The last Empowa update was shared at the end of February, since then we have been busy building out the required framework to scale, developed the necessary blockchain tooling, worked with local partners to deliver on-the-ground housing and promoted the project to increase awareness and grow our community.
In this post, we’ll share what we’ve been working on over the past 3 months. As well as a look into what we will be working on in the coming period.
The Maraza Project
Our local partners have been busy on the ground in Mozambique. Most notable SDU Beira who are the urban development agency established by the Beira municipality to drive sustainable urban development in the city of Beira, Mozambique.
SBU Beira are a key partner in the delivery of the Maraza project and a cosignatory on the agreement signed at the end of last year. You can read more about that announcement here.
Their mandate is to create and implement strategies that will help the city grow and develop sustainably, improving the living conditions of its citizens and attracting investment to the city.
One of the significant initiatives is the Maraza project, a major urban regeneration project focused on transforming the old port area of Beira into a modern, mixed-use development. SDU Beira is leading this project and working with various stakeholders to ensure its successful implementation.
wa3-hectare pilot area prepared with basic infrastructure for the construction of the first buildings of Maraza Residential and Commercial Park.
This 3 hectare area has been prepared with sewage systems (a wastewater treatment plant), access roads, water supply system, public lighting, landfill and demarcation of plots in preparation for affordable housing. All of this infrastructure was financed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Work is ongoing to raise the funding for the construction of the first apartments and to ensure that there is funding for the offtake through the Empowa platform.
It is important to keep in mind that the Maraza project will ultimately see 25 000 families recieve homes. This is a massive undertaking between multiple stakeholders. The project is expected to take at least 10 years to complete with much of the behind the scenes planning required upfront before any homes are constructed.
Invitations and Presentations
World Bank’s Global Affordable Housing Conference
Empowa was invited to present at the World Bank’s 9th Global Affordable Housing Conference. The conference, brought together entrepreneurs, financiers, policymakers, researchers and development partners to discuss innovative ideas and cutting-edge solutions to build and finance affordable and green housing around the world.
The theme of the conference was “Looking Ahead: unlocking access to affordable, green and resilient housing through innovation.” The conference explored how policymakers can support and enable innovation in housing and housing finance, how to leverage technology and data to improve housing delivery and management, how to mobilize private sector investment and partnerships for affordable housing, and how to promote green and resilient housing practices. The World Bank’s Global Affordable Housing Conference attracted over 500 participants from around the world.
You can watch a edit of Glen’s panel discussion below
East Africa Property Investment Summit
Empowa, was also been invited to present at the East Africa Property Investment Summit, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya.
The summit, which was co-located with the EAPI Proptech Forums, is the region’s most influential property gathering, bringing together investors, developers, and property leaders from more than 25 African and international countries. The summit featured keynote speeches, panel discussions, case studies and networking opportunities, covering topics such as market trends, investment opportunities, policy frameworks, technology innovations and green building practices.
The theme of the summit was “Dynamic Frontiers”, reflecting the resilience and potential of the East African property sector. The summit showcased how the region can leverage its strengths and opportunities to attract investment and drive growth in the post-pandemic era. The East Africa Property Investment Summit attracted over 450 participants from around the world.
Climate smart construction and Cyclone Freddy
The recent tropical storm, Cyclone Freddy, wreaked havoc on Beira, Mozambique. However, thanks to our emphasis on climate smart construction, our homes in the area were able to withstand the cyclone and its devastating effects.
While the cyclone resulted in exceptional rainfall and widespread damage to the city, our homes remained intact. The onsite drainage and climate-resilient construction of our housing development in Beira effectively dealt with the excessive rainfall. Our buildings were designed using materials and techniques that are resistant to nature’s increasing forces, enabling them to withstand the impact of the cyclone.
As natural disasters become increasingly common due to climate change, it is crucial to prioritize climate smart construction. By doing so, we can build resilient homes and infrastructure that not only protect lives and property but also contribute to a sustainable future for all.
To see photos of our Beira development before and after the cyclone click here
Empowa was launched to combat the systemic failures that have resulted in a backlog of 50 million affordable homes across the African continent. This mission was recognised by Coinbase when they were evaluating projects for their “Update the System” series. The Empowa episode was uploaded last week. We think the Coinbase team did a great job in highlighting the realities for those excluded from the current financial system. You can watch the episode below.
Empowa Pay Launch
After months of development and collaboration with our service partners Empowa Pay has gone live. Empowa Pay is a critical element in the successful management of the Empowa project. The application allows us to leverage the power of the Cardano blockchain to improve transparency, audibility and day-to-day management of our lease-to-own contracts.
With the launch of Empowa Pay payment data will now be written to the blockchain. This is a major milestone for the project and represents one of the first RealFi use cases for the Cardano blockchain. To find out more about why Empowa Pay is needed to scale our housing project read here.
Back in March, we shared the Empowa Blackpaper a significant development in the Empowa project focused on allowing us to attract significant institutional capital. The Blackpaper outlines both the approach and financial modelling that allow us to unlock the required capital to deliver affordable housing at scale.
Andrew Forson, our Head of Quantitative Analytics and Risk, produced a series of videos that unpack the Blackpaper in detail and highlight how it makes Empowa attractive to investors and what impact this has on our community. You can watch the series of videos here.
You can find out more about our Blackpaper by visiting empowa.io/blackpaper/
To support the approach outlined in the Blackpaper we launched the Empowa Vault. The first version of The Vault has been developed in partnership with Genius Yield. And launched at the end of April. At the time of writing over 25% of the total circulating supply of EMP has been locked for between 3 and 6 months. To read more about The Vault click here.
To find out all the details for locking your own $EMP click here
The Empowa project acknowledges the crucial role of a strong and well-informed community in its success. In recognition of the importance of community support, we launched the Zealy-powered community program to reward and engage its community.
Zealy serves as the operating system for communities, enabling us to outline tasks that support the project and offer XP points as rewards. These points can be earned by completing various tasks, reflecting their value to the project.
The XP points make participants eligible for prizes in planned competitions throughout the year, with different entry requirements based on XP thresholds. Empowa aims to continuously evolve the Zealy project, adding new tasks and competitions to further engage the community. The Zealy page is already live you can view it here, and participants can start collecting XP points by completing initial tasks.
Feedback is welcomed and even rewarded with 5 XP points. With the community’s continued support, Empowa is confident in making a significant impact on affordable housing and the African affordable housing business opportunity worth $1 trillion.
Rolling out Empowa Pay to potential service partners
Expanding Empowa’s presence to multiple service partners across various markets is crucial for diversifying the Empowa project. A vital component of entering new regions is the availability of accurate data, specifically focused on tenants’ ability to fulfill their rent-to-own agreements.
With the introduction of Empowa Pay, we have empowered our partners on the ground to initiate the data collection process regarding affordability, demand, and payment history. This data is essential for mobilizing the necessary funds to launch a pilot project in their respective markets. Given the high demand for utilizing Empowa Pay, our team is actively engaged in onboarding these partners. Currently, we are in discussions with partners in at least four countries who are eager to utilize Empowa Pay to record the crucial data required to embark on the journey of introducing a rent-to-own offering in their respective markets.
Liquidity is key for any investment. Funders are far more comfortable investing in an asset for which they know there is a market should they wish to increase or decrease their position.
While there are plenty of marketplaces for more traditional NFTs, these are not well suited for trading an NFT with the properties of our SDRI NFTs. Given this reality, the team have turned their attention to Empowa Trade a purpose-built platform for trading Empowa SDRI NFTs.
Delivery of Empowa Trade is expected to take 3 months. When combined with the financial modelling from our Blackpaper, The Vault for securing collateral and the ability to capture payment data on the blockchain thanks to Empowa Pay, the Empowa project will be in a strong position to conclude the discussion that is currently underway with institutional investment partners.
If all goes to plan we expect to see further on-the-ground development take place in the second half of 2023, both within Mozambique and hopefully across 2 additional countries for added diversification of risk.
Delivering our first set of 35 homes was critical to demonstrate that our partners on the ground could deliver and to facilitate the capturing of data to demonstrate what we know to be true, those across the African continent are eager to pay for a quality product that is designed and built to fit their reality.
In order to facilitate more significant investment additional thinking and infrastructure was required. This has been the focus of the team are we are happy with the progress made to date. With a strong foundation, Empowa can scale more rapidly and provide a lower-risk investment.
Many organisations have attempted to unlock the affordable housing opportunity in Africa. To date, many have been unable to deliver on their mandate. The level of attention Empowa has received based on our ability to deliver 35 homes is a testament to how broken the current system is and how ready those in the impact investment community are for a new approach. As a project, we are building the foundations to unlock this opportunity and appreciate the continued support of our community in joining our journey.