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Habitat For Humanity's ShelterTech Accelerator Ends With Bold Vision For Affordable Housing

A Global Summit held on July 14 topped off Habitat for Humanity's ShelterTech accelerator in Southeast Asia, the 10 startups pitched their work and progress to date, while investors and ecosystem partners wrapped with a critical reflection on innovation in affordable housing markets today. Launched in 2017 with accelerator programs in Mexico, India and Kenya, ShelterTech has grown into a global platform connecting ideas, products and services in affordable housing, with a special focus on solutions that work in a COVID-19 context. ShelterTech aims to make affordable housing a top impact investment category.

Ten SE Asian startups pitched their housing solutions following seven months of support and mentorship by leaders in the technology and impact investment sectors. Hosted by Villgro Philippines & Global Urban Village, 7/14/21. (Habitat.org)
Patti Chu, Mana Impact Partners, moderated a plenary on housing and climate change with panelists Dr. Pablo Jorillo from BASE Bahay Foundation, Zahra Zanjani from CUBO Modular and Soe Win Zaw from Pounamu. (Habitat.org)

Startups from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Singapore were selected for the program in late-2020. In addition to an initial catalytic grant of US$10,000, the ventures completed a seven-month acceleration process, which included learning laboratories, masterclasses on housing and business topics, dialogues with regional investors and one-on-one mentorship with experts from global corporations including Hilti, Dow and Autodesk.

During the pitches, the startups recounted their growth journey since joining ShelterTech and their plans to bring affordable housing products and services to millions of low-income families in the region.

CUBO Modular, which is based in the Philippines and manufactures modular homes out of bamboo, has sold out units of their award-winning homes for the remainder of the year. Sampangan's proprietary "magic box" turns waste into activated carbon which is used to create building materials. This Indonesian startup secured new contracts with the government and is now the largest startup in Indonesia to create more long-lasting products out of waste materials.

"ShelterTech works across sectors, industries and geographies to bring together the most impactful and cutting-edge innovations, to improve housing conditions for low-income families across the globe. We chose 10 startups in the Southeast Asia cohort because we believe they will make significant contributions to addressing the global housing deficit," said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, at the opening of the Summit. Launched in Southeast Asia in July 2020, the accelerator attracted more than 100 ventures, vying for a chance to be part of the world's leading platform for affordable housing innovation.

Reckford's message was echoed by Marco Meyrat, chairman of the Hilti Foundation board of directors, who said "ShelterTech puts housing entrepreneurs at the centre of a highly connected ecosystem, and collaborators who share a passion for revolutionary solutions in affordable housing. This is well-aligned with the Hilti Foundation's commitment to helping identify and catalyze innovative technologies for housing that lay the groundwork for a better future."

Following the Global Summit on July 14, ShelterTech will continue to provide recognition and growth opportunities to startups, while developing its close-knit ecosystem of ventures and partners including national and regional accelerators, in fields including PropTech and smart cities, integrating affordable housing tracks into these programs. To date, ShelterTech has supported more than 60 startups and scaleups worldwide.

ShelterTech is supported by a network of key partners, including Autodesk Foundation, Dow, the Hilti Foundation and the Keith V. Kiernan Foundation, while the Southeast Asian accelerator was run from Manila in partnership with Villgro Philippines and Global Urban Village.

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