Francesco Piazzesi

Founder, Echale a tu casa

Francesco Piazzesi is a social entrepreneur who grew up in Mexico learning about his Italian family’s construction business. He is deeply passionate about home ownership and community building for the poorest of the poor, as one of the main elements to break social vulnerability and poverty cycles. After writing his PhD dissertation on “Sustainable Housing Microfinance Mortgage,” he founded Adobe Homes Aid in 1985, as a non-profit that teaches communities how to make robust construction materials out of 90% natural earth. In 1997 Francesco realised that community building and home ownership requires other components, such as, social capital, financial literacy and credit instruments, so he transformed Eco-Block into the social business Echale a Tu Casa. In 25 years this social enterprise has implemented an effective strategy for social housing for the poor to become owners of structurally sound houses in a cost-effective and sustainable way. Communities engage into a form of micro-construction industry, through which they can generate income and assist in the construction of each other’s homes. This “sweat equity” approach cultivates greater community ownership and instils a sense of pride for self-made communities. Nearly 250,000 homes have been built through Echale across 28 states of Mexico, creating 450,000 jobs and value 1M direct beneficiaries. Francesco has achieved widespread recognition for his work, including the federal government’s National Prize for Housing, Clinton Global Initiative Fellowship, Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Ashoka Fellowship, Katerva Award and World Housing Award. In recent years Echale has started its international expansion in East Africa countries.

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