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Hetal Sheth 5/3/22 2:50 PM 7 min read

Case study: Transforming Families with Affordable Housing in Africa

Entrepreneurs who focus on providing affordable and sustainable housing need data to verify the adoption of their product/service to survive and impact data to scale. One such example is a social enterprise focused on affordable housing. Having built more than 80 homes and created more than 2000 jobs in Uganda, it identified a need for leveraging impact insight to make strategic business decisions and scale.

Smart Havens Africa’s data was disconnected across various sources such as CRMs and other survey platforms. It needed integrated data for business intelligence.

   KEY TAKEAWAYS  

  • Consolidating all data into a single data pipeline is complicated and can be expensive.
  • Sopact addressed the challenge of data integration efficiently to save time and money for Smart Havens Africa.
  • Smart Havens Africa has successfully connected data sources and has a dynamic live dashboard for internal and external use. 

 

Need for Affordable Housing

According to United Nations, the absolute number of people living in slums or informal settlements grew to over 1 billion, with 80 percent attributed to three regions: Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (370 million), sub-Saharan Africa (238 million), and Central and Southern Asia (227 million). It is estimated that around 40% - in some cases, 75% - of the population of fast-growing cities in developing countries is housed in squatter settlements without basic services. Adequate housing is a human right, and the absence of it negatively affects urban equity and inclusion, health and safety, and livelihood opportunities. 

Traditionally in a developing country such as Uganda, people build incrementally, as their resources allow, so housing is a process, not a product. As a result, Uganda’s housing situation is characterized by inadequate homes in terms of quality and quantity in both rural and urban areas. By 2022, Uganda’s population is projected to be about 48 million. The population growth is expected to require more than 3 million more housing units. This massive gap denies people opportunities such as higher education, quality health, and economic development

The founder of Smart Havens Africa, Anne Rweyora K. and Will Broad believes that the home is more than bricks and mortar. It is the ticket to education that they could not receive because their parents were spending most of their earnings on a roof over their heads.  This rent poverty is a key reason for them to start Smart Havens Africa, a sustainable social enterprise providing affordable housing in Uganda. They especially reach out to women as they believe that a  safe, high-quality, and affordable home transforms lives. 

For a social enterprise such as Smart Havens Africa, the just intention is not enough. Social enterprises struggle to not only demonstrate the impact of affordable housing on families and communities but use impact data to make strategic business decisions. Sopact has helped bring Silicon Valley technology to impact management and measurement for affordable housing social enterprises. 

affordable housing and economic development - Impact ReportingImage: What are the alternatives to buying a home from Smart Havens Africa? (2021 data snapshot)

Read More: 3 Steps to Move from Shareholder to Stakeholder Impact

The Challenge - Measuring the Impact of Affordable Housing on Families and Communities

Smart Havens Africa (SHA) is a social enterprise committed to transforming lives and building communities. They provide high-quality, affordable housing to historically disadvantaged clients. Based in Uganda, Smart Havens Africa focuses on providing a pathway to homeownership for low-income families, particularly those headed by women. Smart Haven Africa also engages women as their construction worker employees. It provides safe, well-paying, and dignified employment to women who may also become homeowners. Thus SHA has two sets of stakeholders. Construction workers and homeowners. SHA wants to see if its efforts in improving the lifestyle of homebuyers and construction workers are working or not? What is changing?

With the support of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Smart Havens Africa partnered with Sopact to start its Impact Measurement and Management (IMM) journey. 

Impact Data Management of Affordable housing

Smart Haven Africa had a very basic Salesforce system that they manage internally with occasional customization with expensive external consultants. It collects some of the demographic and financial data on Salesforce. Its goal was to build a single system to help collect data from homeowners and construction workers as well as understand the efficacy of their services. To achieve this they needed to:

  • Build out data strategy
  • Prioritize outcomes
  • Identify what data to collect
  • Integrate all data into a single platform (SHA was unaware of this challenge but, it was an ultimate price as part of Sopact engagement)

Access to quality housing is transformative. This transformation begins at an individual level and radiates out to families, communities, and beyond. The two earliest challenges that organizations working to bring transformative change face are,

           (1) not enough data or (2) disconnected data.

Sopact helped Smart Havens Africa overcome both of these challenges.

Read More: 5 Mistakes That Are Stopping Social Enterprise Growth

Data Solutions

 

Identifying and Filling Data Gaps

When Smart Haven Africa built a comprehensive strategy and selected metrics to learn the business and impact insight, it soon realized some data gaps. When an organization takes an Outcome journey, available operational and financial data is not sufficient. Outcome metrics also require stakeholder sentiment. To fill this data gap, a survey with carefully chosen questions was created and executed by Sopact. It helps achieve the ultimate goal for Smart Haven Africa to use have complete impact learnings and grow what is working.

Having the right IMM system in place doesn’t just demonstrate impact but helps social enterprises identify, fill, and learn data gaps to scale. 

Connecting Disconnected Data

Smart Haven Africa like many sustainable social enterprises, uses the Salesforce system to collect operational data. Often such a system collects demographic information at the time of application.  To learn the complete causality of Smart Haven Africa’s affordable housing work, analyzing only survey data or operational data in silos is not enough. We needed to put all the survey and operational data together to have a single source of truth to learn, 

  • Is SHA improving standards of living through homeownership?
  • Are SHA’s stakeholders continue to own their homes by following healthy financial habits? 
  • Is SHA improved the stability of the homeowners? 
  • What is the impact of homeownership on the safety of their lives?

Impact Management App

Image: 2021 Data snapshot from the impact dashboard

The Sopact team connected all the data sources for SHA to not only overcome the challenges of dynamically calculating NPS scoring but also having all the outcomes insight on the dynamic dashboard for strategic decision making. Making such connections requires immense in-house technical expertise or an expensive external data team. Such capacity for social enterprises does not exist but is very critical for its survival. It is a significant contribution of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship to provide unique support by partnering with Sopact. 

Read More: Data-driven, deal-ready: partners aim high with impact management program for 300 social ventures

Lessons Learned-

Social Impact of Affordable Housing

Integrated data for business intelligence.

The process of consolidating into a single data pipeline was complicated and is typically quite expensive. Sopact directly addresses the challenge of data integration. Now, Smart Havens Africa has successfully connected their data sources and has a dynamic live dashboard. 

CEO Anne Rweyora says it “has reduced the effort of continuously measuring impact from a very time-consuming manual process to seamlessly receiving data directly…” An integrated system allows Smart Havens to use technology to learn continuously from their data and make strategic business decisions. This is something that for-profit businesses have prioritized for some time due to greater devoted resources. Sopact is leading the charge to bring this technology to social enterprises and nonprofits.

 

Investors supporting data collection.

Sopact’s partnership with Smart Havens Africa was a result of an initiative by the social enterprise accelerator, the Miller Center for Social Enterprise. This initiative highlights that accelerators and other investors can guide social enterprises by prioritizing impact management and measurement. Providing social enterprises like Smart Havens Africa with the resources to manage data collection, fosters learning capacity and ultimately, growth.

Read More: How does social procurement save corporations from underdevelopment?

Affordable Housing Outcomes

As a result, Smart Havens Africa can confidently demonstrate the impact they are having with clients reporting improved health, safety, wealth, and skills. 

Affordable Housing africa       low income housing examples Impact Report

Image: 2021 Data snapshot from the impact dashboard

  • 77% of stakeholders started saving after joining SHA
  • 96% of home buyers can afford the desired lifestyle
  • 85% portfolio retention
  • 100% first-time homeowners

This has a significant social impact and shows that Smart Havens Africa is truly changing lives.

Affordable housing is a global issue. As we have seen in our work with other organizations such as Capital Plus Financial, social enterprises that measure and manage their impact can help eliminate this social problem.

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Photo: Smart Havens Africa, construction workers.

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Hetal Sheth

The founder of Ektta, and co-founder of SoPact, Hetal holds a deep passion for establishing enduring impact management practices in the social sector to have built-in learning and accountability.