Block by block, by Ricardo Sandoval

Friday, June 24, 2005

[Cemex] set out to study the ?auto-construccion? market ? the do-it-yourself home building business that dominates Mexico?s transitional countryside, where farming no longer yields even subsistence incomes, and in the ad hoc neighborhoods that seem to pop up almost overnight on the fringes of Mexico?s cities. The company put its faith in Hector Ureta, an urban planner by training who believed the company had to radically alter its business model to achieve new sales in marginal neighborhoods.

Under Ureta?s leadership, Cemex found out more than it bargained for ? almost by accident the company appears to have shaped a global model for reaching consumers and clients in previously ignored neighborhoods in the underdeveloped nations around the world. As a result, other companies, including Cemex?s building materials competitors, are planning their own versions of the company?s Patrimonio Hoy ? Personal Property Today ? which combines aspects of microlending and community moneypooling ? to help low-income Mexicans build homes faster and better. And since Cemex makes its building materials easier to buy, the company is moving its products in a market segment it once believed was impenetrable..
Story found here. (686 KB PDF)

Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review