CEMEX leverages its core business strengths—institutional knowledge and experience, employees’ talent and time, and capital—to support the social and economic development of communities in ways that foster self-reliance and empowerment.
We began developing our signature social enterprise, Patrimonio Hoy, in 1998 with the objective of providing a market-based solution to address the housing needs of low-income families and thereby empower them to improve the quality of their lives. At its most basic, Patrimonio Hoy provides low-income families living in urban and semi-urban areas with access to building materials such as cement, concrete blocks, and steel. Patrimonio Hoy provides these products at average market prices as well as microfinancing, technical advice, and logistical support to assist participants in building their own homes. The program accomplishes this through a collaborative network of local CEMEX distributors; community-based promoters, mainly women trained and empowered through the program who build trust and secure participation of community members; and the families themselves.
In addition to housing, Patrimonio Hoy contributes to the improvement of local public school infrastructure, including classrooms, bathrooms, and sports facilities, with the active participation of the program participants.
Program benefits. The benefits of Patrimonio Hoy accrue not only to the participants but to the community at large and our company. For example, indicators of the success of the program in Mexico alone include the following:
In addition, Patrimonio Hoy contributes to the improvement of local public-school infrastructure, including classrooms, bathrooms, and sports facilities, with the active participation of the program participants. In all, Patrimonio Hoy helps us build long-term relationships and trust within underserved communities and increases our competitiveness within the low-income market segment.
Since the program first began operating in 2000, Patrimonio Hoy has provided affordable solutions to more than one million people throughout Latin America and has enabled more than 350,00 families to build their own homes. Patrimonio Hoy operates through more than 100 centers in Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
The Patrimonio Hoy program has been recognized with multiple awards. In 2006 it received the World Business Award from the International Chamber of Commerce, the Prince of Wales International Business Leader's Forum, and the United Nations Development Program for its support to the Millennium Development Goals. In 2007, it was chosen for the Corporate Citizen of the Americas Award from the Trust for the Americas. More recently, in 2009, it was recognized with the United Nations HABITAT Business Award in the category of accessible housing solutions.
Challenges. Patrimonio Hoy faces two key challenges. The first, which is also a primary goal, is to replicate the model in other developing countries. The second is to integrate social and environmental features. To address these challenges, we have undertaken the following:
Our success with Patrimonio Hoy has spurred the development of other social enterprises that provide market-based solutions to help low-income families to sustain themselves and contribute to the development of their communities.
Read about the UN Habitat Business Award.
ConstruApoyo was developed to help communities respond to Hurricanes Stan and Wilma, which devastated much of Chiapas, Mexico, in 2005. In the wake of these and other disasters, a priority for governments, nongovernmental organizations, and the affected communities is to rebuild quickly, efficiently, and with minimal waste. ConstruApoyo addresses all of these needs, and more.
The program works as follows: Following a disaster, the regional government identifies beneficiaries and provides the funds. CEMEX distributes the funds in the form of debit cards, produces a catalogue of materials at fixed prices, manages the entire supply chain, and reports to the government the results of the program. ConstruApoyo serves as a model of efficiency and transparency in disaster relief: the program speeds the delivery of financial assistance, enables real-time tracking of materials delivery, and provides an audit trail showing how funds are spent.
ConstruApoyo has proved so successful that CEMEX has expanded the model beyond natural disaster relief to other government-subsidized housing and community infrastructure initiatives.
Also begun in 2005, our Lazos Familiares program helps communities build and renovate community institutions and buildings, such as health centers, hospitals, orphanages, and schools. With the assistance of the program’s network of clients and distributors, as well as individuals in the communities, Lazos Familiares has completed more than 15,000 square meters of built or renovated community infrastructure and has benefitted more than 30,000 people.
Mejora tu Calle helps communities and governments work together to improve neighborhoods. Through this program, which unites public- and private-sector efforts to prove a market-based solution to address critical paving needs, we provide microloans to community residents. The residents use the funds to help pay for the paving of streets and sidewalks with cement. By combining community contributions with government funding, most projects are completed in just 70 weeks, rather than the up to 10 years that is more typical in low-income neighborhoods. These paved streets make it easier for people to travel, increase neighborhood safety, and improve access to public services such as electricity, sewage, and transportation. As a result of the program, property values and incomes rise in the communities that Mejora tu Calle serves.
Since the program began operation, more than 35,000 micro-loans have been allocated to finance cement paving of approximately 400,000 square meters, benefiting 7,000 low-income families.
We are seeking to replicate the model within Mexico municipalities whose streets are unpaved, and so the program focuses on municipalities subject to low tax-collection levels and low tariff levels for the delivery of public services. The program could facilitate the paving of 20 million square meters in 50 major cities in Mexico. If the program continues to succeed in Mexico, we can replicate it in virtually any country in Latin America.
In this program, CEMEX partners with municipal or state authorities, as well as NGO’s and communities, to establish community centers where low-income families can temporarily work. Participants produce concrete blocks and other precast products, half of which they can use to build, repair, or expand their homes. Municipal or state governments purchase the other half for infrastructure development. The resulting proceeds are reinvested in the centers to make them self-sustaining. In 2010, we used CPAs to assist the victims of Hurricane Alex in northern Mexico.
Also in 2010, we expanded the CPA program to Colombia, where it is called Bloqueras Solidarias, through a partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). This collaboration allows CEMEX to leverage its investment to help more families and, by extension, their communities. The program not only improves housing conditions but also empowers the community as a whole through the development of relationships with participating local NGOs and government agencies. More than 40,000 families have been assisted through the program.
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