Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Kawayan Collective Agricultural Cooperative

What is the name of your solution?

Starter Home Kit

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Affordable, durable, carbon-sequestering homes and building components made from local treated bamboo.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

The Philippines construction industry has been adding 220,000 homes per year, and still cannot meet demand.  The Philippine Chamber of Commerce reports an affordable housing backlog of 4M units, which makes the low-income or “socialised housing” segment the fastest growing in the country.  Currently 50% of homes are built with resource intensive concrete and imported steel. Yet while bamboo is an indigenous plant of the Philippines, its full potential as a long-lasting, renewable building material has not yet been tapped due to difficulties sourcing, treating and manufacturing the raw material.

What is your solution?

Kawayan Collective produces construction-grade bamboo poles treated to resist mold, insects and made to last 20-30 years, twice the lifespan of raw, untreated poles.  Base Bahay is our first preferred buyer, currently building 500 homes on Negros Island, the third most populated province of the country.

While we can produce 2,000 poles a month with existing wild bamboo stock -- in order to grow our product and design offerings to serve national developers, Kawayan Collective aims to produce 10,000 poles a month in five years with a combination of farmed and wild bamboo stock.  In order to do this without depleting local supplies and flooding smaller markets, our growth model is a horizontal social franchise.

Ultimately, our vision is for every town of the Philippines with at least 3,000 clumps of bamboo within a 20 kilometer radius to have a bamboo treatment facility (just like the corn or rice mill).  These facilities should be locally owned and maintained, but can benefit from aggregated sales, operations and brand-awareness across the Kawayan Collective cooperative network.

Our feature product is the Starter Home Kit, a modular design based on the "Core House" concept as a permanent option for families incrementally building their homes. The kit is 14SQM to start, with expansion options. Costs range from 65,000PHP - 350,000PHP. An entire kit can be assembled and finished in two weeks time.

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

As a rural micro-manufacturer, Kawayan Collective's impact extends along the bamboo value chain in three main categories:

1) Local smallholder farmers and harvesters who know where and how to harvest existing wild bamboo stock so that it is not depleted.  Earning income from a previously overlooked, undervalued material.  With professional training provided by Kawayan Collective, farmers learn the techniques for safe, high quality bamboo pole treatment and value-added production.

2) Worker-owners of Kawayan Collective who have good jobs close to home with the opportunity to advance their skills and earning potential in bamboo carpentry, construction, production management and sales.  More than employees, Kawayan Collective cooperative members have shared equity in a growing business with annual profit-share and member benefits (housing, education, credit) baked into the by-laws of the social enterprise.

3) Micro-contractors and homeowners incrementally building and upgrading their homes to make them safer, more comfortable and durable.  Micro-contractors get hands-on training, site inspection and certification in building with Kawayan Collective products so that they can be confident about how to price and construct a safe bamboo home or remodel for their customers.  Homeowners benefit from a more affordable, safe AND sustainable option for building materials in the market.

According to Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, owner-driven construction or incremental building housing segment is actually the largest housing segment of the Phillippines -- and yet it is the least-served by existing government and private development programs. We have seen this ourselves in a recent local household survey that confirmed 71% own their homes, yet 60% earn less than Php 10,000 per month as daily wage workers in the informal economy.  This means that their homes often start as a mix of found and purchased materials that get slowly expanded and improved upon as funds, materials and skills permit.  With 60% of our homeowners completing home improvements in the last five years and 70% planning more in the next 1-2 years with a budget of Php 20-50K or more. 

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

As a worker-owned cooperative, Kawayan Collective is firmly rooted in the community it serves, stakeholders are shareholders.  We chose this business model precisely because it enables inclusive growth -- locally and nationally and maybe even one day regionally.  

Co-Chair & Production Manager, Marbert Tinguha

One of the first hires of Kawayan Collective crew, Bert has earned his leadership position by vote of his peers and a strong example set by working in every aspect of production. Bert leads by example and keeps a well-organized schedule and team which has grown from 7 to 40 people in four years with an average attendance rate of 102%!

Coop Member & Supply Lead, Julios Claro 

Lead of bamboo purchasing and qualified machinist. Julios has over 15 years experience working with bamboo, on everything from propagation to engineered bamboo production.  The combination of Julios’ deep technical expertise and Bert’s team management skills are building a strong supply chain for Kawayan Collective.

Co-Founder & Architect, Ray Villanueva

Ray is passionate about elevating the role of bamboo as a superior material for housing, education and public facilities. While co-founding Kawayan Collective, he has witnessed how bamboo can be built to last, celebrating both Filipino heritage and sustainable futures. 

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

Support informal communities in upgrading to more resilient housing, including financing, design, and low-carbon materials or energy sources.

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

Dauin, Negros Oriental, Region 7 Visayas

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • Philippines

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization testing a product, service, or business model with a small number of users

How many people does your solution currently serve?

45 small holder farmers/suppliers

36 employees and contractors

18 starter home kit homeowners

15 cooperative members

150+ other customers

Why are you applying to Solve?

In the last four years, despite pandemic and super-typhoons, we have been able to sustain a small and growing business that serves a number of different customers.  Our mantra has been "if we can survive this, this business is going to thrive."  Now, with pandemic truly over – we feel ourselves on that brink -- with a world of possibility ahead of us.  

Solve comes at the perfect time to help us take the next big leap.  Kawayan Collective is a horizontal cooperative -- we need help refining our business model for social franchise partners in every town of the Philippines with at least 3,000 clumps of bamboo nearby has a bamboo treatment facility operating a full capacity, bringing durable bamboo construction materials to the market at scale.  

We need to develop digital tools easily accessible to our micro-contractors who need to prepare foundation works that match pre-fabricated kits and components exactly.  Video shorts and virtual drawings that help the contractor install these homes quickly and correctly.

Research and development of home kits and expansion components is still in early stages - with lots of room to help Kawayan Collective continue to refine and improve on bamboo solutions to conventional construction materials of cement, steel and lumber.

And of course: Sharing the story! How do we reach a wider audience with the happy news that sustainable, affordable, safe building materials are in the market and ready for use.

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

  • Business Model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Financial (e.g. accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. delivery, logistics, expanding client base)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Amy Villanueva, General Manager

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Kawayan Collective is excited to offer affordable homes that redefine the bamboo house as a viable alternative to concrete and steel. 

New homes are being constructed with cement bamboo frame technology (CBFT) as the primary structure of the house. Developed by Base Bahay Foundation for social housing projects across the Philippines, CBFT is a hybrid bamboo and cement plaster wall system that has been proven to withstand typhoon winds and seismic events. Read More Here. Known internationally as the bahareque or wattle and daub construction technique, CBFT has achieved approval by the National Housing Authority through the Accreditation of Innovative Technologies Program (AITECH).

Based on the "Core House" concept, our Starter Kit was developed in response to Typhoon Odette (Dec 2021) as a permanent option for families to restart their housing journey. Concrete foundations are prepared on site by micro-contractors while treated bamboo and wood framed wall and roof panels are prefabricated at Kawayan Collective facilities in Dauin. Once on-site is ready, the kit is assembled within two days.

The standard kit size is 14SQM with options for door and window openings and room/roof extensions.  Custom configurations are available for additional fees.  Costs range from Php 65,000 - 450,000.  The kits have many uses: the start of a new home, beach cottage, ADU/tiny home, storage or office.  We are excited to see how homeowners personalize and transform these homes as their needs change over time. See photo album here for options.

The construction method mimics what is happening with high-tech manufactured homes, using traditional materials locally available in the Philippines.  It is the modern bahay kubo; upgraded bamboo homes designed and treated for durability and comfort in the tropical zone -- using 80% less concrete than conventional hollow-block houses.

The Starter Kit provides homeowners an alternative housing product currently not available -- a complete home for less than half a million pesos, all the while fueling the local bamboo industry and sustainable construction supply.

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

In the next year we will grow our revenues by 20% and open a second branch.  In the next five years, Kawayan Collective will be a nationwide supplier of treated bamboo poles, panels and products with 10 branches located throughout the Philippines, close to bamboo supply and markets of 200,000+ people.  200+ cooperative members that includes production staff, bamboo suppliers and micro-contractors who specialize in cement-bamboo-frame housing.  We will have built our first 500 carbon-offsetting homes.

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

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 15. Life on Land
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

# of cooperative members

Php income increase for employee households

Home improvements for employee households

# of farmer-suppliers

# of certified micro-contractors

# of Starter Kits built and occupied as primary residences

Gender balance on staff

# of social franchise branches

What is your theory of change?

I am unsure how to answer. Will enroll in course if we are selected -- sounds like a good outcome for the Solver Program.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

For this section we show excerpts from an excellent research paper published by INBAR, 2016 on Engineered Bahareque Housing (known in the Philippines as Cement Bamboo Frame Technology):  

"Engineered bahareque houses have successfully been constructed in various countries around the world, including: Costa Rica, Colombia, Nepal, Ecuador, El Salvador, and The Philippines. When properly designed and built, they have demonstrated their effectiveness as an affordable, hazard-resilient, safe, and durable form of housing.

Engineered bahareque housing is a strong and robust construction system, which can be designed to resist earthquakes and strong winds in even the most hazardous regions of the world. 

Engineered bahareque housing is safe to construct and uses no toxic chemicals, can be constructed by the beneficiaries themselves, does not require significant maintenance, and has been shown to be very popular with beneficiaries in many case studies. It can provide a hygienic, safe, durable and thermally-comfortable home."

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks
  • GIS and Geospatial Technology
  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Materials Science

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Philippines

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

  • Philippines

Solution Team

  • Amy Villanueva General Manager, Kawayan Collective Agricultural Cooperative
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