Tasneem A. Siddiqui

Saiban - Action Research for Shelter
Year founded: 

Saiban provides creative housing solutions to low-income and marginalized populations in Pakistan.

Focus: Homelessness, Housing
Geographic Area of Impact: Pakistan
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 60,000 (2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 165,440 (2008-2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 100%
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum

In Pakistan, as elsewhere in the developing world, the proportion of the urban population living below the poverty line is rising at an alarming rate; its urban population is growing at 3.5% per year. Over 30% of the country’s urban population lives in 'squatter' settlements on public lands, of which nearly 50% are located in the city of Karachi. The unchecked growth of these temporary settlements continues as a result of shortcomings in the housing delivery system and lack of access to affordable land tenure by the poor.

Innovation and Activities
In 1987, Siddiqui conceived the Khuda-ki-Basti approach, helping the urban poor acquire legal titles to residential lots with a minimum affordable down payment. This represented a dramatic departure from the public sector development model, where state-owned land is first serviced with essential infrastructure and then plots are made available for purchase, usually to middle-class residents or real estate speculators. The Khuda-ki-Basti model is more of an informal sector approach, designed to provide greater access and affordability to the poor. The allocation process is problem-free, and plot acquisition is made when payment is received.

Siddiqui founded Saiban to continue the work of scaling and perfecting the Khuda-ki-Basti methodology. At the same time he reactivated the Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority (SKAA), a quasi-governmental agency that regularizes and upgrades squatter settlements. SKAA serves as the link between Saiban and governmental authorities to make the approach sustainable.

Saiban provides poor squatters with access to affordable plots of developed land in several settlements, thus providing secure residential tenure and public utilities in areas where the poor would normally have no access to such property or services. Saiban ensures housing is affordable with flexible payment schedules, and together with other non-profit organizations facilitates key social and economic services to the residents of developed housing communities, including education, healthcare and credit activities.

To date, Saiban has provided housing to over 8,000 families, benefiting about 60,000 people. Upcoming projects will provide housing for another 6,500 families, benefiting an additional 42,000 individuals.

The Entrepreneur
Tasneem Siddiqui obtained his MA in Political Science from the University of Sindh in 1964, and joined Pakistan’s civil service a year later. During his career he served as Deputy Commissioner of Sukkur, Chief Secretary in the Sindh government and Director-General of the Hyderabad Development Authority. He has worked for the last 23 years testing, improving and replicating models to help the urban poor buy land. He is currently launching the Social Housing Company, a for-profit hybrid, which will enable Saiban to purchase land, either from the government or on the open market, and pass on the benefits to the poor.