iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Sachin Dave, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, June 23, 2011
After the world's cheapest car, India is likely to roll out the world's cheapest housing model costing less than Rs. 14,000, with a touch of Harvard. Mahindra Partners, a private equity arm of the Mahindra group, has conceptualised a $293.7 or Rs. 13,217 house (not including land cost) that could be explored for global commercial application.

Last year, Vijay Govindarajan of Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business along with Christian Sarkar, a marketing expert, had written a blog on the website of Harvard Business Review about the possibility of a house for less than $300. After the post received phenomenal response, a crowd-sourcing forum had announced a $25,000 award for anyone who suggests the best way for its construction.

A team from Mahindra Partners had submitted an entry and has now been invited to the US for a prototype workshop.

When asked if this could mean that Mahindras could foray into the ultra low-cost housing space, Zhooben Bhiwandiwala, managing partner, Mahindra Partners, told HT, "The project is at just at an ideation stage and we will be required to do a commercial feasibility. But if our concept is selected as a feasible option in the US and then there would be a global commercial application."

According to the website, the design of the house should include material that is easily available and affordable in emerging economies such as Africa, India and South America. The Mahindra's low- cost house is made out of bamboo and boasts of safety features apart from solar operated lights.

"The team has conceptualised a development and identity scheme on the lines of the unique identification number where people enrolled in a government database would be eligible for rural financing to build their own homes," said S Mohan Raghavan, team mentor.

Mahindra group is present in real estate through Mahindra Lifespaces, a BSE listed company that has constructed some affordable housing projects.