Translating lived experience into innovation to increase housing equity in Ghana
In 2008 when Patrick Pierson-Prah’s parents, both school teachers, moved from a smaller town to Takoradi, Ghana’s 3rd largest city, they faced an uncomfortable dilemma: Secure shelter by using the family’s available financial resources to pay the equivalent of two years of lease payments upfront or pay for his college fees. Pierson-Prah, a Class of 2021 MBA student at the Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a CASE Scholar, believed that this was a choice no family should have to make.
Sadly, in 2021, over 90% of tenants in Ghana and Nigeria are still asked to pay 1-3 years of rent in advance, before having access to shelter. This reality is both financially and mentally draining for most individuals and families, and these burdensome upfront costs, combined with a housing supply deficit, have created significant social inequity, especially in cities. Additionally, these financial costs can force people to accept sub-standard housing and use any disposable income – that could be used to fund education or other critical needs – for rent.
“My personal experience with the difficult trade-offs families face due to prohibitively high upfront rental costs in Ghana inspired me to learn more about this problem and explore innovative ways to simplify credit risk assessment and increase renter power in Africa’s challenging housing market,” said Pierson-Prah.
Pierson-Prah conducted extensive research along with surveying over 350 renters and landlords throughout Ghana and Nigeria to fully understand the extent of the problem. After confirming that this issue extended far beyond his own experiences, he and a team of fellow MBA students – Lilian Onyekachi Izuorah , Sandeep Panda, and Eric Reynolds – launched Renmo, a credit assessment platform that enables tenants in Africa to rent decent homes using monthly payments. The mission of the company is to give people the financial freedom they need to have better livelihoods.
Renmo is the winner of the 2021 Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) Launch Pad prize, which awards $10,0000 and mentorship to a current Fuqua MBA students with an impact enterprise idea. With Launch Pad support over the next year, the Renmo team plans to launch their minimum viable product, hire operations staff, and gain customer traction, while continuously gathering stakeholder feedback to offer more value to their customers.
“Winning Launch Pad is a game-changer for Renmo. We’re thrilled to use the financial capital to continue to scale, dig deeper into this problem, and create a sustainable solution for African renters – starting in Accra. Plus, with access to the resources and network of the CASE Team, we’re confident this prize sets us up for long-term success!”
Visit our website to learn more about past Launch Pad winners and explore our Scaling Pathways series to learn more about the journeys other impact enterprises have taken to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.