Mobilized Construction

Mobilized Construction: Dirt Road Maintenance

New York, United StatesKampala, Uganda
Year Founded:
2015
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Idea
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mobilized Construction maintains dirt roads in rural communities in Uganda . Rural roads quickly degrade because of the natural deterioration of dirt infrastructure and the time between maintenance. Our costs will be 5-10% of the traditional cost of maintenance performed by construction companies.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if it was possible to mobilize and employ thousands of people to improve infrastructure at a fraction of the current cost?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Current road maintenance methods rely on heavy machinery, costing roughly $20,000 USD per km to maintain and resulting infrequent if not completely postponed maintenance. Machines are deployed in set schedules and transportation is laborious given the size of the machines and the road conditions they must travel over, resulting in machines frequently unavailable to demand. Maintenance is often as expensive as a complete reconstruction.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Mobilizing individuals within communities to maintain sections of dirt roads shifts maintenance timelines from months/years to a matter of days. Employee responsibilities include regraveling inconsistencies, filling potholes, and digging rainwater ditches. Employees will be divided into groups of 3-5 and each employee will have 4-5 km of road to maintain. We plan to implement a group structure to streamline onboarding and train new employees. Performance will be evaluated in groups to encourage social accountability and weighs both collective and individual responsibilities of maintenance. Maintenance is monitored by tracking the average speed of vehicles (KPI) compared today’s speeds. Speeds are tracked by adding GPS devices to vehicles.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Agriculture is often a large focus as a means towards economic development. NGOs such as One Acre Fund and Mercy Corps teach modern farming techniques as ways to improve productivity and boost crop yields. Why are Ugandan farmers still plagued with slow wage growth and uneven income then? Roads. Johan spoken with local farmers and their complaints focus on the immense negotiating power of middlemen. Wholesalers often lowball on corn and cassava prices because they are often the only middleman available to rural regions and unpredictable transit times causes some portion of crops to spoil during transit. Improving infrastructure will invite wholesalers to compete and less spoilage means farmers can pocket more money.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Improving road infrastructure creates significant economic development in rural regions. In 2012, the Belgian Development Corporation conducted a road maintenance project in Congo between the Kalemie and Nyunzu territories. Their findings reported commercial transportation of goods increased by more than 400% from 2009 figures (22 tons to 100 tons). Improving road infrastructure noticeably improves fuel economy in vehicles. The Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) at MIT has created the International Roughness Index (IRI) Scale to categorize the severity of dirt road conditions (values range from 1 through 16). Ugandan roads typically grade in 12+ severity range. From their estimates, a one scale improvement in the dirt road range on the IRI Scale amounts to roughly a 1-2% improvement in fuel economy.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Once we refine our employee incentive mechanisms and build the speed tracking technology platform, we will be able to quickly scale operations to enter into any region with dirt infrastructure (both domestically and countries globally). We plan to document and publish data throughout our operations to provide transparency and analysis to build engagement with local and national governments. We predict that governments and development agencies will become key partners in the long term and embrace us as key partners in infrastructure development.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We plan to sign concession agreements (like other traditional infrastructure providers) with governments/development agencies to fund road maintenance. We plan to bid for these service agreements near cost in order to discourage competitors from copying our business model. To generate additional revenue, we have identified four additional revenue streams: roadside advertising, toll roads, roadside support, and traffic data.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There have been three different approaches to address deteriorating road conditions in rural regions. The first approach is to hire traditional construction firms. This solution requires heavy machinery and the time between maintenance often stretches to months/years. The second approach is to simply wait until road conditions deteriorate until they are unpassable, and then begin complete road reconstruction. This solution separates rural communities from the transportation network and creates dangerous road hazards. Lastly, development agencies have previously engaged local communities in roa
Team

Founding Story

Johan and Kevin met over a couple beers trading travel stories. Through our extensive experiences over six continents, one common thread persists no matter the region, culture, or method of transportation: our experience travelling over dirt roads. On a trip in Uganda from Kampala to Gulu, normally 5 hours and 310 km, Johan arrived 5 hours late while enduring endless nauseating jolts from the uneven terrain. As self-described tinkerers, we started brainstorming ways to improve the dirt road travel experience. We started Mobilized Construction because we believe by leveraging technology and combining old and new maintenance methods, there is a better and cheaper way to maintain roads.

Team

Johan and Kevin lead Mobilized Construction as they finalize logistics for their Proof of Concept in January and apply for funding for their July 2016 Pilot Project. Johan, armed with our extensive experiences in public policy and social entrepreneurship if focused on leading ground operations and refining training and employee programming. Kevin, with broad experiences in software design, strategy consulting, and finance is focused on building our software platform, establishing corporate partnerships, and applying for funding. While both Johan and Kevin are currently part-time on the project, both are committed to evolving to full-time roles once the Pilot Project is launched in July in order to accelerate our final expansion plans. We have identified two full-time employees that we will hire July 2016. A Quality Assessment Researcher will assist Johan with research, documentation, and analysis of our Pilot Project. A software engineer will work with Kevin to build our platform for collecting and tracking KPI data from our GPS devices.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

We heard about it at the Forbes Under 30 Summit

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-Founder and CEO

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Johan and Kevin have been deeply rooted in entrepreneurial initiatives since their childhoods and are excited and confident to build upon their broad experiences as they scale Mobilized Construction. Johan has founded numerous non-profit organizations, most notably Play It On, which uses sports to promote fitness and development in rural communities in Africa. Johan has grown the organization from two volunteers to operating branches in Denmark, Germany and the United States and creating partnerships with groups in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and Togo. Kevin helped launch Arizona’s first Chinese cuisine focused food truck, Jane’s Rolling Wok, 14 years ago with his family. Kevin has had a hand in every aspect of the business, from cooking fried rice to improving food ordering operations to launching a website and social media presence.
Johan and Kevin both agree that their most important lesson they have learned from their entrepreneurial ventures is to relentlessly seek the truth when faced with questions about their businesses. We feel that this mindset will be paramount as we build Mobilized Construction. We know we will be facing numerous questions as we refine our business model, research methodologies, and ultimately what success is defined as. We are committed to the journey to find these answers.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

The Resolution Project

Eleni Magkli at Global Director of the Engineering Fragrance Project Management Office in Givaudan
Michael Dill Managed Markets Strategy & Leader at Novo Nordisk
John Buttarazzi - PPP specialist at Georgetown University
Michael Ingram- Private Sector Development at EY
Oliver Libby at Hatzimemos / Libby