Can the buy-one-give-one model work for housing?


On a flight to Vancouver, two real estate developers happened to sit next to Toms shoes founder Blake Mycoskie. They started to talk, and had an idea: Could the one-for-one model pioneered by Mycoskie also be applied to housing?

Five years later, the idea is a reality and launching its first partnership in the U.S. Buy a new luxury condo in San Diego, and you can help build a home for a family currently living in a slum in Manila.

“Blake shared with us his philosophy and the social impact behind Toms Shoes, and that inspired Sid and I to explore a one-for-one real estate gifting model,” says Pete Dupuis, who co-founded World Housing with his business partner Sid Landolt in 2013, beginning with a development in Vancouver.

The business model is simple in theory: Real estate developers donate a portion of their marketing budget to the nonprofit, and then the nonprofit creates local factories that build low-cost homes in the developing world.

Each home, which can cost about $5,000 in a place like Manila, is part of a bigger neighborhood with a playground, community garden, and other common areas. “Our mission at World Housing is to create social change by connecting the world to be a better community, so the idea of ‘community’ is foundational to how we think, design, and create our homes,” says Dupuis.

In Cambodia, where the nonprofit has been building homes for the last two years, they’ve partnered with Cambodia Children’s Fund to help provide services like health care, nutrition, and education for residents.

The team’s new project in Manila was inspired in part by a trip Dupuis took to a slum called Smokey Mountain, where about 300,000 people live in shacks in a landfill.

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