The FairBuilding Network, an online platform that brings together buyers and sellers in the bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) construction market, recently launched a new website where social housing developers and non-profit organizations with building projects can connect with product suppliers, contractors, architects, and engineers who are willing to help.
The network is also joining Archify, a platform supporting the needs of product suppliers, design professionals, and end users in the construction industry, this month. Archify users can research, compare, and share design ideas with industry professionals on its website. Features such as mood boards and a library tool that saves one’s preferred products and suppliers in a collection likewise enable users to compose concepts for projects and clients.
“Even before the pandemic, digital innovation has already been the way to go,” said Ayn Rand Parel, administrative manager of FairBuilding Network, in a webinar on September 30.
FINDING NEW MARKETS ONLINE
A September 2018 B2B commerce report by Magento said that 12% of business-to-business sales take place online. The number has been steadily growing—not least because of factors stated in the report such as 42% of B2B companies reporting higher order values from online shoppers. “If you don’t innovate, you rarely survive,” said Archify product manager Mark Bueta.
The BoP, or the poorest two-thirds of the economic human pyramid, is a huge yet unserved segment in construction. “There is an assumption that those who need houses need new houses. The solution for developers then is to build subdivisions, but the reality is that a lot who need houses are incremental builders,” said Jessan Catre, Philippine Shelter Venture Lab country lead of Habitat for Humanity’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. Incremental builders improve their living spaces step-by-step as resources become available.
There is a housing backlog in the low-cost and socialized segments, even as a surplus of housing in the mid-cost to high-end ones exist. Mr. Catre shared that the unserved segment has a US$13 billion market value—untapped potential for investors in the industry.
Matthias Krups, chief executive officer and founder of the BCI Media Group (mother company of FairBuilding Network, which serves as the group’s corporate social responsibility arm), said that the organization is morphing toward a much faster turnaround between homebuilders expressing a construction need and having it served. Noting the pervasive availability of smartphones as well as the usefulness of business models like ride-sharing, Mr. Krups hopes of this goal coming into fruition. “We do see an opportunity to scale things up faster.” — Patricia B. Mirasol