In collaboration with Social Enterprise @ Goizueta and Hub Atlanta, students are working with Habitat for Humanity.

Roughly 1.6 billion people in the world lack adequate shelter. To address that reality, Habitat for Humanity International is teaming up with students from Goizueta and area universities to deliver clean water, energy-efficient building materials and architectural services to low-income people worldwide.

In collaboration with Social Enterprise @ Goizueta and Hub Atlanta, the first-ever partnership matches 40 undergraduate and graduate students from Goizueta, Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology with Habitat representatives working in 10 countries. After communicating virtually, the teams gathered for the first time on Feb. 15 at Goizueta.

“Shared problems can lead to shared solutions,” noted Peter Roberts, Associate Professor of Organization & Management and head of the school’s social enterprise research center, before discussing the challenges involved in developing viable business plans for the individual countries, including scope, scalability and sustainability.

The teams spend three months over the spring semester drafting strategies to address critical housing needs for families who earn as little as $2 a day, from offering microcredit for home improvements to enlisting the community as a stakeholder. The top plan will receive seed funding from Habitat. Along with providing housing, Habitat works to enable families to acquire better shelter on their own through housing support services.

“The students bring a critical external eye,” said Patrick Kelley, director of international housing finance for Habitat for Humanity International. “It’s an opportunity to bring fresh ideas and an innovative approach.”

Shobhika Dhingra 12MBA visited Nicaragua last year through Goizueta’s mid-semester module and participates in the Goizueta Board Fellows Program, which pairs MBAs with Atlanta nonprofit organizations. A member of the Nicaragua team, Dhingra will help define her group model’s value proposition and target market while remaining sensitive to cultural and language barriers

“This is interesting work that I normally wouldn’t be able to do,” she said. “You’re taking something you’ve learned and turning it into a practical experience.”

– Margie Fishman