Gjenge Makers: Making Trash Their Business
On their website, Gjenge Makers are described as a social enterprise that aims to address the prevalent crisis of improper waste management in the country. Crossover Kenya recently had a Q&A session with their founder and CEO, Nzambi Matee.
Crossover Kenya: How did the idea to start this social enterprise come about?
Nzambi Matee: The idea came from seeing how much plastic was being thrown. After research I came across this company in Russia and another one in Cameroon that make paving blocks , tiles and other forms of building products using recycled plastic as the adhesive. I approached them and they gave me some insights on the science behind the making of the paving bricks and that is where I started.
Crossover Kenya: Briefly explain how it works.
Nzambi Matee: We collect the plastics from different household. We have an application that we use to incentivize the households. Once we collect them, we process the plastics and produce paving blocks of various shapes and sizes.
Crossover Kenya: How do you get households to participate? Do you go door to door to get them to subscribe to the app? Is there a subscription fee?
Nzambi Matee: We are currently doing door to door activations to have more households sign up on our platform in addition to researching on how we can develop a proper incentivizing method using the blockchain technology. Signing on to the app is free. We intend to use the brick production as source of revenue in addition to using a crypto currency. We are developing a ‘point’ system which is actually, crypto currency based.
Crossover Kenya: After you get the waste, do you recycle it yourselves?
Nzambi Matee: Yes, we process them into beautiful paving and soon building blocks.
Crossover Kenya: Do you plan to expand to other parts of the region and the rest of Africa?
Nzambi Matee: Yes, upon getting proper market penetration in Kenya we will then expand to East Africa and other African regions.
Crossover Kenya: Challenges faced thus far.
Nzambi Matee: Understanding and streamlining the collection of waste and the process of incentivizing.
Crossover Kenya: A piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs.
Nzambi Matee: Resilience is key. Follow your heart but take your mind with you.
In this era of climate change, going green has never been more important. Green businesses such as Gjenge Makers not only create employment opportunities for jobless youth, they also help to make the world a cleaner and better place.