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1K House & Sustainable Development

Affordable housing is a challenge faced by all countries and societies globally. This challenge is especially prevalent in a developing country such as Kenya where the alternative to home ownership is high rent and unfavourable and unreliable rental agreements. At Orkidstudio we look to implement social change through construction. Our 1k house project looks to provide just this type of catalyst through the teachings of a unique construction technique and skill. To ensure real sustainable change and development are achieved an additional layer of support is required.

The 1k house utilises a construction method that halves the cost of a similar sized dwelling, through the use of earthbags as its main material. However this cost is still too great for the demograph of society that we as an organisation wish to target and support. We aspire for home ownership to be achievable for everyone in society and lowering the cost of construction is only half the battle in ensuring this. We also need to provide support in increasing the income of our target demograph.

We are therefore creating an income generating enterprise to tackle this issue. A cooperative of 15 women that will run the enterprise under the management of Orkidstudio with the goal being that through our support the enterprise will generate enough income to enable fifteen 1k houses to be built, one for each woman.

Agriculture is the second largest contributor to GDP in Kenya and dairy farming in particular is one of the largest industries, contributing 14% of agricultural GDP, with Nakuru itself the fastest growing dairy region. The major hurdles that women in particular face are access to land (often handed down to the oldest son) and access to livestock due to their expense. We are therefore working closely with financial institutions and the regional government to provide a product that will help finance these purchases. This is particularly important as our goal is for the pilot project to be replicated and it therefore needs to be, as the buzzword of the upcoming UN development goals, ‘sustainable’.

Sustainability is key in ensuring economic development. The goal of Orkidstudio is to implement long term social change; this requires the changes to be sustainable. It is why we will be looking to finance the enterprise through existing financial institutions. If we were to seek funding then the next enterprise would also need to seek funding. Through the utilisation of a bespoke financial product there should be no barriers to future enterprises accessing the same funding.

Financing isn’t the only challenge faced in ensuring the project is sustainable. The make-up of the pilot project utilises Orkidstudio as manager of the first enterprise. This provides an easier route of gaining finance, however the project would not be sustainable if Orkidstudio was needed to manage each project. We will therefore train a certain number of the 15 women in the first enterprise so that they can then manage the second enterprise. This will be a recurring training programme in which women from each subsequent enterprise will be trained to manage the next enterprise. Not only does this provide an additional skill set for the women but also ensures that Orkidstudio can walk away from the project and that the enterprises are self-generating.

This is an ambitious project and one in which everyone at Orkidstudio is extremely excited about. Our vision is a network of co-operative enterprises supporting each other and working together to establish new enterprises, with even the potential for enterprises to merge to make that fable leap from a micro/small sized enterprise to a medium sized enterprise which seems to elude so many companies in the developing world.