Tridealhouse can lift entire region out of poverty

A sustainable house in the shape of a triangle, which provides an answer to twelve of the seventeen sustainable development goals for the inhabitants of slums: this is Tridealhouse. This innovative concept is still in the development phase, but OVO is firmly convinced of its enormous potential and supports the project with a loan and expertise. 

Michel Loots, a doctor with a degree in economics and versed into building techniques, came up with Tridealhouse. Over the past 25 years, he has worked with some 15 UN agencies on best practices and know-how transfer projects to put the sustainable development goals into practice. He designed the 'triangulated ideal house' by combining all known and UN-validated solutions to poverty into one concept. The triangular house is built of concrete and steel and is resistant to extreme drought, rain and to earthquakes. And that is a big difference from the current housing in slums. Moreover, each hut has sanitary facilities, running water and solar-powered electricity. 

Growing and selling vegetables 

What makes it even better is that you can not only live in it, but that the house also guarantees economic independence. The ingeniously constructed sloping walls provide space for growing vegetables in hydroponics. What they cannot consume themselves, the residents can sell. There is also room for keeping animals, which also provides food. "If this can be rolled out on a large scale, that would be just fantastic," says Freddy De Mulder, board member and operations manager of OVO. "It has everything to lift an entire community out of poverty." 

OVO was immediately convinced of Tridealhouse's potential and decided to support the development with a loan worth € 30,000. Freddy: "Since this project is quite different from the social businesses we usually provide loans to, we were a bit worried that we would not be able to secure the financing. But nothing proved to be further from the truth. We were able to raise the € 30,000 entirely from our own volunteers and did not even have to reach out to other sources for it." 


"We raised the € 30,000 without doubts, that is how strongly we believe in this story. In addition to our financial contribution, the designers were particularly interested in our managementexpertise.” 


Freddy himself is one of the investors in Tridealhouse. As former CEO of Opel Antwerp, after his active career, he looked for and found the ideal interpretation of his social commitment at OVO. He was one of the founders of the B2B program and has been investing in projects since the beginning. "I am more interested in the beauty of a project than in the financial risk," Freddy laughs. "It can be disappointing sometimes, but in this case I have every confidence in it. The people behind Tridealhouse, including Eddy De Nil of Caprioolkinderen vzw who introduced the project in Ethiopia, and Roger van Praet who is co-director of Tridealhouse, are very professional. Thanks to the bridge financing, which we provide them together with other investors, they are now producing the first prototypes of the houses here in Belgium. In addition, we assist them with our expertise, including in the field of business plans and approaching financial institutions. The fact that we can also help them with this was a great added value for them." 

Antoine Schockaert, also an investor and volunteer at OVO, adds: "On a monthly basis, a few OVO volunteers put their heads together with the Tridealhouse team. During those sessions, we help them with specific questions. How can they attract the right employees? How do they connect with suppliers of niche materials? What does the ideal legal makeup of Tridealhouse look like? How do they keep the translation from design to production as efficient as possible? Then we give our advice and suggest partnerships with universities and suppliers, for example. Or we share our insights into building information modeling." 

But it doesn't stop there. "We in turn challenge their team. How do you combine cottages with the density of slums? Suppose the project is scaled up to flood-prone areas or countries that frequently experience earthquakes, what impact does that have on the design? By questioning certain things, we want to approach the first phase - the construction of the prototype - as well as possible."  

Oil spill effect 

Tridealhouse is conceptually ready. The developers are still looking for the best possible materials for the most sustainable result, adapted to its destination. Because ultimately the intention is that the houses will be made locally, initially in Ethopia. "That also creates employment because local companies  that produce the various parts of the houses will be created. From OVO, we can also help them start up with loans. The risk for the investor will be low, because the market for these companies is guaranteed," says Freddy.  

"It is my dream that this project succeeds, not only in Ethiopia but also beyond. Through the oil spill effect, new businesses can be created locally that OVO can help start up." 

However promising the project may be, for the time being its success largely depends on the cooperation of the Ethiopian government. The government must give a green light for the use of the land and the financing of a neighbourhood of one hundred houses. The residents would buy the houses with the support of a microloan from the government. After all, today they already pay rent for their slum dwelling while the Trideal House will eventually become their property. In a later phase, the intention is to scale up the project with the financial support of the World Bank. 

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