Enterprise group spotlights developing countries’ block-making, building skills

In its continuing effort to build earthquake-resistant houses and change construction practice permanently in earthquake-prone developing countries, Build Change, a non-profit social enterprise based in Denver, announced its Commitments to Action at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting last month in New York. The organization commits to training vocational teachers in earthquake-resistant building techniques in Indonesia and to improving block-making skills in Haiti.

Build Change’s Indonesian effort is based on expanding its program of earthquake-resistant design and construction training to technical high-school students and their teachers in West Sumatra and beyond. Through the financial support of the Caterpillar Foundation, the organization works with teachers and educational institutions to incorporate Build Change’s training courses into the regular school curriculum. Over the next year, Build Change will train, mentor and guide at least 150 instructors to teach the course on their own and mentor these instructors through their training of at least 1,350 students in safe building.

To fund this initiative, Build Change is looking to raise a minimum of $170,000 over the next year to expand the number of teachers reached and begin to develop an internship program.

Build Change’s Commitment to Economic Empowerment in Haiti is based on expanding a successful pilot project with Save the Children that provided technical assistance and training to Haitian owners and workers at concrete block manufacturing facilities. When the pilot project ended in August 2011, Build Change had mentored nine Haitian small and medium enterprise producers of concrete blocks to increase the quality and profitability of their production.

On average, each block manufacturer can produce and sell enough blocks for nine housing units in a month; in a year, 60 manufacturers can sell enough blocks for 6,480 housing units, which could meet the needs of 20,000 people. Since each manufacturing enterprise employs on average 10 workers, the program can also lead to increased incomes of 600 Haitian workers.