Your Details

Your job title:

Björn Söderberg & Bina Shrestha - Co-founders

Your organization name:

Build up Nepal Engineering & Community Impact Nepal

When was your organization founded?

2015: in response to the housing-poverty crisis after the devastating earthquakes in Nepal.

In what city, town, or region are you located?

Kathmandu, Nepal

In what city, town, or region is your organization headquartered?

Kathmandu, Nepal

In which countries does your organization currently operate?

  • Nepal
About You

Why are you applying for The Elevate Prize?

Build up Nepal and Community Impact Nepal are on a mission to break the vicious housing-poverty cycle in rural Nepal through inclusive jobs and safe housing for poor families. This is particularly important right now as COVID-19 has hit the poorest the hardest. Millions of families in rural Nepal are enduring the pandemic in unsafe, unhygienic housing and deep poverty without jobs.

Our model has already delivered proven results in earthquake affected areas: empowering 250 entrepreneurs to create 2600 jobs and build 5500 houses. Winning the Elevate Prize will help us rapidly scale up to meet the urgent need from COVID-19 in poor communities. Funding and support at this time will help us scale up FASTER and with more IMPACT than otherwise possible and unlock bottlenecks to scale:

  • Rapidly scale-up to new areas, establishing micro-enterprises as long-term sustainable engines for inclusive jobs and safe housing in poor communities.
  • Mobilize stakeholders and build supportive eco-system for safe housing, ensuring new enterprises can build, grow, and sustain jobs long-term.
  • Resolve technical challenges and build a team to deliver at scale.

Tell us about YOU:

After the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Björn and Bina (husband and wife) started working to help poor families rebuild. We interviewed many families, and all dreamed of living in a brick house. But very few could afford it.

We started Build up Nepal and Community Impact Nepal to help fulfill their dream. Our mission is to create resilient incomes and build low-cost, safe housing for poor families. We started as a small team helping poor families rebuild after the 2015 earthquake. We quickly realized that the only way to build safe houses and create jobs at the scale required in poor communities is by using local materials and empowering local people. Over the last 5 years we have developed an effective micro-enterprise model using innovative, low-cost technology combined with long-term micro-construction enterprises for safe housing at scale.

Today our team consists of 22 passionate social entrepreneurs, engineers, community mobilisers and builders. We are working to scale our model to respond to the urgent needs from COVID-19 in poor villages. Through a network of 600 self-sustaining micro-enterprises, we aim to build 100,000 safe, low-cost houses and create 5400 inclusive jobs for poor families by 2025.

Video Introduction

Pitch your organization.

THE CHALLENGE

Lack of safe housing is an urgent global problem. In Nepal 28.6% of its 30M population lives in poverty, of which 95% reside in rural areas. 50% of houses do not meet the standards for safe housing, disproportionately affecting women, girls, and children. COVID-19 has hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.

The brick industry is booming in Nepal, creating a unique opportunity to create jobs. But the fired brick industry is responsible for poor working conditions, child labour, and 37% of CO2 emissions from combustion.

The situation is UNSUSTAINABLE and UNACCEPTABLE.

 OUR SOLUTION

Low-cost technology: We specialize in CSEB (Compressed-Stabilized-Earth-Bricks), a recognized disaster resilient and affordable technology that uses local resources as core materials. Using our uniquely effective off-grid machines the cost of a house is reduced by 25%, making the dream of a safe house genuinely affordable.  

Innovative micro-enterprise model: we recruit and empower rural entrepreneurs and communities to start micro-construction enterprises. They invest their own money, hard work, sweat and tears, securing a strong incentive to build and sustain long-term. Track record: Each enterprise creates on average 8-10 jobs and builds 10-20 houses year-on-year with a 75% success rate beyond 2 years

Describe what makes your work innovative.

Our model has innovation and scalability at its core. During the last 4 years we have worked closely with Engineers Without Borders to develop uniquely effective off-grid machines suited for rural areas. We support the entrepreneurs/communities to establish each enterprise as sustainable economic engine, creating jobs, safe homes and development over the long-term. This disrupts the vicious housing-poverty cycle where it is needed the most – in poor, rural villages. There is now a unique opportunity to scale up the model for green, inclusive recovery from COVID-19.

INCLUSIVE jobs. Our experience shows that 90% of the jobs in the enterprises are held by poor people without stable income. Most jobs are held by vulnerable groups and youth including 30% women. Average monthly income for a brickmaker is $203 and $502 for entrepreneurs. In comparison the per capita GDP in Nepal during 2018 was $960 ($80 per month).

Safe, LOW-COST housing. Building a house is the biggest investment a poor family will ever make. A cost reduction of 25% often means the difference of being able to build a 3-room house instead of 2-rooms for a family of eight, or the ability to build a house at all…

How and why is your organization having an impact on humanity?

IMPACT ON HUMANITY: Access to safe, hygienic, affordable homes and a secure job is a fundamental human right and a bedrock for healthy social and economic recovery from COVID-19.

SCALING GOAL: By 2025 we aim to empower 600 enterprises to build 100,000 safe, affordable homes and create 5400 jobs for poor families. We have three strategy areas to reach our impact goals:

  • Rapidly scale-up to new areas, establishing 600 micro-enterprises as long-term sustainable engines for inclusive jobs and safe housing in poor communities. We are currently training 10-12 new enterprises to get started per month. We are doubling our efforts to expand.
  • Mobilize stakeholders and build a supportive eco-system Enterprises needs access to trained masons and endorsement from local government to scale. We are building a supportive eco-system so that safe, affordable housing becomes a real possibility for all.
  • Resolve technical challenges and build a team for scale

TEAM – training for trainers and recruiting key missing competencies, such as mechanical engineer and R&D manager.

R&D – smart solutions to improve quality control at scale and durability of machines with easy to replace spare parts and effective manufacturing.

Select the key characteristics of the community your organization is impacting.

  • Women & Girls
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your organization address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action

Which of the following categories best describes your work?

Other

Please write in the category that best describes your work.

Safe, affordable housing + Livelihoods + Climate Change

Solution Team

  • Mrs Bina Shrestha Co-founder, Build up Nepal Engineering
  • Björn Söderberg Managing Director, Build up Nepal Engineering
 
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