Impacc and HHM’s Partnership Fuels Gjenge Makers’ Growth

By Silale Keit
August 14, 2023

Fostering Sustainable Prosperity: Empowering Green Start-ups

In a world where environmental sustainability is becoming increasingly crucial, green start-ups emerge as beacons of hope, offering innovative solutions to global challenges. Africa, with its rich potential for renewable resources and burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit, is poised to become a significant player in the green start-up landscape. One organization that recognizes this potential and actively supports the growth of green start-ups in Africa is Impacc, a non-profit organization dedicated to building and supporting green start-ups in the continent.

Impacc is creating a supportive ecosystem for its start-ups, offering financial support, mentorship, fostering collaboration and partnerships between its start-ups B2B partners and donors.

 In 2022, Impacc partnered with HHM, a forward-thinking building technology company, to empower Gjenge Makers, a promising start-up based in Nairobi, Kenya which Impacc has been supporting since 2021. This article explores the inspiring story of how this partnership came to be and its impact on Gjenge Makers’ journey toward a greener and more sustainable future.

Impacc CEO Till Wahnbaeck [right] and Gjenge Makers founder Nzambi Matee[left] at the Building Awards event organized by HHM. Picture by Philippe Hubler

Genesis of the Partnership

The partnership between Impacc and HHM began with a chance encounter when the head of communication at HHM Christophe Wey, stumbled upon Impacc’s innovative concept of investing in African start-ups while watching a television program. Impacc’s mission to foster environmental sustainability and economic development in Africa resonated deeply with HHM’s core values, and thus, the seeds of a fruitful collaboration were sown.

Impressed by the impact that Impacc was making in supporting innovative initiatives across the continent, HHM wasted no time in reaching out to explore potential areas of collaboration. After in-depth discussions and mutual understanding, HHM expressed its interest donating for a promising African building start-up. This marked the beginning of a transformative alliance that would change the trajectory of Gjenge Makers.

 ‘’What we are doing with Impacc is new, but it builds on a long-term tradition of sustainable impact. At HHM, we believe in the transformative power of collaboration, where innovation and impact converge, and supporting Gjenge makers through Impacc isn’t just a partnership; it’s a shared journey towards sustainable change.’’ says Christophe Wey.


The Rise of Gjenge Makers

Gjenge Makers is a Kenyan-based start-up that has garnered attention for its innovative approach to plastic waste management and recycling. The company was founded by Nzambi Matee, an inspiring young entrepreneur with a vision to combat the growing plastic waste problem in Nairobi, Kenya. Witnessing the detrimental impact of plastic pollution on the environment and communities, Nzambi set out to find a solution that would not only address the issue but also create employment opportunities for young people like her, and foster sustainable development.

Nzambi Matee, Gjenge founder holding two pavers made from plastic waste

Gjenge Makers’ breakthrough innovation lies in transforming plastic waste into sustainable construction materials, namely paving bricks. By using a unique blend of discarded plastic and sand, the company produces highly durable, cost-effective, and eco-friendly bricks that have gained recognition both locally and internationally. These bricks not only reduce plastic waste in landfills and oceans, but also serve as an eco-conscious alternative to traditional building materials. HHM was impressed with this innovation which is simple yet transformative!

 ‘’Nzambi told me that building in Kenya is  based on old construction methods and traditions. The grandparents and their parents still know how to build cool houses without technology. I believe that we in Europe will also follow such paths with much less technology and instead clever materials and construction methods’’ says Christoph Wey.

The Partnership’s Impact

The partnership between Impacc and HHM has had far-reaching effects, as HHM’s partial donation to the Gjenge investment made it possible in the first place. An investment of $91,250 was channeled to Gjenge in two tranches that has provided Gjenge with the much-needed financial resources to upscale its operations, improve production efficiency, and further refine its innovative technology to test new construction products.

Additionally, Impacc’s guidance and mentorship have also played a pivotal role in shaping Gjenge Makers’ business strategy and long-term sustainability goals. Recently, Impacc digital product manager, Ann-Katrin Maier developed a tool that will help Gjenge Makers measure its impact.

‘’An increasing number of companies are becoming attuned to their environmental impact. This typically encompasses effects on societal and sustainability aspects. In the case of Gjenge Makers, this entails metrics such as created production capacities contributing to SDG 9 and the volume of recycled plastic impacting SDG 12. By instituting this reporting mechanism, Gjenge is empowered to effectively communicate the outcomes of their actions to clients and stakeholders’’, says Ann-Katrin Maier.

With increased resources and expertise at their disposal, Gjenge Makers has been able to enhance its production capacity significantly by moving from producing 1000 bricks a day to 1500.  The start-up’s innovative paving bricks have found a broader market, leading to increased demand for sustainable construction materials. As a result, Gjenge Makers has been able to create more job opportunities and contribute to the local economy while making a positive impact on the environment.

Gjenge employee weighing a mixture of sand and plastic waste

Gjenge Makers’ story is a testament to the power of collaboration and the impact that socially responsible businesses can have when they come together to support innovative solutions to solve pressing global challenges. Through their joint efforts, Impacc and HHM are not only contributing to environmental conservation and sustainable development in Africa but also setting an inspiring example for the corporate world on how to embrace social responsibility and ethical investments.

“Innovative start-ups in Africa have the power to shape the continent’s future, and embracing social responsibility and ethical investments is the compass that guides their journey. By harnessing innovation with a conscious heart, they can ignite a positive transformation, not only in their business success but in uplifting communities and fostering sustainable progress across Africa’s diverse landscapes”, says Impacc CEO Till Wahnbaeck.

About Silale Keit

Silale Keit
Passionate Storyteller with a BA in Mass Communication and Media Studies. Sidale has a substantial experience in the media production industry with an insatiable appetite for changing the African Narrative. Her work has been published in both local and international outlets. She is really excited to bring positive stories about Africa to life through working with Impacc by showcasing how its ventures are driving change.

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