Here at Gong, our clients span a wide range of sectors from fintech to sustainability and climate, from green building to agribusiness, to e-mobility, to private equity and international development, so our team does a lot of online reading and research to keep up to date with what’s being talked about, what’s new and original and what’s coming next.
For Mashujaa Day this year, we wanted to tell you a bit about three of the recent (green) local heroes who have popped up on our radar, so we asked one of our new guest bloggers, Andrew Juma, to go and meet them. This is what he found out.
FROM STREET PROTESTS TO REAL ACTION
It’s a watershed moment in Kenya and across East Africa. Young people are devising pragmatic solutions to the problem of climate change. They are building new technology solutions, inventing sustainable products and producing strategic content to combat the pressing issue of climate change.
TIMAO GROUP is a startup revolutionizing housing in Kenya and Africa through long-term sustainable solutions. They make building materials from plastic waste and are committed to improving accessibility to affordable, dignified, eco-friendly living.
“Our desire is to revolutionize housing in Africa by providing affordable, quality homes,” says Ishmael Hezekiah, the Chief Product Officer at TIMAO Group.
“Currently in Kenya, we generate 2600 tons of plastic waste but only 8% of this is recycled. In addition, Kenya has an annual deficit of 85,000 housing units annually. Our focus is to change this narrative by transforming waste plastic into building materials thus addressing the challenges of home ownership and climate change.”
TIMAO builds four housing units per month using plastic waste. In so doing, they have reduced the carbon footprint of construction processes, improved access to shelter and eliminated post-consumer plastic waste from the streets.
“In the past 16 months, we have churned out over 4,000 plastic posts, lumber planks and constructive material (our plastic construction system),” says Ishmael.
“From this, we have offset at least 320 tons of GHG emissions from the environment. A 40 SQM unit offsets 10 tons of plastic waste from the environment.”
Michelle Muchillwa is a Kenyan teenager with big dreams aligned towards sustainability. Her brainchild, the Ziwa Safi App, is now the X factor in comprehensive data collection for plastic pollution prevention in the Lake Victoria region.
Michelle’s app has significantly powered strategies, action plans and progress tracking in efforts to clean Lake Victoria, which is inundated with plastics and microplastics that frustrate natural flora and fauna.
In 2021, Ziwa Safi scooped the top spot (second only to a Malaysian gender violence prevention app) in the World Technovation Challenge. The app is now available on the Google Play store for global use.
Francis Maina, a young climate activist and architect with the Solar Cooling Project, helps design and construct Net zero cold rooms, emphasizing local and sustainable materials.
“The construction sector alone contributes to 44% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, even more than the transport and industry sector, which made me take this sustainability path,” says Francis. “We always try to work with materials that sequester carbon during their growth and life cycle.
Francis has launched his startup, Franchise Green Design, and looks forward to making a greater positive impact through quality sustainable solutions.
“I think certifications like IFC EDGE help provide a valuable framework for building companies to align their operation with ESG goals and for project owners to assess the most cost-effective ways to achieve sustainability in their projects.”
CLIMATE CHANGE AND BIODIVERSITY
“The most pressing climate risk confronting Kenya and the global community today is the increasing unpredictability of weather patterns and extreme weather conditions,” says Winnie Cheche, a celebrated eco-blogger and climate activist in Kenya.
“My professional focus centres on the convergence of environmental communication and climate activism, and over the past eight years, I have committed myself to instigating positive change in the face of our planet’s most formidable challenge, the climate crisis.”
Winnie’s efforts have garnered recognition from esteemed publications such as Nation Media, Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Africa, Greenpeace UK, La Stampa Newspaper, Greiner Talks, Global Citizen, and Pass the Mic.
Winnie found her voice on social media after an incident where elephants were portrayed as ‘confused’ in local press when they invaded farms belonging to the neighbouring local communities. With her background in Wildlife Management, she knew that this portrayal was misleading and wanted to highlight that in fact climate change was the root cause of erratic wildlife behaviour.
She says there is a need to have climate solutions tailored to local contexts and that responses to climate change must resonate with African communities.
“While advocating on the streets remains crucial, a more vigilant and strategic approach is needed to secure a genuine seat at the table where tangible actions transpire. Current participatory mechanisms often exclude the public, resulting in suboptimal policies.”
These people on the frontline of the climate battle understand the most significant and severe impacts of the crisis from personal experience. They sacrifice and stretch their livelihoods every day, fighting to secure a destruction-free future.
So, while things might have cooled off on the streets of Nairobi, the fight for climate change continues on, and in celebration of Mashujaa day here at Gong, we salute all the heroes and change-makers!
But this is just the start. Over the coming months we will be exploring where innovation is blossoming across different sectors and want to profile as many brilliant people as we can who are helping to fight the good fight in supporting and driving positive change.
We are calling on you – yes, that means you – to send us your suggestions of who you think fits the bill of being a future green legend. We want to hear about all the amazing venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, corporate advocates, activists, influencers, academics, policy experts and youth leaders you rate as leading the charge in the green economy.
We’ll then publish a list of our favourite change-makers and look to share it far and wide, to help spread their message and influence across our precious planet. So don’t be shy: we’re ready to hear about your Kenyan (or African – because we’re not going to put a limit on where these come from) suggestions at GongKenya@gongcommunications.com!
[Thank you to Andrew Juma for submitting this blog].