Francesco Piazzesi is CEO of Échale a tu Casa. Francesco has been in engineering and development of metal mechanic and hydraulic equipment for 40 years. In 1985, Francesco started to provide solutions for affordable housing to the underserved housing population. Francesco is founder of three industrial companies and founder of the National Council of sustainable housing. He is a member of the National Housing Commission. He has received the National Housing Award (2007) and the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 from the Schwab Foundation, and is an Ashoka Fellow.
Échale works with rural families living in precarious conditions and in need of adequate housing, providing support in the construction of homes that offer a safe and secure environment, and building social capital within communities. It is designed to bring community organization to the common practice of self-build in rural areas, by organizing the community into Social Housing Production Units (SHPUs), a group made up of community members and homeowners responsible for the implementation of the self-build process. All construction work is carried out collectively, with neighbors pooling their labor to help each other build their homes.
Échale has provided affordable homes to 30,000 families as well as 150,000 home improvements, creating a social impact for 900,000 people with a USD 65 million economic spill over.
Échale’s approach involves the creation of a housing committee, which holds regular meetings and is tasked with developing the housing program, interacting with other stakeholders and replicating the social franchise. The social franchise replication model is community-based, with local leaders taking on supervisory roles over multiple community construction projects in exchange for a commission.
Échale houses are built using Adoblock, a stabilized compressed earth block mainly made from local, non-fertile soil (90 per cent) mixed with water and cement. The blocks are produced locally by the residents using the Adopress machine. The use of alternative building materials has helped to reduce deforestation for constrution materials and reduces the amount of wood needed by families for fuel.
The Échale homes include a range of environmental features, including rainwater harvesting systems (reducing mains water use by 20 per cent), bio digesters which produce fertilizer and methane gas, wood conserving stoves, solar water heaters, and solar low-energy light bulbs (reducing the use of mains electricity by 10 per cent).