Francesco Piazzesi is a social entrepreneur who grew up in Mexico learning about his family’s construction business. He is deeply passionate about home ownership and community building for the poorest of the poor. After writing his PhD dissertation on “Sustainable Housing Microfinance Mortgage,” he founded Adobe Homes Aid in 1985, as a non-profit that teaches communities how to make robust construction materials out of 90% natural earth. In 1997 Francesco realised that community building and home ownership requires other components, such as, social capital, financial literacy and credit instruments, so he transformed Eco-Block into the social business Echale a Tu Casa.
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- For-profit Social Enterprise
- Cities and Urbanization
- Areas of Impact
- Latin America, Mexico
Echale a tu casa
Echale has devised a housing construction strategy for the poor to become owners of structurally sound houses in a cost-effective and sustainable way. It begins by creating social housing production units that work with a combination of sweat equity and facilitated capital. Echale helps the units create community trusts, creating both financial and social capital. With this capital, and a partnership with the federal mortgage authority, Echale can offer mortgages and financing to community members.
Home ownership, in addition to creating more stable communities, offers the residents collateral and an asset through which they access other opportunities. Echale trains communities on how to create AdoBlocks, which are made from 90% soil and clay, thus reducing waste and creating naturally insulated homes. Additionally, Echale promotes the use of other sustainable technologies (rainwater collection systems, solar heaters, biogas digesters and grey water filtration systems) in its housing construction, promoting ideals of sustainability and environmental preservation through the production process.
Over time, Echale works with communities to form a micro-construction industry for the area, through which community members can generate income and assist in the construction of each other’s homes. This “sweat equity” approach cultivates greater community ownership and instils a sense of pride for self-made communities. Nearly 25,000 homes have been built through Echale across Mexico. Additionally, the process of construction has generated significant income increases for those engaging in the micro-construction industry. Echale hopes to construct 125,000 housing units by 2016.