they have a primary school and resident teacher; a church and resident minister/teacher; a community meeting place; limited town water-supply and some solar power.

They appear to have a well organized community management structure - it has respect, authority and is consultative and involving.

The leaders are currently having preliminary discussions regarding my proposal to build low cost houses for each of the 60 families in the village.

I stress this is not a headlong crash into a delicate sociological situation.  The project I propose addresses an immediate needs of a village that is well into cultural transition but struggling with very poor housing. The project treads carefully and only after wide consultation - especially it is lead by the people themselves. They have many advisers as well and I envisage the project will be ongoing for at least three years. The houses however could be built within 6 months - according to the level of local participation. A slower build rate would be desirable to enable training and high levels of villager involvement..

The village is located near an easily accessed major town and in reasonable proximity to Manila the capitol of the Philippines. I am confident that one or other of the major universities located in Manila - such as University of The Philippines, Ateneo De Manila, De La Salle or other would be interested to participate in this project from an advisory and academic point of view.

I have almost certainly secured financial support to build 60 houses with an average cost of $300 i.e. approximately US$20,000. I believe strongly that  other support programs are needed by this community all aimed at creating employment, land ownership and economic sustainability of this group. I am also working on these aspects. For example the villagers needs land to which they have clear title before the houses can be built. This is a priority matter at the moment.

There are many possibilities that can spring from this housing project for this village and in general I can see some very interesting possibilities if there was a house for $300.

About me: I am an Australian and semi-retired; briefly my back ground is as a businessman involved in R&D and manufacture of very advanced scientific components. At the same time I was a senior member of a consortium of Australian businesses that did many small development projects in S E Asia over 15 years (total value ~$150 million) - mainly in Indonesia - such as establishing/upgrading Environmental Monitoring Laboratories, Agricultural Science teaching and research laboratories, Occupational Health and Safety Laboratories.

I am a past Chairman of the Australian Scientific Industry Association, a founding director of the Technology Industry Exporters Group as well as various roles in commercialization committees interacting with universities etc.

Thank you for your time regarding this matter

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ian Fraser
Sydney
Australia

IanFraser [ at ] sydney [dot] net

June 15, 2011

$300 House: Open Design Challenge Winners

winners.gif
What began as a challenge in a blog post on the Harvard Business Review website has resulted in a collection of 300 design submissions from around the world. The $300 House Open Design Challenge is complete, with judges picking their final selections after much deliberation, and an extension, in order to go through the entries in detail.


Winners were selected in combination with votes from the community and a panel of judges comprised of expert designers, architects, and thought leaders. The winners share $25000 in total prize money which includes $10,000 in cash awards to the top 16 placements as voted by the community itself, and $15,000 in scholarships to attend a prototyping workshop for six participants (three selected by the community, and three by the judges panel).

The winners of the prototyping workshop scholarship are (listed by username):

An award of recognition for corporate participation goes to a team from Mahindra Partners - the jurors decided to judge corporate entries separately.


 
"We're delighted by the depth and breadth of the submissions we received," says Vijay Govindarajan, Professor of International Business and the Founding Director of Tuck's Center for Global Leadership. "Hosting this contest on Jovoto's open, co-creation platform gave us a wealth of ideas and identified the people who we believe have the passion, skill, and commitment, to take the project to the next level, prototyping and actually building a $300 house for the poor. We invite all the participants to continue the discussion at www.300house.com."

May 27, 2011

299 Design Ideas for the $300 House

Thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm and support!  VG and I are thrilled to see the creative suggestions and the spirit of co-operation that became more and more evident as the $300 House Open Design Challenge went along. 

Special thanks to the Jovoto team - Nathalie, Nadine, Peter (x2), Bastian, and Shaun at Mutopo for making this happen - without your generosity we'd never have gotten off the ground.  Thanks also to Scott Tew from Ingersoll Rand for your willingness to try this experiment.

Now, let the judging begin!

March 10, 2011

Building a $300 House for the Poor: HBR interviews VG

vgonhbr.jpg

VG explains the rationale behind the $300 House. Watch >>

February 13, 2011

Design for the Other 90%

“The problem is that 90 percent of the world’s designers spend all their time working on solutions to the problems of the richest 10 percent of the world’s customers. A revolution in design is needed to reverse this silly ratio and reach the other 90 percent.”

Paul Polak in Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail

Here are Paul’s 12 steps to practical problem solving for the poor:

  1. Go to where the action is.
  2. Talk to the people who have the problem and listen to what they have to say.
  3. Learn everything you can about the problem’s specific context.
  4. Think big and act big.
  5. Think like a child.
  6. See and do the obvious.
  7. If somebody has already invented it, you don’t need to do so again.
  8. Make sure your approach has positive, measurable impacts that can be brought to scale.
  9. Design to specific cost and price targets.
  10. Follow practical three-year plans.
  11. Continue to learn from your customers.
  12. Stay positive: don’t be distracted by what other people think.


For all the designers out there, these principles should be applied to the design and implementation of the $300 House.  Paul Polak’s approach at D-REV and  IDE is the direction is which Design must go if is to make a difference in the world.

Watch:

January 21, 2011

Alex Fisberg: Snapshots from India and Brazil

The following snapshots are from Alex Fisberg, a Brazilian journalist in India. He sent in the photos to share with folks working on the $300 house.

Alex’s blog - Um Jornalismo Social - is here >>

Scenes from India

alexfisberg_nalgonda1.jpg
alexfisberg_mumbai2.jpg
alexfisberg_mumbai1.jpg


Scenes from Brazil:
alexfisberg_brasil1.jpg
alexfisberg_brasil2.jpg
alexfisberg_brasil3.jpg


An opportunity for the $300 House…

January 8, 2011

Raj Anand: On Converting a Slum to a Sustainable Community

Editor's note: Raj Anand is the President & CEO of Southern States LLC. He shares his thoughts on slum renewal with us >>

Almost all urban areas of the world have slum dwellers, developed countries have slums and developing countries have slums.  The common elements and operations of all such areas can be looked at from a systems science standpoint. 

Essentially in any slum or slum equivalent boundary, each resident is an open subsystem exchanging resources with the larger system at its boundary.  Each subsystem is driven to optimize its own resource exchange with the larger entity at its boundary with limited or no regard for other subsystems in the slum boundary.  This dynamic leads to the creation of a perpetual slum.  Once this dynamic is changed the slum can be transitioned to a sustainable perpetually improving community, with a developed infrastructure. 

The question is then: Change the dynamics to what?

Link the open subsystems of the slum into goal oriented closed slum system which trades resources at the limited interfaces at the boundary with the larger system in an organized way to the benefit of the slum system

How to bring about the change?


  • Map all the resource interchanges between the slum subsystems and the larger system.  This can be done by collecting data of revenue flow into the slum area and revenue outflow from the slum area.
  • Diverting a large part of the revenue flow going out of the slum area to circulate inside the slum area by setting up services needed by the subsystem by the residents of the system ( example if residents are getting al their food supplies outside the system, set up a small food supply business inside the system run by a resident)
What social/political/economic infrastructure is needed? How to develop the social /political/economic infrastructure?

This needs input from social political scientists, the key is to organize as a self directed, sustainable entity with controlled interface with the outside system to move the equilibrium point to higher standard of living.

What physical infrastructure is needed?

Housing, potable water, sewer system, sanitation, toilets, electricity, medical care, education, communications. Prioritize the physical infrastructure needs and find creative way to generate these, for example if the infrastructure element is at the end of the value chain where its value has been exhausted by the larger system it can be recycled into the slum system.

An example of this end of life planned value chain:

If a dual purpose shipping container is developed which maximizes the space usage of trailers, the slum system can provide a service for picking up discarded containers for a fee and recycle them inside the slum system as building blocks for houses.  The residents would actually build the houses.

The shipping containers could be developed and promoted by trucking companies for it would improve their hauling capacity utilization.  This would also save wood and diminish landfill space needed for discarded wood crates.

Each of the other Physical infrastructure needs could also be filled by creative value chain ideas.

Finally, once a self contained community is created it can be relocated as a whole self contained community to a better geographical location if physical improvements or land title is not possible at the current location.

How do we begin?

Let's bring together three coordinated Grad School  Teams to:

  1. Map the revenue flow of the slum & recommend changes for conservation of the value flow inside the slum
  2. Study the existing Social, political ecosystem and recommend changes to build a closed system with limited interfaces with the larger system
  3. Creative value chain ideas to provide physical infrastructure

I'm interested in hearing your feedback in the comments section below.

December 5, 2010

Seth Godin on the Marketing Challenge

From Seth Godin's post in Harvard Business Review:

Triple the U.S. population by three. That's how many people around the world live on about a dollar a day. Triple it again and now you have the number that lives on $2. About forty percent of the world lives on $2 or less a day.

What's that like? It's almost impossible for most of us to imagine. I mean, $2 is the rent on your apartment for about 45 minutes. It buys you one bite of lunch at a local restaurant. And yet, two billion people survive on that sort of income.

In just a few sentences, Seth tells us just what it means to eke out a living at the bottom of the pyramid. 

Read the full post >>

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)!