Kenya is enjoying a sustained period of explosive growth as global industries jostle to capitalize on the country’s 21st century workforce. IBM recognized Kenya’s potential early, and located its 12th global research lab in Nairobi in 2013. IBM Research – Africa is driving innovation in key areas including water, agriculture, transportation, healthcare, financial inclusion, education, energy, security and e-government. Click Here for Article.

IBM helped Builders of Hope to leverage the common techniques it uses in the U.S. affordable housing market while capitalizing on Africa’s rapid adoption of mobile technologies. By allowing users to rate and review services, iBUILD will help consumers become more informed while function as a de facto regulation mechanism. The app will connect consumers with architects, lenders, the construction authority and builders – from construction project design to completion.

By developing this ecosystem and connecting builders, home owners and banks via iBUILD, we hope to:

  • Create construction capacity (through job training and apprenticeship certifications) to help informal builders develop and demonstrate their skills

  • Lower interest rates and expand credit availability by creating standardized construction oversight and transparency tools for banks, builders and home owners

  • Refine construction cost estimates by leveraging iBUILD’s analytics

  • Introduce new lending products for homeowners and builders

IBM has a strong partner in Builders of Hope, which already has established key partnerships with Ashoka; the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology; theNational Housing Corporation, which determines Kenya’s housing policies; the National Construction Authority, which regulates construction; the Kenyan Federation of Master Builders; and several financial institutions.

Working through IBM’s IBM’s On Demand Community, seven IBMers in the Digital Operations Practice led Builders of Hope through the design thinking process. The support was so successful that Builders of Hope won a place for iBUILD at MasterCard Labs’ incubation center in Nairobi. With IBM’s continued support, Builders of Hope and MasterCard Labs will launch a beta version of iBUILD within the coming months.

The IBM On Demand Community team will participate in user design sessions with Builders of Hope, MasterCard Labs and other partners in March. And following iBUILD’s release, the Kenyan government will use it to establish apprenticeship programs for construction workers. We also plan to use iBUILD to help establish new lending and service offerings, such as savings accounts and workman’s compensation, for low-income residents.

Chris Robinson is a Managing Consultant with IBM’s Business Analytics and
Strategy group.

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