Gjenge Makers is a company started by 29-year-old Kenyan woman Nzambi Matee, that specializes in recycling plastic into building blocks. It all started back in 2017, after the woman quit her job as a data analyst and started creating and testing different paving materials made of plastic and sand in her mother’s back yard. Nzambi ended up putting all of her savings into the project and in the end it was all worth it – she ended up winning a scholarship to attend a social entrepreneurship training program in the USA.
While in the US, Nzambi refined the ratios of sand and plastic of her pavers in the labs of University of Colorado Boulder. It was there that she also developed the machinery to produce the plastic bricks. Nowadays Gjenge Makers produce 1,500 plastic pavers every day, and they’re not only strong, but affordable too!
Kenyan woman Nzambi Matee started a company that turns discarded plastic into building blocks
Nzambi is a major in material science and has worked as an engineer in Kenya’s oil industry. She was inspired to start Gjenge Makers after routinely finding discarded plastic bags on the streets of Nairobi.
Nzambi’s efforts have even led to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) naming her a “Young Champion of the Earth”!
The pavers produced by Gjenge Makers are not only strong, but affordable too
All of the products produced by Gjenge Makers are certified by the Kenyan Bureau of Standards.
The company recycles around 500 kilograms (1102 lbs) of plastic every day.
Nzambi says she not only wants to tackle the problem of Kenya’s plastic waste pollution, but to hopefully help solve the country’s inadequate housing problem.
Gjenge Makers’ pavers were recently used to cover the dirt paths in the Mukuru Skills Training Centre located in the capital’s Mukuru Kyaba slum.
Watch Nzambi explain more about the properties of the plastic pavers in the video below
Gjenge Makers have already recycled 20 tons of plastic waste and want to push that number to 50 in 2021.
The pavers come in a variety of different colors and shapes
UNEP has even named Nzambi a Young Champion of the Earth 2020 for Africa!
In the future, Nzambi hopes to scale the production of plastic pavers to all of Africa.