In 2010 I had a chance to visit the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, the theme was better cities, a few months earlier I had contacted the Mexican government to try to present our 1M planned city in Tijuana, first on its kind in the Americas, they told me that any project needed to pass thru the State Government and that after the earthquake they decided not to participate and focus on recovery efforts.
I contacted the United Nations and we ended up presenting our planned city in their pavilion, I had a chance to discuss our challenges backstage with UN urban development gurus and I learned that the IFC, a branch of the World Bank had an inclusive business program, http://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/Topics_Ext_Content/IFC_External_Corporate_Site/Inclusive+Business to finance projects that allowed low income families to start businesses that served their peers.
We organized a road show with international agencies and development banks in Washington D.C. which led to a US$105M funding by the International Finance Corporation. The project presented was based on an insight after spending time on a pilot program in one of Urbi’s pilot social programs in Tijuana, the answer was in the economic power of thousands of families concentrated in one place, what appeared to be a weakness, “communities” were far from city social infrastructure, was turned into an opportunity, the idea was to sell all commercial land to the homeowners, land that only gained value because their economic purchasing power.
The project I designed and lobbied for at IFC and Urbi was to create a trust fund with Valle San Pedro homeowners as shareholders, the trust will get a loan to acquire all commercial land inside the development at pre-sale prices, part of the land would then be subdivided and sold to convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations and movie theaters, revenue would pay for the loan and build social infrastructure owned by the community.
A day late and a dollar short, the company got a first 70m loan but the project never really took off, Urbi filed for chapter 11 in 2012 due to the damage from 2009 financial crisis and changes in government regulations.
I had fun pitching Shanghai media.