International Low Cost Home Ownership

Client: International Consultancy on behalf of a Middle Eastern Government

Timeframe: One Month

Project Brief: The consultancy had won a tender to devise a new low cost home ownership product, as part of the government’s strategy to broaden home ownership further down the income scale of its citizens. The consultancy was strong on financial skills, but their client suggested that some external social housing expertise would help them on this project. They didn’t say no, and nor did I when I got the phone call.

My briefing some days later, straight off the overnight ‘redeye’ flight, indicated that my role would be fluid. I’d be working directly alongside one of their consultants within a small team that had already researched international good practice and was now working on financial models to test a range of scenarios that had been proposed in outline to the client. The client ministries of Finance and Housing required fortnightly steering group meetings with senior civil servants and monthly briefings with Ministers, each meeting to be supported by PowerPoint presentations.

How Delivered: My role developed around the evolving needs of the project:

  • Conducting additional international research
  • Contributing ideas and challenge  at team meetings and discussions
  • Using my Excel and budgetary skills to support the financial modelling work, stress testing assumptions and developing charts and graphs to illustrate key relationships
  • Drafting sample brochures, process maps and policies. These included a critically important policy for action on defaulters and foreclosure – potentially a deal breaker because the lending banks needed the certainty of repossession as a last resort, while the local culture and legal system militated against harsh sanctions under almost any circumstances. My solution was a transparently fair and supportive policy in dealing with default, with an ultimate sanction of foreclosure being softened by a rehousing obligation on the part of the state, but in lower quality accommodation. This won the approval of all stakeholders.
  • Using my PowerPoint skills, working on the fortnightly presentation to our client, jointly presenting our work at these meetings and participating in discussions with ministries, banks, legal advisors, etc.

Outcome: The day prior to my scheduled return to UK our ‘big’ meeting with Ministers of Finance and Housing had gone exceptionally well and it seemed that the home ownership model we had proposed would be adopted. It took a long time, but I heard over a year later that the scheme had been successfully launched, to which I was proud to have contributed.