Berkeley Team Impresses with Idea to Grow Habitat for Humanity

(L. to R.) Right Matt Chwierut, Janice Yuen, Former President Bill Clinton, Salma Mousallem, Iris Shim, and Ruco Van Der Merwe.


Berkeley MBA students Iris Shim and Janice Yuen, both MBA 12, recently had the chance to make an impression upon former President Bill Clinton and Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus. Yunus, along with the CEO of Habitat for Humanity and a list of NGO executives, served as a judge in the Hult Global Case Challenge, a competition in which Berkeley claimed 2nd place in the housing track. (Clinton was on hand to watch the competition and congratulate the winners.)

Shim and Yuen teamed with three Masters students in city and regional planning: Matt Chwierut, Salma Mousallem, and Ruco Van Der Merwe to win the regional title in this competition targeting global poverty. They took second place at the global finals in NYC on April 26 for their approach to helping Habitat for Humanity International reach exponential growth of 10 million homes in 10 years--and address the increasing lack of adequate housing in the world.

The team’s “Build it Together” initiative would shift Habitat from builder to enabler. “We proposed leveraging Habitat’s amazing brand and sharing its model of community development, inviting other players to the table and orchestrating a network of mass customized community solutions,” says Yuen.

Thousands of students from 130 countries competed in challenge tracks that also included education and energy. Yuen says Berkeley stood out by offering a game-changing organizational shift rather than a single technical solution for isolated regional growth. “Housing providers would be infinitely more impactful in aggregate than they are individually,” Yuen says, adding, "It was an incredible experience to present to some of the greatest movers and shakers of the social impact world."

About The Author

From 2011-2013, Valerie Gilbert focused on sharing stories of Berkeley MBA student achievements and connection to the Haas Defining Principles. At Haas since 2004 and now Associate Director of Content Marketing, she still enjoys revealing the different facets of life at Berkeley-Haas to a variety of audiences.