Mobile app helps families secure property rights
Lucann Paro Hernandez had a stable home in the Colombian city of Medellín, but she couldn’t prove it. Getting the necessary paperwork required trips to many government agencies and a cost of up to $2,500.
According to The World Bank, only a quarter of land parcels worldwide are recorded in systems that cover ownership changes, land divisions and additions. Billions of people like Lucann lack the property rights that would prevent them from eviction, and that would allow them to access government services or bank loans.
Enter Suyo, a Colombian startup with a social cause – to give millions of Latin Americans official property rights, at a fraction of the usual cost. Founded by Matt Alexander and Marcelo Viscarra, and backed by the Harvard Innovation Lab, Mercy Corps and Habitat for Humanity, Suyo provides free property audits to customers, followed by a bespoke solution for securing the appropriate documentation for land parcels, buildings and apartments.
Everything is recorded on a mobile app, including photos of the property, ownership history, testimonials from neighbours and utility and tax receipts. Customers are offered low-interest micro-financing to pay for the work gradually, and Alexander says it can save 40% over current prices.
For Lucann, the service is life-changing. “You cannot imagine. I can now borrow from legitimate sources at reasonable rates to fix my roof and improve my plumbing,” she said. And of course, she can now pass her property on to her children.
Suyo has so far formalised 1,300 properties in seven communities during a pilot in Bolivia, and now operates in Medellín and Cali in Colombia, with plans to branch out across Latin America. “We want to help one million people in five years,” Alexander says.
Image courtesy of Suyo
Last updated: 30th of August, 2016