Although increasingly difficult and unaffordable, in the Western psyche, the notion of owning a property is somewhat taken for granted. It nestles amidst our subconscious as being standard procedure, a norm, a box to be ticked. And, while the financial barriers to entry will forever remain in place, we at least have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate (no pun intended) those in a position to buy a house. In Africa however, the situation is very different. With its young, dense and expanding population (urbanising at a rate of 23 million per year), there is currently a backlog of 50 million required housing units. To put that in perspective, if these were to be built at a rate of 100,000 a year, it would still take five hundred years to meet the demand. You’d be forgiven for thinking this lack of housing is simply down to poverty, because in essence, the real issue is a lack of infrastructure in the region.
Consider this, 97% of global wealth is held by 30% of the global population, meaning 70% of the planet is economically disempowered. Although Africa has been the recipient of a significant amount of international aid, the money does not always end up reaching its intended recipients. Investment in the region has also been stifled by a series of factors, such as currency depreciation, risk of corruption and legislation to name a few. Owning one’s property is a means of wealth for most people around the world, yet in Africa, only 16% of urban households have a roof over their heads. There are several issues preventing the development of properties in Africa, such as affordability, shortage of building skills and lack of delivery. However, Empowa hopes to change all of that.
Empowa’s Mission to Revolutionize Housing in Africa
Empowa is on a mission to build a decentralized financing platform for affordable housing in Africa. To do this, they will adhere to three key principles, building, community and impact. This is based on the notion that building a house improves safety, health and wellbeing. A stable living environment also improves education. It creates jobs (1 house = 8 jobs) and creates wealth. The Empowa community is an ecosystem in its own right, containing customers, developers, partners and service providers. Empowa will “empower” people through property. They will impact the planet by addressing the fact that the current inequality of wealth is not sustainable. Take Mozambique for instance, which has 600 mortgages in a country of over 30 million people, and mortgage interest rates as high as 32%. By enabling decentralized funding models, Empowa aims to make home ownership more affordable, while also building them in a manner that is environmentally friendly. They have experience in implementing creative on-the-ground African property developments, and large scale software platforms. And, having partnered with key players in the region, such as WADA, Casa Real, ABCD, Easy Housing, Incredible Impact and more, they are in a prime position to achieve their goal.
How Will Empowa Impact the Region?
To put it simply, the Empowa platform will utilize a utility token called EMP, which will allow different parties around the world to utilize the platform, in different ways. Rather than attempting to support many different currencies, EMP will provide a common unit of value, which isn’t impacted by external market forces. EMP tokens are used to purchase Impact Cards, with the amount received contributing towards respective housing projects. The EMP tokens from Impact Card sales are sent to a currency stabilizer (a smart contract on the Empowa platform) that locks them for future use. This smart contract will have a supply of stable coins matching the native currency of the African currency where the respective housing is being constructed. Once a property is developed and the occupants start paying rent, a property manager will deposit the rent into the Empowa platform, using the same local currency stablecoin, along with identity information about the house it was collected for. The smart contract then uses the identity information to attribute the rent payment with the corresponding Impact Cards that funded the house, converting it to the EMP exchange rate recorded at the time the tokens were initially locked. Impact Card owners can then withdraw their returns as they see fit, full details can be found in the following video.
How Will Empowa Succeed?
Empowa’s success in this venture will rely on one fact, that those participating are confident that the on-the-ground delivery of the proposed housing development is viable. By working with a project partner and approved supplier, they will prove that a circular, environmentally friendly and affordable housing project can be implemented. With this in mind, they have identified a housing development project in Beira, Mozambique as a good candidate for proof of concept.
Mozambique is one of Africa’s most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change. Located in the south-eastern coast, it’s constantly exposed to a number of extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and cyclones. The financial sector in this region is hugely undeveloped, and most people have no way of securing a mortgage via a traditional bank. They will partner with Casa Real (a trusted housing developer) and Easy Housing (approved supplier). The overall aim is to develop the first circular and CO2 negative affordable homes in Mozambique, proving market acceptance for this environmentally friendly, cyclone proof form of housing. This will ultimately provide financially excluded people with access to affordable housing. Empowa are requesting that we, ‘the Cardano community’ assist them in this proof of concept stage, which has the overall potential to explode wealth growth across the African continent. To recognise the Cardano community’s contribution to the project, 50 limited edition NFTs will be minted, and all Fund5 voters for the proposal will be entered into a random draw in order to receive one, details of this can be found in their whitepaper. Empowa also has a strong marketing campaign to accompany their proposal, details of which can be found below.
Marketing Campaign and Requested Funds
Realising the impact potential of the Empowa platform is an important step towards achieving real change to the wealth inequality experienced by Africans. Therefore, in the lead up to their token sale they would like to promote Cardano and Empowa, to gain as much exposure as possible.
The Head of PR will coordinate various campaigns, including:
- Creation of Explainer Videos – making the white paper and proposed solution easier to understand.
- Community Interviews – Cardano, the broader cryptocurrency community and beyond
- Charitable Organisations – to encourage traditional donors to support our new innovative approach.
- Developmental Financial Institutions / Corporations / Individuals – who may wish to be seen to be supporting a new and innovative solution.
This campaign will also highlight and promote Cardano, as many outside of the Cardano community may ask why they selected this blockchain over others. Being given an opportunity to talk about the benefits of using Cardano will not only provide confidence to potential supporters, as they learn that Empowa have selected a blockchain built using scientific research and professional development practices (as described in their White Paper), but will also draw their attention to Cardano, if they weren’t previously aware.
Requested funds in USD 60,000, full details of which can be found here.
Solving the Housing Issue Through Blockchain Technology
The share of income a household spends on shelter averages between 30% and 50%, in any society. The UN Habitat estimates that Africans spend more than $330 billion annually on shelter, with little prospect of accessing consumer finance products in order to support this. In the coming years, the need to spend will continue to grow. A Chinese estimate suggests an investment of $1.4 trillion dollars is needed just to plug the affordable housing gap in Africa, and conventional approaches to this problem have not yet worked. What is needed is a sustainable revolution, including a broad system of financial inclusion, financial education, financing and governance. With their vision laid clear, and a dedicated team, it’s hoped that by utilizing blockchain technology, the housing issue in Africa is one step closer to being solved.
If you’d like to know more information or have questions/comments regarding Empowa’s proposal, check out the link. Log in – Project Catalyst (Ideascale.com)