Image: Joelle Eyeson, co-founder of Hive Earth
A new global financial analysis released in March revealed that sustainable investment has surged worldwide by more than a third since 2016, reaching assets of more than $30 trillion.
Across the African continent, a new wave of ecopreneurship is taking root. Local enterprises are paving the way for sustainability and exemplifying the impact that local knowledge and ingenuity can have when combined with innovative business models. By successfully linking sustainable business to environmental consciousness and a will for societal well-being, these start-ups are tackling poverty, environmental degradation, and social exclusion. Proving that grassroots enterprises can have a huge, global impact.
Mud, Glorious Mud
Through their company, Hive Earth, young entrepreneurs Joelle Eyeson and Kwame Deheer are bringing eco-friendly, affordable solution to the housing crisis in Ghana. Eyeson and Deheer use the rammed earth method of construction, with all of their buildings made from packed mud and granite. By using naturally sourced materials, Hive Earth are able to keep building costs 30-40% lower than conventional construction methods whilst simultaneously creating employment for locals.
As well as being environmentally safe and structurally sound, the rammed earth method keeps the internal temperature cool and is free from any harmful chemicals or toxins. The many benefits of rammed earth construction have not been lost on major developers in other parts of the world, who are keen to bring more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly housing solutions to Europe. As for Hive Earth, Eyeson and Daheer hope to expand the company to become the major eco-friendly housing provider across the continent. Hive Earth is striving to expand their business not only to provide much needed jobs for the local community, but to make safe and comfortable housing accessible to all.
Rethinking The Purpose of Single Use Plastic
In South Africa the EcoBrick Exchange enterprise has combined architectural technique with green building solutions to create a construction technique that is at least 20% cheaper than standard methods. The enterprise works to educate local communities on the construction of simple, reusable building bricks by filling plastic bottles with unrecyclable refuge. These eco-bricks are then used to build early childhood centres and schools in underprivileged communities. The enterprise engages with local schools, businesses NGOs to educate and train participants, as well as offering second hand clothing and household items in exchange for the bricks, or are offered discounts at local stores in return for their participation.
The EcoBrick Exchange hold the community at the heart of all that they do. Their commitment to reducing pollution as well as constructing buildings that will benefit the community for years to come, shows a focus on and commitment to the bigger picture within both their management strategy and their business model. The enterprise empowers individuals to address the shortages of quality education centres, implement sustainable waste management methods. Furthermore, when the company works with communities on new projects, it earns a 50% commission on any savings achieved above the initial 20%. Proving that economic gin can unite comfortably and successfully with sustainability.
More Than Just Good Business
The driving force of the sustainable business model is to create shared value. More than mere corporate philanthropy; the sustainable business model repurposes the idea of corporate social responsibility to marry societal benefit with economic goals. Not only are sustainable investments in African eco companies a sensible business move, but they are also an investment in our collective future.