Climate Adaptation & Low-Carbon Housing Challenge

Selected

Nelplast

Nelplast retrieves waste plastics from the environment and transforms them into interlocking sand-plastic bricks and paving tiles for low-carbon affordable housing projects in low-income communities.

Team Lead

Nelson Boateng

Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Nelplast Eco Ghana Limited

What is the name of your solution?

Nelplast

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

We retrieve all kinds of waste plastics from the environment and transform them into interlocking sand-plastic bricks and paving tiles for low-carbon affordable housing and construction projects in low-income communities.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Ghana has a massive housing deficit, which currently stands at 1.8 million homes according to a report by the Ministry of Works and Housing. In lower income communities such as Ashaiman where our project is located, this housing shortage has led to overcrowded informal slum settlements that lack city planning and public services. According to reports by the Ghana Statistical Service, 11.2% of homes in Ashaiman have 10 or more occupants per room, with hundreds of residents living in temporary structures or shacks that cannot withstand severe weather, with no electricity, running water or toilets. This exposes the residents to health and environmental hazards including fire outbreaks, spread of diseases and flooding.

In addressing the housing problem, our solution also tackles two other key challenges - environmental pollution and high unemployment rates. 

According to a recent UNDP report, Ghana generates approximately 1.1 million tonnes of plastic waste per year, and less than 5% of which is ever recycled. In Ashaiman specifically, over 50% of all solid waste is NOT collected, 22% of which is plastic and usually ends up in open drains, terrestrial water bodies (lakes, rivers, etc) or in the sea. These cause various environmental problems such as diseases, loss of life and animal diversity and economic hardships.

At the same time, there’s a high level of unemployment especially among women and youth, in low income communities like Ashaiman which though not directly related makes it difficult for most citizens to afford the basic necessities of life including shelter, a home of their own or just a place to live.  

This combination of poverty and adverse living conditions leaves most youth and girls exposed to sexual exploitation and other social vices such as prostitution, armed robbery and drug abuse, resulting in  Ashaiman being tagged as one of the most notorious communities in Ghana’s capital.

In summary, with one solution, we are solving three key challenges simultaneously – the lack of decent affordable housing, environmental pollution, and high unemployment rates in Ashaiman.

What is your solution?

At Nelplast Eco, we bridge the housing gap by producing sand-polymer interlocking bricks and paving tiles, that are over 30% cheaper than traditional concrete alternatives; our products are made from plastic waste which we buy from hundreds of informal waste pickers in our network (90% of whom are women), and to whom we provide sustainable income and skill development opportunities.

Solution to housing issues: We are helping to address Ghana's housing deficit by providing sustainable, affordable, low-carbon houses at about 60% of the average price of housing in Ghana. Our houses are cheaper because our raw materials (plastic waste and sand) are cheaper. Moreover, our houses are environmentally friendly and cheaper to live in, due to the hollow design of our bricks allowing for better insulation which reduces or eliminates the need for artificial cooling, resulting in low energy costs and savings. Due to the interlocking nature of our bricks, they require very little mortar and therefore, less water, and can be built much faster with lower labour costs than traditional concrete brick homes. Our brick and paving tile products, as well as our model home, which was built with no skilled labour, have all been tested and fully approved for construction by the Ghana Standards Authority. Our eco bricks were found to be fire resistant for over 2 hours, and 10x harder and stronger than both concrete and burnt bricks. 

Solution to high unemployment rate: We engage a network of over 300 waste pickers (90% of whom are women), and waste aggregators to collect various types of waste plastics from landfills, inner city slums and factories. We pay cash for the waste they collect by the kilo (now totalling over 300 tons per month) enabling these collectors to earn a living even with no employable skills. Beyond the income from waste plastics, we have also created the first Women Waste Pickers cooperative in Ashaiman bringing these women together as a group to gain access to health insurance packages, loans, training and other benefits that allow them to grow and access various opportunities. We currently employ 57 full time workers, whose functions span from administrative to factory work.

Solution to environmental pollution : In buying plastic waste and transforming them into interlocking bricks, paving tiles and pellets, not only do we reduce plastic waste pollution, but we also inspire behavioural change as people now see waste as a source of income. We are therefore promoting the idea of waste as a resource.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

   Our solution serves various categories of people.

a.     Vulnerable women and youth – Our solution creates job and income opportunities for the vulnerable women and youth in Ashaiman, who are unable to secure job opportunities because they have little to no formal education. These people live in poverty and are left to fend for themselves by any means necessary, exposing them to sexual exploitation and social vices such as prostitution, petty crime, and several forms of danger. Our solution is therefore directly improving the lives of close to 400 people by creating sustainable income and professional development opportunities for them. Beyond that, we have also created the first women waste pickers cooperative that allows these women to come together as a group to gain access to health insurance packages, loans, training and other benefits that allow them to grow and open to more opportunities.

b. The average lower-middle income aspiring homeowner – Our solution also targets lower-middle income Ghanaians who, either live in overcrowded conditions or in makeshift structures due to the large housing deficit in Ghana and its resultant high cost of housing and construction bricks. By providing our homes at a much cheaper price, (60% of the average cost in Ghana), we are bridging the housing gap and giving an opportunity to lower income groups to also live in decent homes and improve their standard of living. 

c. Private sector (businesses) : These include real estate developers, retail outlets, private schools and churches who predominantly buy our paving tiles for paving large courtyards and driveways.

d. Government Agencies and Institutions: These include the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology. Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Tourism, National Theatre of Ghana, National Homeownership Fund and UNDP Ghana.

e. National Home Ownership Fund: This is a Government initiative to address demand sided challenges in the housing market in Ghana through mortgages. Nelplast has signed a contract with them and is currently constructing eco homes for this affordable housing project.

 f. Ashaiman residents : As part of our corporate social responsibility, we have executed several pro bono projects in the Ashaiman community including road repair works, building a bus stop, building the   UNDP canteen, among others which benefits several thousands of the residents in Ashaiman..

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Nelson Boateng, the Founder and CEO of Nelplast Eco Ghana, was born and raised in Ashaiman where our project is located, and has first hand-experience of the poor living conditions in the community. In 2010, he almost lost his life in a flood in Ashaiman, which claimed 17 lives and displaced over 9000 people. Nelson and his family only survived by breaking through the ceiling of their home at midnight moments before it was swept away by the flood. This incident motivated him to probe the cause of the disaster, which turned out to be due to the choking of city drains by tons of plastic waste, and was further exacerbated by weak housing structures that were easily swept away by the floods. Ironically, Nelson himself had worked in plastics manufacturing for over 20 years since the age of 13, starting as a casual day labourer and ending up as a technical engineering supervisor due to his uncanny aptitude for mechanical and electrical engineering. By 2017, after several iterations and experiments he figured out how to create bricks from a combination of sand and plastic waste, through a thermal extrusion process; a multidimensional solution that both reduces plastic waste and provides alternative building materials. He has since won numerous national and global awards and grown into a pillar of the Ashaiman community through his impact and philanthropic works and has built immense trust and goodwill with the beneficiaries of the solution. Nelson handles the technical and operational aspects of our business and still lives in the community.

Our team lead for this application is Carl Acolatse, the Business Development Director and CFO of Nelplast Eco Ghana. Carl is a seasoned development consultant and entrepreneur with over 15 years experience in social development and management in multiple contexts (within large multinationals and small startups) and across three continents (Europe, the US, and Africa). Carl has led waste management, renewable energy and infrastructure projects in Ghana since 2014 and was the project manager for SWEEP Ghana, a utility scale waste-to-energy project that sourced municipal solid waste from major landfills and their surrounding low income communities. He is an expert in building and scaling businesses and has raised over $11m for social impact projects over the past 8 years. Carl holds an MBA from Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands and is a PMI certified Project Management Professional.

Selina Segbefia, founded a development focused NGO in 2019. In 2020, her organization collaborated with UNDP Ghana on their “Waste Recovery Initiative” to raise funds and donate PPEs to waste workers within slum areas in Accra including Ashaiman. Since then she has worked closely with waste pickers in Ashaiman, understood their circumstances and needs, built trust with them and continues to co-create solutions with them. Selina has a Masters in Environment and Development Studies from the University of Leeds in UK. Since joining Nelplast, her knowledge and experience has been valuable to furthering the organisation’s  goals.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Reduce emissions from multifamily housing during construction, operation, and end-of-life while addressing barriers to local adoption.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Ashaiman, Greater Accra Region

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • Ghana

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?

Since 2018, we have sold paving tiles, construction bricks and fully constructed homes to over 120 unique customers, with products made from waste plastics purchased from over 300 informal waste pickers. Our business currently employs 57 full time workers, and several temporary workers, and our pro-bono projects have benefited over 5000 individuals. (Below is a further breakdown of the numbers and explanation);

Waste pickers : (300) - We have purchased waste from over 300 informal waste pickers

Individual homeowners: (95) We have sold our paving tiles and built homes for up to 90 different individuals.

Private sector (businesses) : (10)- These include real estate developers, retail outlets, private schools and churches who predominantly buy our paving tiles for paving large courtyards and driveways.

Government Agencies and Institutions: (8) - These include the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology. Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Tourism, National Theatre of Ghana, National Homeownership Fund and UNDP Ghana who have patronized our paving tiles and bricks

Pro Bono Projects :  (7) - This includes road repair works, building a bus stop, building the UNDP canteen, among others.

In all we estimate that these public interventions have benefited about 5000+ individuals.

Why are you applying to Solve?

While our solution has already made a huge splash in our community, for which we went viral on the internet and received multiple accolades, we believe we can do much more by expanding our manufacturing facility and scaling our business nationwide and even internationally in the longer term. This is where we feel Solve can help us with the strategic, technical, legal and financial support we require to scale our business and thence our impact.

Below is an elaboration of some of our challenges and how we believe Solve can help.

First is technical assistance; Nelplast still uses rudimentary techniques for its brick production and relies unduly on  manpower and physical labour in factory processes which leads to process inefficiency and reduced productivity. We believe Solve can provide access to the technical/engineering support to improve our production equipment to maximise efficiency and productivity. We will also need technical support to identify and implement energy efficient practices or technologies to minimise energy use and reduce costs, and to include alternative green/clean power to further protect the environment. 

Also, we currently run only one production line. With Solve’s financial support, we can purchase more machines to run additional production lines that will help us produce more bricks - we currently have excess demand and nearly a year’s waiting time on new orders for our products. 

We also are struggling with physical space. We currently do not have enough space to store our primary raw materials (sand and waste plastics) as a result, we sometimes have to stop accepting waste a few days into the month because we do not have the space to store it. This could mean that a mother who travelled a long way to our facility to sell her waste has to be turned away and asked to come back later, which we find very difficult to do. 

Finally, we also believe strongly in the idea of partnerships as we have benefited and continue to benefit from partnering with various stakeholders. For instance we have partnered with Nestle Ghana Limited who supply us with their waste plastics for free instead of dumping them at the landfills. Our organisation could use more of such partnerships.

As we continue to grow, we need professional services such as legal support to advise us on complex legal issues surrounding negotiations and transactions with new and existing shareholders. As well as actors in academia and the private sector who will support us with feasibility studies to identify appropriate sites for our activities. Such strategic partnerships could help us leverage on the pool of resources from other actors, reduce the cost of our operations and facilitate our efforts to scale up our impact. Solve is well placed to connect us to such prospective  partners. We believe that collective action is what can help us scale up the impact of our work.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Financial (e.g. accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Carl Acolatse

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Our solution of creating construction bricks from recycled plastics is innovative for several reasons

First is its novelty within our context, as the traditional means of building homes in Ghana typically involves using concrete blocks or burnt bricks. The use of waste plastics to create bricks is a relatively new technology globally, and while some companies in Uganda and Colombia have adopted similar methods, Nelplast is the first and so far the only company in Ghana to offer this solution. Moreover, our technology and processes are proprietary, independently developed by our team in our own factory and quite different from other solutions that create bricks from plastic waste. Our compression mould, cooling technology, and brick design is globally unique, focusing on product durability, affordability, ease of use, and insulation, making it specifically suitable for construction with low skill requirements in tropical climates and reducing or eliminating the need for cooling.

Second is the use of plastic waste as a resource - Our solution has created an innovative and sustainable use for the 200 tonnes of plastic waste generated daily in Ashaiman. We promote the circular economy as we are now redirecting waste that would normally end up in landfills or water bodies to our factory where we transform them into construction bricks. In our processes we implement a zero waste policy as we recycle the leftover bricks used in building and the waste from our manufacturing process back into new eco bricks.

Finally, our contribution to low carbon emissions: Traditional building materials like concrete blocks and burnt bricks require a lot of energy and resources to produce (i.e. water, heat, gravels, cement, sand, labour). These alternatives are not eco-friendly because apart from the energy used in burning bricks, the production of cement, the primary component of concrete blocks, accounts for 8% of global carbon dioxide emission. Our solution on the other hand only requires plastic waste and sand, with small fractions (2%) of other materials. Our approach also incorporates a hollow design which dramatically increases insulation, making homes built with them cooler and reducing or eliminating the need for energy consuming appliances like fans and air conditions. This makes our solution a more energy-efficient and eco-friendly alternative.

Our innovative solution has contributed to providing affordable low-carbon homes at 60% of the average price of a regular home, can last for up to 200 years and withstand extreme weather conditions, is 100% recyclable, reduces plastic pollution (by 300 tonnes of waste per month) reduces resource depletion (of cement, gravel, sand and water) and reduces energy consumption.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

By next year we intend to increase our brick production capacity from 150,000 to 300,000 bricks per annum translating into a 50% increase in the construction of our low carbon homes, to help bridge the housing gap in Ghana. This also corresponds to an increase in our waste collection capacity from 300 to at least 600 tonnes a month.

In the next five years, our goal is to significantly increase our brick production and home construction by up to three times our current production. We also plan to expand our production and construction services to other communities outside of Ashaiman. With more of our low-carbon homes across the country, there will be a significant reduction in the costs of housing and improved accessibility for other income classes. This will reduce carbon emissions, promote sustainability and inclusivity.

Again, within the next 5 years we plan on introducing roofing tiles made from waste plastics - the technical design of the roofing tile has already been done. This new product will further reduce the costs of building and carbon emissions from construction, and further increase accessibility of home ownership to lower income earners, making our low-carbon housing products even more affordable and thus more inclusive.

Moreover, increasing production of our bricks and eco homes as well as producing roofing tiles from plastic waste will simultaneously create more jobs and income opportunities for up to 1000 waste pickers, as we will need to increase our waste collection capacity (1200 tonnes/month) to meet our production needs. We will do this by recruiting more waste pickers and partnering with at least 10 independent waste aggregators and waste collection companies. This will not only increase our waste collection capacity, but also ensure we have a consistent supply of plastic waste to meet our production targets.

Additionally, through our waste pickers cooperative, we will implement a training program to equip up to 50 waste pickers with higher-value skills. This initiative is already being piloted by a gender consultant from "Women in Informal Employment; Globalizing and Organising - WIEGO" to promote inclusivity and empower women.

In summary, our strategy will involve increasing our brick production, building more low-carbon and eco-friendly homes and introducing roofing tiles made from plastic waste, to deepen our environmental and socio economic impacts for women, youth, aspiring homeowners and the nation at large.

Social Impact Objectives
Environmental Impact Objectives

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

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 14. Life Below Water
  • 15. Life on Land
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Our strategy in measuring progress and tracking our performance towards our impact goals includes the following: 

1. Brick production and home construction: We track the number of bricks we produce per day and the number of eco homes we construct using the  following metrics; 

-Number of bricks produced      

- Number of homes constructed

This allows us to measure the progress we are making towards achieving our goal of bridging the housing gap in Ghana and providing decent and affordable homes for Ghanaians.

2. Waste collection volume: We keep daily records of  all the waste brought into the factory and bought from our waste aggregators using the following metrics;

- Tons of plastic waste bought     

 - Tons of plastic waste recycled

This will ensure at every point we are tracking our waste and making sure we are meeting our  monthly targets of collecting 400 tons of plastic waste per month in the next year and 1200 tons per month in the next five years. It will also enable us estimate the amount of waste we are diverting from landfills, water bodies and the environment and achieve our goal of sustainable waste management.

3. Job creation: Another way we measure one of our socio economic impacts is by tracking the number of formal and informal employees in our production value chain using the following metrics

-Number of waste pickers in our value chain      

-Number of full time employees employed in our factory

-Number of consultants engaged in our solution

- Number of construction workers

These metrics will help us ensure we are reaching our objective of  creating more job and income opportunities, and ensuring the community members are self-reliant with steady incomes, increased influence and improved statuses in their communities.

We believe achieving our goals will help us achieve a number of the Sustainable Development Goals. By tracking these metrics, we can evaluate our progress towards our impact goals and make necessary adjustments to our strategies to ensure we achieve our targets and more broadly, the SDGs.

What is your theory of change?

Our theory of change broadly cuts across three main thematic areas and is presented in compact and detailed versions in the tables below. Each table links to a Google slide document for easy viewing and reading.

Compact TOC

Nelplast Eco Theory of Change

Social Impact TOC

Social Impact and Gender Theory of Change

Environmental Impact TOC

Environmental Impact Theory of Change

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The technological tools we use in our production are;

- Sand polymer extruders : These are used for mixing of the plastics and sand into paste-like form with the help of  heating elements.

- Hydraulic Presses : They are used to compact the plastics and sand paste in the mould to produce 60 -100 pieces of bricks per hour depending on brick size.

- Moulds : They are used to design tiles into  different shapes for the customers/beneficiaries

- Cooling systems : Used for for cooling down of the mould by running water through the moulds to keep the paste hardened.

-Mixing Machine : Used to mix the plastics and sand  homogeneously

The production process, is as follows:

  • Quality check plastic and sand: All plastic materials except PVC can be used.
  • Shredding plastic: The plastic is shredded. The max size of the plastic particles is 50 mm.
  • Weighing of plastic and sand. In a weighing station, the plastic and sand are weighted.
  • Mixing: The plastic and sand are mixed by hand with a ratio of 30-70 % where sand is dominant. In this stage, Black carbon and (optional) pigments are also added.
  • Sand-Plastic Extruder: The mix is put into the extruder. In the extruder, the ingredients are heated till 200 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the ingredients are transformed into a paste.
  • Weighing Scale: The paste is weighted again.
  • Moulding and cooling: The paste is collected and transferred into an available moulds. Depending on the size of the mould, the paste is pressed and cooled down between 1 to 5 minutes.
  • Post-processing: The bricks are inspected and excess material is removed.

The production process of our eco bricks starts with cleaning of waste plastics to remove  foreign and unwanted materials and contaminants. The cleaned plastics are then mixed with sand and the oxide pigment, and passed through extruders to produce a molten paste. The paste is then filled into compression moulds and pressed with a hydraulic press. An injection cooling system pushes water through the mould to start cooling and hardening the sand-plastic mix within it. The product is then removed from the  mould, and further cooled in water and air for about six hours, after which it is ready for sale/delivery to customers.

Below is the flow diagram of our production process.

Nelplast Eco Production Flow Diagram


Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Materials Science

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Ghana

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Ghana
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

1. 57 full time staff 2. 300 informal waste pickers 3. 4 consultants

How long have you been working on your solution?

Collectively, for 6 years Nelson Boateng - 20+ years in plastic recycling Carl Acolatse - 9+ years of experience in the waste reuse and recycling Selina Segbefia - 3 years experience working in waste recycling

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Nelplast Eco recognises the value different groups of people bring to the organisation. Our goals are achieved by the collective action of these diverse people. As a result, we are committed to incorporating diversity, equity and inclusivity into our work. We do this through the following ways.

First, we create a safe and inclusive work environment for all of our employees, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender or any other personal characteristic. Our Human Resource Department implements policies and practices that prevent discrimination and harassment. Every staff, once they start working with Nelplast, is provided training on diversity and inclusion as well as the code of conduct of the organisation. We also regularly seek feedback from our staff on their experiences and allow for their inputs on ways to improve.

Also, at Nelplast we are very keen on  increasing diversity in our workforce. Throughout  our value chain, we have different groups of people working for us, most of whom fall within the vulnerable groups. Our  waste pickers include women, men and youth with 90% of them being women. In our factory, we also have 35% of our staff being between the ages of 21- 36. In the factory, which is mostly seen as  a male dominated area, we have trained females and now 22% of the staff are females. Out of 5 managers, we also now have 2 young women in managerial positions. At Nelplast, we make sure to provide equal opportunities for professional development and advancement, and create an inclusive culture where all employees feel valued and respected.

Finally, we strive to address the unique needs and challenges faced by women and other marginalised groups in our work. This is evident in the women's cooperative we have  formed for the women waste pickers. The cooperative seeks to offer support services such as access to healthcare, financial services, training and advocating for policies and practices that promote gender and social equality in the waste and recycling industry.

In summary, our approach to diversity, equity, and inclusivity is grounded in our commitment to creating a fair and just workplace where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed and thrive. We recognize that this is an ongoing process and are continually working to improve our practices and policies to better support our employees and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our industry.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

At Nelplast Eco, we consider ourselves as a profit-oriented social enterprise with 3 core missions:

    • To reduce environmental pollution through material re-use, recycling and upscaling

    • To produce eco-friendly building materials that are affordable to the average Ghanaian

    • To create value and employment for sanitation workers, majority of whom are women

  • Our core value proposition is the production of durable, sustainable and affordable construction bricks made from recycled plastic, for use in affordable housing projects.

  • We produce and sell 3 main kinds of products


    • Interlocking bricks for the main walls of a home
    • Corner pillar molds for corner pillars
    • Pavement tiles for ground paving
  • Our unique selling point is that our bricks are a better substitute for regular construction bricks because they are proven to be 10x harder, waterproof, heat resistant, more durable, reusable and over 30% cheaper than all other existing concrete and cement alternatives.

  • Based on recently conducted research, our customers are predominantly middle income families however we have also sold (mainly paving tiles) to businesses, real estate developers, churches, government institutions, etc.

  • We used to simply sell our products to-order, but have recently also began delivering turnkey home building projects which means that in addition to producing bricks to order, we also deliver home building contracts which are priced inclusive of the bricks, labour and other materials required for a complete home. This helps guarantee and predict product sales and makes adoption easier for our customers. Our customers pay a deposit after a contract is signed before we begin work and the rest of the payments are structured so that our construction costs are always pre-financed. 

  • Today, we have recycled over 1.2 million tons of plastic, produced and sold over 500,000 bricks to over 120 individual customers, completed several paid and pro-bono projects around the city, including the compound of Ghana’s Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, the UNDP canteen, the Action Chapel compound, etc. We currently have overwhelming demand for our home building services with 8 homes under construction and a lengthy waiting time of up to a year for new orders.

  • As a company, we have received several awards such as the GUBA Innovation Technology award, The Green Corporate star award for having sustainability at the heart of our organization, The Africa Innovators for SDG award handed to our CEO by the president of Ghana, The African Trade and Investment Award, and the 2019 SEED Low Carbon Award. We have also been featured on several local and international news platforms including the BBC, DW tv, TV3, Quartz Africa, and Design Indaba.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

Our business was started on the back of a successful plastic pellet recycling business, with an investment of around $300,000 in cash and equipment, and was able to achieve profitability after just 3 years of its new production activities (recycling waste plastics into sustainable building materials paving tiles and eco bricks). However, we currently operate at a very small capacity and require additional investment to scale up our production by a factor of up to 10x over the next 5 years. 

Our plan for financing this growth is to rely on a combination of

  • Retained earnings

  • Grants

  • New equity investments

  • Occasionally, short term debt

We are fortunate to be able to say that our business operations have an average annual EBITDA margin of 20% (before tax, interest, depreciation). And thus far, we have largely reinvested all our profits and any grants and investments received into scaling the business, which is how we have now amassed factory and equipment assets worth over $1m.

Our funding goal over the next year is to raise between $2-3 million through grants, new equity investments and short term debt (in that order) in order to move to a larger facility which we have already secured and to erect a larger more efficient production facility. The goal is to raise about $1m of the required capital through grants and another $1m through private equity investments, and make up for the difference with a 5-year commercial loan facility.

The new capital will be invested in the construction of the new production facility, newer better machinery, multiple production lines, additional research and development for new products such as roofing tiles and construction beams, talent acquisition and human capital development, and market development.

We expect the new equity investments to be paid back within 4-5 years and subsequently return a healthy average net margin of around 20% per annum on annual revenues of around $2-3 million.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Since inception, our business has been capitalised so far through three main sources

  • Owner’s equity invested at inception and over time 
  • Retained earnings from our business operations
  • Grants and awards (both financial and in kind)

Based on our strategic growth plan of 2021, we set a goal of raising $2-3 million in new funding in order to move our production to a newer, larger facility. Specifically, we sought to raise about $1m of the required capital through grants and another $1m through private equity investments, and make up for the difference with a 5-year commercial loan facility.

So far, we have:  

  • Raised about $340,000 in grant funding from the UNDP, GIZ, and Global Affairs Canada among others
  • Retained about $260,000 from our business operations (all of which has been reinvested in the business), and 
  • Have recently secured a $1m loan facility from a local Ghanaian commercial bank, albeit at prohibitive interest rates (due to recent inflation) which we are therefore unlikely to take up, unless we are able to secure a sizable grant that reduces our debt requirement and our overall cost of capital.

Solution Team

 
    Back
to Top