billionBricks: Homes for the Homeless
By late 2018, a Singapore-based non-profit organization, billionBricks, had completed seven projects, rehabilitating more than a thousand homeless and disaster-stricken people in Asia. Its tent product was widely accepted and could, it was projected, meet the needs of millions of homeless people. Despite these achievements, the co-founder and chief executive officer felt that the company's performance had not met his expectations. A key challenge was communicating with those who needed homes: the company's traditional methods of communication were ineffective in reaching out to a marginalized population challenged by illiteracy and access to information. However, the prime minister of India had just announced his ambitious plan to end India's homelessness and sought entrepreneurs for idea generation and execution. Should billionBricks participate in the government housing project to grow its Indian customer base, even if doing so included the risk of potential failure? Or should the company focus instead on other projects and risk being locked out of future housing projects in India? Sarah L. Y. Cheah is affiliated with National University of Singapore.