Gigot Center

Stories of Impact



PFNC Global Communities


El Paso, Texas

Container + Dreams = Home

Social venture builds affordable housing from recycled shipping containers on U.S.-Mexico border

In 2007, Pablo Nava ('08) and his cousin Brian McCarthy entered and won the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies' Social Venture Business Plan Competition with their blueprint for PFNC Global Communities.

PFNC stands for "Por Fin, Nuestra Casa", which is Spanish for "Finally, A Home of Our Own." The company's name reflects their mission: to raise the standard of living for impoverished families by giving them a chance to own simple, affordable homes made from recycled shipping containers. Priced under $10,000 per unit, the 320-square-foot houses are badly needed in Mexican border cities like Juarez.

By their own estimates, which are conservative, Juarez has a housing shortage of 25,000 units or more. Earning an average wage of $2 to $3 per hour, most workers can't find or afford adequate housing, instead building precarious homes in vast slums that lack running water, electricity, sewers and other amenities.

Nava and McCarthy have big dreams for the future. If operations in Juarez succeed, PFNC hopes to spread the model to other Mexican border cities and beyond. "Our five year goal is to build 15,000 homes a year, providing an ultra-affordable solution to as many people as we can in as many countries as possible," says Nava.