10 Lessons from Our Founder

1  You can’t teach a mason how to lay bricks by just showing him or her. On-the-job, apprenticeship-type training is the best way to build skills permanently.

2  Homeowner-driven (cash plus technical assistance) approach to housing reconstruction has many advantages over donor/contractor-driven (giveaway) approaches. We knew this 10 years ago. Now it is mainstream.

3  Poverty is a root cause of poor quality housing. We will continue to promote job creation and economic development in the places we work.

4  There is no substitute for local knowledge. Let us never forget the “Learn First” part of our model.

5  Keeping it simple is not so simple. Though we have simplified disaster-resistant construction and made it accessible to everyone, we’re still working on simplifying how we communicate what we do.

6  Government and private sector are both key to scale. They both have a role to play in disaster-resistant housing and schools. Patience and a deep understanding of the market and constraints are keys to success and scale.

7  Preventing a disaster is a lot less expensive than cleaning up after one. And it avoids the indescribable human heartbreak of losing a loved one in a completely preventable building collapse.

8  Leadership takes courage. Courage to make long-term decisions instead of short-term fixes. Courage to stand up to corruption. Courage to admit something doesn’t work and try a new approach. And leadership is needed at all levels, from heads of state to construction foremen.

9  Women can thrive in the construction sector. As engineers, as builders, as building materials producers, as decision-makers, as leaders. Let’s continue to create opportunities for more women in this field.

10  Can one person change the world? No, it takes a team to do that. I am so grateful for the incredible team that has gotten us this far. Please help us grow and expand that team.