How the ShelterTech Accelerator Programme is helping startups solve India's affordable housing challenge


The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation introduced the affordable housing scheme with the intent to make India slum-free by 2020. However, the current statistics are stark and shocking. The shortage of affordable housing in India is estimated at 10 million homes and according to Deloitte’s Mainstreaming Affordable Housing in India Report, the country’s total urban housing shortage is projected to be about 30 million by 2022. This housing deficit is both quantitative – as new homes need to be built – and qualitative – as existing homes need to be repaired.

In order to create a significant impact, innovative ideas are needed, besides state and central government programmes. It is this set of startups and entrepreneurs – with disruptive solutions for low-income housing – that the ShelterTech Accelerator plans to identify and support.

Helping startups scale in the affordable housing sector

ShelterTech Accelerator is a year-long initiative that focuses on identifying, nurturing and accelerating startups and early-stage companies that are addressing the challenges in the affordable housing sector. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity's Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter and the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), the programme aims to give an extra edge to startups that are on their way to solve India's trickiest housing problems and help them scale to the next level.

The accelerator has partnered with organisations from the affordable housing sector, such as BRICK Eagle, Brigade Reap, among others, who can help the participating startups with access to the right networks at the right time.

Gaps in the housing sector and how startups can help

The programme is focused on affordable housing, and includes broader areas related to low-income housing segment. The core focus areas of the solutions could be in:

1) Help developers scale: In areas with higher land costs, especially in tier 1 and tier 2 cities, developers are the main players. Enablers in this segment would need to focus on the means to increase the volume of construction, enhance sales velocity, offer unique financing models, improve quality construction, and facilitate approvals, clearances and compliance.

2) Improve owner-driven construction: In tier 2 and tier 3 cities and smaller towns, the primary way in which low-income households build and improve their homes is through owner-driven construction. Enablers in this space should focus on the ease of construction solutions such as access to home loans/micro-mortgages/housing microfinance, basic construction management and professional services such as design services, site planning, and more.

3) Enhance livability: Currently, there is very little focus on enhancing the livability of housing communities. Facilitators in this arena must build and enhance homes as an asset for families and contribute to their social and financial standing. They must facilitate adequate social infrastructure, energy efficiencies, water management, and so on.

4) Disrupt existing value chains: Interventions are required in the affordable housing markets, from mobile buildings to container buildings to 3D printing and other techniques already prevalent in the international market. Modes like shared accommodation, shared ownership and rental management are slowly becoming economically viable and scalable alternatives that are disrupting the sector.

Startup founders have the ability to address the above-mentioned gaps with their solutions. Some of the possible areas they can begin to tackle are land titling and construction permissions, technology and new materials, labour productivity and quality, home productivity and livability, design and engineering services, alternative housing solutions, and many others.

Apply for the accelerator programme

ShelterTech Accelerator is designed as a two-batch programme. In each batch, five to six startups will be accelerated over a period of four months. The first batch is scheduled to kickoff in December 2018, while the second batch will kickoff in April 2019. The investor demo day will take place in July 2019.

Who can apply?

If you are a startup or a strong team working on solutions that can solve challenges in the affordable housing segment or in core segments adjacent to affordable housing, you can take part in the programme. Selected applicants would be required to have for-profit business models registered in India and a full-time founding team based in India. While preference is given to startups with existing pilots, those still working on their proof of concept can also apply with enough evidence and details to explain their solution.

Applications will be evaluated based on a set of predetermined parameters, including the strength, feasibility and viability of the proposed solution, the presence of a strong and committed team with relevant skillsets and years of experience. Selected startups will be required to sign a simple contract with CIIE.

Rewards for the home run

There are several unparalleled benefits that can be derived from this initiative. They include access to CIIE's network of over 300 startup founders, customised support in problem-solving, access to equity-free grants and seed funds worth Rs 75 lakh, 15+ domain experts, an opportunity for potential investments as well as global exposure. Global startups interested in solving problems in the Indian market can also participate.

So, what are you waiting for? Head to ShelterTech now and apply. Applications will be open till 11:59:59 PM (IST) of November 2 , 2018.