Médicos de Casas

Médicos de Casas: Professional & technical assistance for improved housing, sanitation and hygiene

Moreno, ArgentinaMoreno, Argentina
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

There are three main areas in our initiative:
1. Professional assistance for home improvements for families living in poverty
2. Bathroom and kitchen improvements to enable access to public sewers and drinking water
3. Based on a local community development model to ensure sustainability

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

Imagine what the world's poorest families houses, especially their kitchens and bathrooms, would look like if they had been built with expert advice from architects and engineers onsite?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The majority of houses in the poor neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires were built precariously by residents without technical or professional advice and with poor materials. This means that even when low income neighbourhoods gain access to infrastructure the houses that make them up are not able to safely connect to public services such as water and sewers because of the poor conditions their homes are in.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our objective is to provide thousands of families living in poverty with professional and financial assistance to make their houses safer and cleaner via bathroom and kitchen improvements so that they can connect to clean water and sewer systems. The residents are invited to participate in the community led project, which is linked with other urban upgrade projects already being implemented in the zone by Fundacion Pro Vivienda Social. In summary, the project seeks to improve housing standards so that when neighbourhoods are connected to public sewer and water utilities the families living in them can connect safely and easily to the new infrastructure.

Awards

1º Mention in "Impactec - Argentines for transformed the future" Contest and our partner Fundación Pro Vivienda Social also won: VIDANTA 2012, Ernst&Young 2013, ASHOKA Changemakers 2010, World Bank Prize 2007
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The vast majority of residents in poor neighbourhoods of Greater Buenos Aires built their own homes with no technical assistance and as a result have poor levels of hygiene and sanitation. This project is innovative in that is gives residents the opportunity to access professional technical assistance and access credit in order to carry out quality home improvements. Our initiative changes the formal structure of the home and enhances the communities capacity to work together to achieve sustainable, long-term development goals in their neighbourhoods.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We are in start-up phase and have launched a pilot project in 10 blocks located in Moreno. We already have funding secured from the CAF (American Development Bank) and the Argentine federal government in order to begin the first phase. The family Home Improvement Trust fund has been formed joining some 10.000 families who have already participated in initiatives led by the Fundacion Pro Vivienda Social. In the future we hope to provide services to some 10.000 families in Greater Buenos Aires. These families are already united in four community trust funds which were created by the Fundacion Pro Vivienda in in order to provide them with access to piped natural gas. Of these 10.000 households 8.000 now have access to natural gas to cook, heat their homes and bathe.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The project will have immediate impact thanks to the existing influence of the Fundacion Pro Vivienda in the area. With the help of other organizations, including: residents, banks, companies, technical high schools, NGOs, multilateral investors and the state we are building a network which will allow us to increase our impact, We hope to reach 10.000 families over the next five years.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We already have secured $US 100.000 in funding from the CAF (American Development Bank) and $1.5 mil in grants allocated from the federal government. Futhermore, we are working on building a line of credit with Banco Supervielle (local bank partner) to help families to access funding in order to carry out improvements in the future.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Médicos de Casas y Fundación Pro Vivienda Social consider access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation to be intrinsically linked to proper housing and sustainable urban development - without them households can not live safe, healthy lives. While other organizations are tackling the problem in Argentina we are transforming a variety of problems into one integral solution which offers families various forms of assistance, including: Finance, technical assessment, community organization and community development programs, as well as new public and private alliances.
Team

Founding Story

The start of Médicos de Casas was the result of many conversations between me and Raul Zavalia, Director of Fundación Pro Vivienda Social. I contacted him because I wanted to do a social business but I was not sure about what problem was big enought to give the social business the chance to scale. Sharing thoughts with Raul I realized about how big the problem was (1 every 3 houses in Argentina is consider to be not acceptable for living) and that I had the chance to adapt a service that was pretty common and necessary for middle / high income sectors - technical advice for building a house - to the low income neighborhoods in order to improve their living conditions. That was my Eureka!

Team

Today I´m leading the project with full time dedication. I have a team of 8 architects that work free lance for projects, 1 designer and 1 commercial responsible. Besides there responsibilities, all of them participate thinking and working to consolidate the structure and methodology in order to be able to grow and attend a big scale. We already work with protocols and standards that helps reaching a quality in every assistance that we give. We have a details profile of the characteristics that the profesional that work with us must have for guaranteeing the technical and the social competencies.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Fundacion Pro Vivienda Social

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder - Director

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Clean Water and Sanitation.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I participated as a social leader in in an inicitative Generacion Universitaria, in association with Ingeniería sin Fronteras for building a Multiple Uses Salon.
Besides that I´m Secretary in San Lucas Foundation. Before founding Medicos de Casas I tried to bring Vision Spring project to Argentina but I have to abort the mission due to some legal restrictions that we have.
I give lessons in the University of Buenos Aires and in some courses of the Goverment both for Entrepreneurs.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Partners: Fundación Pro Vivienda Social.
Mentors: Victor Pietroboni (Owner of a Builder); Nito Anello (Founder of Zafran).