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Home Startups Gjenge Makers is providing alternative building materials and products made from recycled plastics

Gjenge Makers is providing alternative building materials and products made from recycled plastics

by Charity Mbaka
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Gjenge Makers is social enterprise that aims to address the prevalent crisis of improper waste management in the country. The firm has developed an ecosystem for offering redeemable points in exchange for recyclable waste in an effort to improve living standards and foster an eco-friendly lifestyle for a greener and healthier environment.

Using a mobile application, Gjenge links households directly to individuals and businesses to source for inorganic waste like e.g. plastics, broken glass and old newspapers from households and institutions with the aim of recycling hence reducing pollution in Kenya.

 On picking of the waste, we weigh them through our agent network through the application which in turn sums up and credit the household via money centric handsets.

Briefly tell us about yourself, your educational background etc
I am Nzambi Matee, a social entrepreneur working in the space of recycling and construction. I have a Bsc Physics from JKUAT and work in various sectors such as oil and gas data management. Then decided to do the shift to social entrepreneurship where I started Gjenge Makers Ltd. Currently studying Social Entrepreneurship from Watson Institute in USA.

How would you describe your company, tell us about your team
Currently the company has two Directors Margaret Matee and me. We have a team of three one marketer and two product developers and researchers. Soon once we move to the Development stage we will increase our team, for better project execution.

What market gap did you spot that motivated you to start the company?
We are providing alternative building material and products which are strong, beautiful and durable made using recycled plastic as the adhesive. Currently Nairobi generates between 2000-3000 tons daily and approximately a third of this portion doesn’t find its way to the dump site. 15.9% of the waste generated is plastic and due to plastics nature of taking long to decompose it moved me into finding more practical yet useful way of recycling the plastic and that’s how it started.

How has uptake been like since you launched?
The uptake has been awesome we have not started mass production and we already have two large bulk customers who have committed to buying in our bricks. We are currently concluding our Prototype stage and by mid this year we will be launching our Development stage where we will embark on mass production.

Who is your major competition? What do you do to distinguish yourself from them?
Our major competitors are the concrete made bricks. Our competitive advantage is our price point and ability to customize based on customer’s needs.

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced since the inception of the company?
Data collection on the impact of the project and the customer feedback on the product since it was in the prototype phase and so there was little room to fully test and analyze the product properties visa vis the customer feedback.

What do you think the future of green/clean tech is in Africa?
Green technology has a lot of potential and opportunity to positively impact the continent and all we need to do is adopt and embrace it fully. In addition to creating collaboration between the players in the space.

What is your advice to aspiring African entrepreneurs?
Persistence, passion and put in a thought process to the solution development, in order to get credibility.

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