Have you ever been curious of knowing where plastics such as bottles and buckets go after they are no longer of use? Well you will be surprised with how many people from different fields are making use of these same plastics that we dispose.That is how EcoAct Tanzania have positioned themselves through this innovation that uses technology to come up with a very effective solution.
Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) in partnership with Habari Hub Tz has had an opportunity fora one on one conversation with an aspiring tech-preneur and the founder of EcoAct Tanzania, Mr Christian Mwijage whose initiative is to transforms plastic garbage to plastic timber. EcoAct as one of the most growing tech-companies in Tanzania uses a chemical free, and an energy conserving plastic extrusion technology called “Waxy ii Technology.” This innovative process applies the recycling and transforming post consumer plastic garbage into plastic timber. The initiative was established with an aim of addressing challenges of post consumer plastic pollution, waste management, climate change and deforestation. The EcoAct factory is located at Tegeta, in Dar es Salaam.
The person behind EcoAct Tanzania
An award winning in Social innovation 2019 of the St Andrews Prize for the environment, Christian Mwijage who is the executive director of EcoAct-Tanzania tells us the story of how the idea came about. Christian says at first just like any other individual in search for earnings to make a living, he too wanted to work and get paid. He looked at life in a personal level but as he was employed that was when his perspective about life took a shift and a thought of wanting to do something for the people, his society was born. With a plan in mind, he used what he had at the time to start his business, “I believe in starting with what you have and so I did.”
How wasted plastics are made valuable and useful
With over a million use of plastics each year going to waste EcoAct provides a solution to make use of these plastics constructively to the needs of its customers. The company has been running over three years whilst ensuring the withdraw of over 2.5 million kilograms of post consumer waste plastics from the environment and use of manufacture plastic lumbers. This has saved an estimated 250 acres of forest that would have been cut. Looking at the mission of EcoAct-Tanzania it is to employ innovative environmentally friendly solutions that save the environment from pollution, deforestation and climate change while creating sustainable jobs by manufacturing and selling Eco-friendly quality building products that exceed the expectations of customers.
EcoAct-Tanzania center’s on designing, manufacturing and direct selling of building materials (Plastic materials) made from 100% plastic garbage to real estate developers, adverting agencies, domestic home developers, wild life conservation agencies, farmers, telecommunication infrastructure contractors, road contractors and government institutions. They have currently secured 1067 customers where 90% of its customers are in Tanzania, 7% in Kenya and 3% in Congo.
They also have a program on the how they collect this plastic garbage and in return live a positive impact to the lives of the collectors. There is a quote that says, “When you create a difference in someone’s life, you not only impact their life, you impact everyone influenced by them throughout the entire lifetime.”
No act is ever small and Chris lives by an example. The locals are employed in the sourcing and production of products, they also provide training opportunities and skills for vulnerable women and youth by educating the public on recycling practices. EcoAct has gone further and beyond in the way they operate by launching a “Garbage Medical Insurance.” which is a micro health insurance program, that uses a garbage as a financial resource. Through the program local families and people living in the slums are able to register for the garbage medical insurance and pay for medical treatment, medicines and other clinical services using garbage as payment to an insurance scheme.
The plastic timbers are sold directly to their customers through the sales team or indirectly through appointed hardware shops, building expo exhibitions and stockiest.
EcoAct target customer
When one open’s a business he/she should not expect customers to just show up with no major marketing efforts to apply. Any business requires a target market research and understanding the needs, perspectives of the customers you intend in targeting. A target market research is not a onetime thing, it continues even when you are already running your business because with customers there is always something new to add and learn from so as to better up your services according to their needs.It is important to know who your targeting, why and how will the customers targeted get your product.
EcoAct targets adverting agencies, domestic home developers, real estate developers, wild life conservation agencies, road constructors, farmers, telecommunication infrastructure contractors and government institutions. They sell plastic timbers directly to customers through their sales team and indirectly through building expo exhibitions and selected hardware shops.
Being asked what he could have done differently, Christian admits, “In the beginning I had no mentor, someone who can guide and advice me, so I found myself investing in the company more than in the team this led to the downfall of my company.”
He now knows better and how it is important to invest in a team of people who share the same vision as you when building up something. Despite the failures in the beginning Christian never gave up. He chose to learn from his past mistakes and worked hard to re-establishing EcoAct Tanzania.
Never give up on something that you are passionate about for success does not happen overnight. As stressful as the process is remember why you started in the first place. Challenges will always be there and it is up to you to tackle them and keep being innovative in what you do.
When addressing the vision of EcoAct, Christian Mwijage had this to say, “We are looking into the building industry and thinking in the next three year with the usage of plastic materials will reduce the cost of construction by 50%. I look forward to a day where we can be able to construct a whole structured house using plastic garbage as a resource. To enable youth more than 9 million in Tanzania to be able to own their own houses.”
He added by saying, “We are working with poor families, we have been in the slums and we have seen how their houses look like and I think how can we help these people own their own houses now? They do not have the money but they have garbage and we love garbage that’s money.
EcoAct Tanzania shares further online discussions in a video interview format on our you tube channel https://youtu.be/U6ZaCJVO_yI . You can access the online conversation across all Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) social media platforms using the hash tag of #ImpactTechTZ
To read more about our reports featuring Startups in Tanzania https://bit.ly/ImpactTechTZ2021-Report