28 February 2020


Housing Micro-credits


Building materials major Lafarge, which is at the forefront of urban metamorphosis has launched its ‘Housing Microfinance Academy’


Global leader in building materials Lafarge, as part of its ambition is to support urban metamorphosis in India has launched the Indian chapter of ‘Housing Microfinance Academy’ in Mumbai.

The Academy will enhance availability of housing credits for the low-to-middle income segment and promote the exchange of information about potential product design, provide funding support and construction designs.

Incidentally Lafarge India provides innovative products and solutions for the local market, while promoting sustainable construction to help build better cities. The company offers comprehensive solutions for housing, road and railroads, infrastructure, and public and private buildings through its Cement, Aggregates and Ready Mix Concrete businesses. It seeks to build real partnerships with architecture firms, structural consultants, contractors and various stakeholders in the construction chain.

The ‘Housing Microfinance Academy’ initiative has been launched in partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. As part of this association, Lafarge and IFC are organising workshop sessions of the Housing Microfinance Academy across the globe; which started with Kenya last year. There are plans to have these academies in more countries in the coming months.

Lafarge implements projects based on sustainable business models. Its Housing Microfinance model is tailored to local conditions and has been successfully implemented to date in more than 10 countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Morocco, Nigeria, Philippines, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Zambia and, more recently, India.

Speaking on the occasion, François Perrot, Director Affordable Housing, Lafarge, said, “Microfinance has to be regarded as a business in order to be sustainable; while also creating a positive social impact. As an involved actor, Lafarge plays two critical roles; namely, providing construction technical assistance to the low-income borrowers and connecting them to our network of reliable building material retailers. Lafarge's technical support and network with material supplying retailers help reduce the risk for microfinance organisations.”

The event was attended by leading housing, mortgage and financial institutions, and the  day-long session covered the role and importance of microfinance for diversifying lending activities; the best practices in housing microfinance in India and abroad. Additionally, means for providing access to affordable designs and construction materials were discussed. A case study from Indonesia brought to light how a construction player like Lafarge could partner with micro-financing organisations in the housing sector and together make affordable housing accessible for the consumers; while also making it profitable for the organisations concerned.

 Participants got the benefit of the concept of creating an ecosystem, which nurtures an environment where all players stand to benefit in the long term. The workshop culminated with participants discussing the need to evolve new business models where housing finance companies, developers and construction companies could collaborate.

Frederic Guimbal, Product Line General Manager – Ready-mix Concrete, Lafarge India Pv t Ltd, shared, “Lafarge has developed affordable housing projects in eighteen countries across the world, and India is one of leading countries where we offer innovative affordable housing solutions. We are also pioneers in creating partnerships with banks and microfinance institutions to facilitate small loans for meeting housing requirements. This session is about sharing best practices from India and across the world to successfully scale up housing microfinance in India.”

Lafarge, a world leader in building materials, started operations in India in 1999. Today, it has an established presence across major cities and towns in India. In terms of affordable housing Lafarge has expanded its expertise with a view to offering affordable housing solutions to populations with low purchasing power. Lafarge's objective is to facilitate access to affordable and sustainable housing for 2 million people by 2020. Across the globe Lafarge's affordable housing programme revolves around a unique project portfolio that extends to regions including North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa or Asia. Since 2013, the Lafarge programme provided access to decent housing for 300,000 people in 18 countries.

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