Habitat for Humanity - Building a Safe Future through Housing Loans

08 March 2023
For International Women's Day 2023 (Wednesday 8th March) we are celebrating the hardworking, resilient women-led households.

Habitat for Humanity's mission is to help families all over the world build and improve places to call home. One JOA funded project currently underway in Nepal seeks to expand and ensure continued access to microfinance and build awareness and financial literacy capabilities of marginalised communities in four districts of Nepal to finance and build safer homes using microfinance loans. This project addresses the critical need to economically empower women and ensure safer housing for low income women.

The case study below highlights Lalita, a project beneficiary, who has benefitted from new housing loans offered by targets Microfinance institutions in the area.

For 51-year-old Lalita Devi Singh, her house is the most beautiful place in the world — a safe and secure place to live and to create precious memories in.

Ten years ago, Lalita joined her local saving and credit women’s group set up through MFI Mahuli Laghubitta. Over the years she has taken seven loans ranging from NPR 10,000 (£61) to NPR 300,000 (£1,830). She said:

“I remember the first loan I requested from as if it was yesterday. I was so nervous; my hands were shaking. With encouragement from the other women members, I asked for a loan of NPR 10,000 (£61) to buy a wood saw machine so that my husband could start his own carpentry business.”

The new carpentry business helped the family generate enough income to pay for their children’s education and to buy 14 kattha (1.2 acres) of agricultural land on which they could grow seasonal crops. Today, the carpentry business and agricultural activities, alongside employment opportunities sought by her sons, is generating a monthly family income of NPR 100,000 £610.

With a healthy income meeting the daily needs of life, plus extra, Lalita’s next goal was to build a safe and stable home. The family were living in a house constructed using mud plaster over untreated bamboo mesh with a CGI roof. During monsoon season, the roof would leak and destroy their belongings. During the summer, the house would be infested with rats and poisonous snakes.

This goal of building a decent home had its challenges. Like numerous low-income families in Nepal, this family was unable to access mortgage loans or housing finance services from the mainstream banking sector. Imagine the delight of Lalita when she learned about the new housing loans being offered by MFI Mahuli Laghubitta through the work of Habitat for Humanity Nepal.

Though a small amount, the loan from Mahuli Laghubitta helped Lalita start a business and construct a new house at a low cost. Her new home currently consists of two rooms and a porch with an option to expand further floors. The house is constructed using rod, concrete, and brick and follows the Nepal Government building code. In the coming years, Lalita and her family plan to apply for more micro-home loans in the future to build a new kitchen, guest room, and rooms for her grandchildren. She said:

“We love our new house. It has ample amount of space for our growing family. My older daughter-in-law has her room, and we are planning to build another room on the upper floor for my younger son and his wife.”

Like Lalita, many more Nepalese women dream of a better life and a safe and home where all members live healthy, productive lives. Access to basic financial products — such as appropriate and affordable housing loan products — is the cornerstone of prosperity. Habitat for Humanity Nepal has been providing technical assistance to help microfinance partners develop financial solutions for low-income households. These market-driven loans give families a chance to access adequate housing, bring greater strength, stability, and self-reliance, and feel empowered.