With only 4% of Africa’s plastic waste recycled, and efforts to reduce plastic waste in the continent seeming like a distant dream, this Ethiopian cleantech startup is on a mission to change that by converting plastic waste into affordable, environmentally-friendly construction materials.

Every year, Africans generate about 42 million tons of plastic—Ethiopia generates 386,000 tons of this—yet only 4% of it gets recycled. This is due, in part, to low awareness and education, lack of recycling policies and regulations as well as the lack of proper recycling infrastructure on the continent. Kubik, an Ethiopian-based startup, is on a mission to change this.

Kubik, a cleantech startup that specialises in transforming plastic waste into affordable, low-carbon building materials, has raised $3.34 million in an oversubscribed seed round. Kubik recycles plastic trash into low-carbon, low-cost building materials. Kubik’s product is significantly cheaper than conventional materials, twice as quick to construct and over 5 times less polluting than cement. 

Plug & Play, BESTSELLER Foundation, GIIG Africa Fund, Satgana, Unruly Capital, Savannah Fund, African Renaissance Partners, KAZANA Fund, Princeton Alumni Angels, and Andav Capital were participating investors in this funding round. Other angel investors were also part of this round. The funds raised will be used to drive the expansion of Kubik’s operations throughout Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s number of urban dwellers has been on a yearly rise, and waste generation has witnessed an increase from 9,700 tonnes/day in 2015 to 12,200 ton/day in 2020. This report projects that by 2030, Ethiopia’s 2015 national daily waste amount will be doubled. While growing population and urbanisation are driving an increase in single-use plastic and heightening environmental pollution and health threats, Kubik’s low-carbon, affordable building materials are mitigating such risks.

Founded in 2021 by co-Founders Kidus Asfaw and Penda Marre, Kubik has a mission to build dignity through clean and affordable living for all. The company’s low-carbon, affordable building materials are created by transforming hard-to-recycle plastic waste to tackle Africa’s housing and waste crises.

“We are delighted to have achieved this significant milestone in our fundraising efforts,” said Kidus Asfaw, co-founder and CEO of  Kubik. “This investment will fuel our growth and enable us to enhance our team as we continue to advance the development of affordable housing solutions across the African continent. We are immensely grateful for the passionate and strategic investors and partners who share our vision of providing a livable world for all.

Kubik joins the list of promising cleantech startups such as Mr. Green Africa—the Kenyan company that converts plastic waste into high-quality post-consumer resin and Coliba— an Ivorian startup that allows users to earn airtime and discounts on certain products through recycling plastic waste. As awareness and appreciation for sustainability continue to grow, we can anticipate an increase in the number of cleantech startups emerging across the continent. These startups will focus on various areas, including renewable energy, waste management, water conservation, and sustainable agriculture, among others.

Faith Omoniyi Reporter

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