Fencing Posts From Recycled Post Consumer Waste Plastic

Nairobi lacks an organised system of waste management leading to wanton pollution by plastic waste which litters streets and open fields.

EcoPost Ltd is involved in manufacture of fencing posts from waste plastic. Our model, recognized by the UN Millenium Campaign under MDG 7, is based on the triple bottom line which considers environmental, social and economic factors. The initiative was launched based on the failure by authorities to manage Nairobi's waste.

We rid our environment of the plastic menace facilitating cleaner cities. Currently we withdraw 20 tonnes/mth. We provide an alternative to timber thus protect our forests resources. We create employment to youth who collect plastic scrap for resell. These youth earn US$ 5.75/day up from an average of US$ 2/day.

About You

Organization: EcoPost Ltd Visit websitemore ↓↑ hide↑ hide

About You

First Name

Charles

Last Name

Kalama

Twitter

Facebook Profile

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Ecopost-Limited/203427359692218

About Your Organization

Organization Name

EcoPost Ltd

Organization Website

Organization Country

Kenya, NA

Country where this project is creating social impact

Kenya, NA

Is your organization a

For‐profit

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Innovation

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Entry Form title

Fencing Posts From Recycled Post Consumer Waste Plastic

What change do you want to bring to the world?

Nairobi lacks an organised system of waste management leading to wanton pollution by plastic waste which litters streets and open fields.
EcoPost Ltd is involved in manufacture of fencing posts from waste plastic. Our model, recognized by the UN Millenium Campaign under MDG 7, is based on the triple bottom line which considers environmental, social and economic factors. The initiative was launched based on the failure by authorities to manage Nairobi's waste.
We rid our environment of the plastic menace facilitating cleaner cities. Currently we withdraw 20 tonnes/mth. We provide an alternative to timber thus protect our forests resources. We create employment to youth who collect plastic scrap for resell. These youth earn US$ 5.75/day up from an average of US$ 2/day.

What are the primary activities of your project?

These following 5 activities form the entire value chain of EcoPost Ltd.

(1) Mobilising unemployed and underemployed youth to collect plastic waste for resell to us enabling them to earn up to US$ 5.75/day.

(2) Sorting and shredding plastics in preparation for manufacture of plastic posts.

(3) Manufacture of plastic posts from a resource otherwise regarded as waste.

(4) Marketing our plastic posts through various media such as internet and newspaper.

(5) Distribution and retailing plastic posts through various channels such as stockists.

These activities aid in the withdrawal of as much plastic waste as possible from the environment and the subsequent manufacture and selling of posts. In the process we sustainably conserve our forest resources and rid our environment of plastic waste as well as create employment opportunities in line with our goals.

What is innovative about your initiative? How is it a new contribution to the field?

To make our posts we employ plastic extrusion technology in a process called injection moulding. We have retrofitted a machine called an extruder to achieve this.

Initiatives addressing the same issue include:

(1) A government ban on plastics in June 2007 which quickly proved impractical and unsustainable due to no viable alternatives for consumers.

(2) Nairobi City Council stopped investing in solid waste management due to economic pressures, incompetent administrators and lack of enforcement.

(3) Unscrupulous companies contracted to collect garbage engage in corruption leading to illegal dumping of collected waste at night.

(4) There are numerous non-profits in Kenya’s waste industry which quickly cease to exist once donor funding ends

These initiatives have proved to be unsustainable. Our project permanently withdraws an item which is considered to be a waste and converts into a useful product which is highly on demand. This way we provide sanitation to slum areas where blocked drainage & sewers due to plastic is common, we employ locals in plastic waste collection where they earn US$ 5.75/day, we pay those employed in our plant at 1.3 times the average national wage.

Being a for-profit social enterprise, we are economically sustainable through sales of posts. The market loves the plastic alternatives because they do not rot, are not effected by termites hence last longer, and are easy to work with as they can be cut, drilled and nailed just like timber.

What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.

We work with youth and women in slum areas of Nairobi. These are areas that historically have been neglected by authorities on issues such as sanitation, education and health care. These areas have little economic activity leading to high unemployment. Life is generally desperate.

About half are recent arrivals from the rural areas looking for better opportunities in the city. Most residents are youth (<35 years old). Many are married with children who are less than 5 years old. Literacy levels are low to median.

Many young men in slums actively engage in politics, not for ideological reasons, but to receive occasional handouts from politicians.

Being aware of their plight, we are able to engage members of our community in a way that uplifts their livelihoods socially and economically. We have set up 3 plastic collection yards in Dandora and Kariobangi (nearby slum areas). We have set up our plant in the same area.

Many residents are very cooperative with our initiative. Many support our efforts at cleaning their environment and providing them with employment opportunities. All our employees live within the locality of our plant.

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Charles got interested in waste management right after university. On arrival back home in 2008, he got disgusted by the fact that little had changed in terms of waste disposal in Nairobi. Waste was still not collected and heaps of garbage still littered city streets and open fields. Charles was also disappointed by the wanton destruction of the Mau forest, which was leading to drought and frequent blackouts.

With the zeal to make a difference he passionately embarked on a journey to use his skills to develop and employ innovative solutions in tackling the waste crisis facing Kenya. In his projects he emphasised environmental success integrated with a business-wide approach to sustainability. This was inspired by the German experience where their waste industry employs 250,000+ individuals, from garbage collectors to scientists, and generates revenues of 50 billion Euros annually.

After scouting several ideas, from large scale anaerobic digestion to charcoal briquettes (potential multi-million shilling industries) he settled on plastic recycling into fencing posts. He carried out a detailed feasibility of the idea throughout 2008 – 2009. Despite funding challenges, he succeeded in obtaining a US$ 12,500 seed funding. He then set up a mini-manufacturing plant with a capacity of 60 posts/day in March 2010 for pilot studies on production and sales. He currently produces and sells the posts all over Kenya. Based on an impressive response from the market he is now looking to increase capacity to 400 posts/day.

Social Impact

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Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

1) We have successfully obtained US$ 44,000 in grant funding which has enabled us to carry out a detailed feasibility of the idea and build a pilot scale manufacturing facility to test the market.

2) We currently has 15 employees, all of whom we pay 1.3 times the national wage. We have 9 women and 6 men on board. The management can now also fully depend on the business for upkeep. Management is paid 2.5 times the national wage from no pay at all a year ago.

3) We have contracted 10 other collection yards who have guaranteed to supply us with 20 tonnes of plastic per month to assure post manufacture.

4) So far we have sold 7,000 posts and generated revenues of US$ 35,000 despite numerous manufacturing challenges. We intend to grow our revenue by 100% in this financial year.

5) Currently we acquire 5 – 10 new customers every month. This is adequate for the capacity we have of 1500 posts/mth.

6) We have gained 2 reliable sales partners and hope to gain 3 more within 6 months. These partners have improved our turnaround times to 5 days as opposed to 20 days when we started.

7) In October 2010, we received an order for 300,000 posts worth US$ 2.5 million from a construction firm called Nikam Builders which wanted to fence a number of ranches in Naivasha over the next year. This was the best indication of the probable size of the market and encouraged us to forge ahead with the project.

8) We have withdrawn 300 tonnes of waste from the environment over the past year and saved about 500 trees. We want to increase this to 1,800 tonnes per year.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

101-1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Currently we are seeking US$ 315,000 in financing to acquire high capacity technology capable of producing 400 posts/day. We are confident that we will secure this financing through loan and/or equity financing by the end of 2011 and install the new equipment by the first quarter of 2012.

We intend to expand sales and marketing efforts countrywide. We are confident that we can sell 85% of all that we produce in Kenya with the remaining 15% catering for the regional markets in Uganda, Rwanda and Southern Sudan.

We will also introduce other applications for our posts to take advantage of markets in bollards and roofing trusses.

We will thus create even more jobs opportunities in collection, transport, retailing and installation of posts.

Sustainability

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What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Funding is our biggest challenge. We are currently seeking US$ 315,000 to acquire high capacity equipment for post manufacture. We hope to secure a bank loan from one of the local banks many of whom are likely to turn us down. This is firstly because we are a start-up and hence a very high risk business and secondly because we do not have any collateral/security such as land etc of equivalent value. To counter this we intend to go for asset financing and have identified NIC bank (www.nic-bank.com) as the best provider. In this case, they bank will finance the equipment and retain their ownership until we clear the loan. Regarding being a high risk start-up we intend to provide the financiers with all research we have on the viability of our venture as part of their due diligence.

Using stockists is the best way to penetrate the market. However, since ours is a new product stockists will not automatically agree to stock them. Many won’t agree to market the posts on our behalf. Most won’t pay upfront which will affect our cashflow. To counter this we intend to arrange for credit with a financier to fund purchases by stockists who will then repay the financier over a short period e.g. 4 months.

Acquiring raw material will present new logistical challenges. Our consumption after expansion will be 150 tonnes per month. For this we intend to work with even more groups. We intend to build the capacity of existing and new groups by assisting them to obtain funding for equipment and facilities with the guarantee that we will purchase all that they collect. We are also looking to begin sourcing from material from outside Nairobi.

Skills in plastic extrusion technology are in short supply. Actually there are only 3 such experts in Nairobi who serve some 50+ companies in the plastic manufacturing industry. To mitigate this we intend to have very good relations with all of them so that we can gain they loyalty.Good, timely pay will also be key to ensure we have access to their services.

Tell us about your partnerships

Technical Partners

(1)JKUAT - www.jkuat.ac.ke – Advises us on production planning & plant optimisation.

(2)KIRDI - www.kirdi.go.ke – Advises us on plant and equipment.

Financial Partners

(1)Safaricom Foundation (US$ 18,750 funding).

(2)WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) (US$ 16,250 funding).

(3)SEED Initiative. (US$ 9,000 funding)

Business Development Partners

BiD (Business in Development) Network – (www.bidnetwork.org/). BiD Network prepares emerging market entrepreneurs for investors. They have already linked us with several investors who are interested in providing all the machinery we need in exchange for equity. One investor runs a plastic machinery company in the Netherlands called Murman Plastic Machinery (www.plasticmachinery.nl/)

Enablis East Africa – (www.enablis.org/) A Canadian NGO that supports entrepreneurs in the developing world through its member-driven network. Currently they provide us with guidance and advice on green business development and social entrepreneurship.

Waste Collection Partners

Our major purchase of plastic are from 2 youth groups;
- Less is More (located in Githurai 44 near Baba dogo)

- Umoja Estate Youth Association (near Kariobangi).

Current annual budget of project, in US dollars

$50,001‐100,000

Explain your selections

During the concept period in 2008 – June 2009, all funding was provided by family. This was the period when we began doing research on various opportunities within the waste industry to exploit.

In 2009 we received US$ 12,500 grant from the Safaricom Foundation, a local NGO, which we used to carry out a very intensive and detailed feasibility of the idea. We also used the funds to set up a mini-manufacturing facility for pilot manufacturing and sales operations. With time we received an additional US$ 31,500 grant which we primarily used to used to acquire more machinery. This funding came from WWF (US$ 16,250, SEED – US$ 9,000, Safaricom Foundation – US$ 4,000). Currently we have equipment worth US$ 60,000.

We have since used the grants and are now 100% dependent on sales of posts for our financing. From the history of the past few month, we are currently economically sustainable. Month on month gross profit is 45%, while month on month net profitability is 10 - 15%.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

We intend to expand production capacity to 400 posts/day. This will enable us to cater for demand in plastic posts and also begin tests for possible demand in neighbouring countries. Market research we did in 2008-2009 revealed that the demand for timber posts in and around Nairobi is 200,000 posts per month estimated to be worth US$ 500,000 per month. This was a good indicator of the potential market for plastic posts.With this expansion we expect annual revenues exceeding US$ 300,000.

We intend to partner with stockists in various parts of the country to enable us penetrate the market by bringing plastic posts closer to customers. Two firms we've identified are Phoenix Hardware in Ngong and Westlink Kenya (Suppliers of building materials).

We intend to work with more youth groups in plastics collection. We intend to get into contracts with these groups by guaranteeing purchase of all collected plastic. We also intend to expand collection outside Nairobi. This will assure us of continuous raw material supply and hence continuous manufacture of posts.

We will work with financiers such as Grofin and Verde Ventures (Netherlands) to extend credit to us to meet working capital and equipment requirements.

We'll work with local authorities to allocate space to youth groups we work with to enhance waste collection and at the policy level to bring to life viable disposal methods for all kinds of waste.

We'll work with the local community by providing them with 1st priority for employment in the plant and in running collection yards within their locality.

Challenges

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Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Lack of visibility and investment

SECONDARY

Need for regulatory/policy support

TERTIARY

Lack of access to information and networks

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

We have unlocked opportunities in plastic waste collection. With our firm being a viable outlet the youth can now actively engage themselves in this income generating activity. Other jobs created will be in the transport industry and in the in manning the collection yards.

Having a properly enforced regulatory framework will also unlock many opportunities. We follow the Environmental Management and Coordination Act 1999 (EMCA-1999) as it provides guidelines for effective waste management. In addition we discuss it with like minded individuals in order to encourage its widespread compliance.

On average it takes very long to obtain information on waste from local authorities. Thus we continue to carry out research on all aspects of waste which we openly share with our partners.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

Leveraged technology

SECONDARY

Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

TERTIARY

Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

We are looking to expand our output to 400 posts per day. We have identified two technologies capable of achieving this:

(1) Revolver technology which consists of an extruder, shot pot and a series of revolvers. The output can reach 800 posts/day. However it is quite expensive. We’ve identified a possible supplier from the Netherlands called Murman Plastic Machinery (www.plasticmachinery.nl/).

(2) High capacity continuous extrusion technology. This can produce up to about 500 posts/day. We have identified suppliers from China such as Shunde Plastic Machinery Ltd (www.shunde-qd.com) and Qingdao Changjie machine Ltd (www.changjiemachine.com). This technology is within the range of US$ 200,000 – 500,000.

We intend to have installed a new plant by early 2012.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

Technology providers
KIRDI - www.kirdi.go.ke – Their advised us on where to affordably purchase equipment such as extruder, shredder and agglomerator.

NGOs
BiD Network – They introduced us to a Dutch investor who has has taught us a lot on plastic recycling equipment, particularly the revolver/shot pot technology.

Enablis East Africa – Enablis continues to provide us with guidance and advice on green business development and social entrepreneurship.

Companies
Rainbow Plastics – Colleagues assisted us in installation of our machinery and training of operators on extrusion processes, thus easing the learning curve of our employees.

Academia
JKUAT - www.jkuat.ac.ke – Their advice on production planning was key in ensuring that we utilised our equipment to the maximum.

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175 weeks ago Charles Kalama updated this Competition Entry.
175 weeks ago Charles Kalama updated this Competition Entry.
175 weeks ago Charles Kalama updated this Competition Entry.
175 weeks ago Charles Kalama updated this Competition Entry.
175 weeks ago Charles Kalama updated this Competition Entry.
175 weeks ago Charles Kalama submitted this idea.