On August 31, 2023, officials from the Addis Ababa Housing Development and Administration Bureau gathered in the Bambis neighborhood to launch a new daycare center located within the Bureau’s compound. The goal of this initiative is to provide affordable childcare options for parents with limited incomes. What makes this daycare center unique is that its construction utilizes recycled plastic materials instead of traditional building materials.
The Bureau collaborated with kubikr, an environmental tech company founded by entrepreneur Kidus Asfaw. Kidus, an Addis Ababa native, pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering at Duke University. He furthered his studies at Princeton University, focusing on Development Economics and International Development, earning a Master’s degree in Public Affairs.
Motivated by a vision of transforming plastic waste into sustainable building solutions, Kidus founded Kubik merely two years ago. Alongside his friends, he developed innovative technology that enabled them to create blocks made from repurposed plastics. This approach caught the attention of UNICEF, leading to successful collaborations in constructing schools in Côte d’Ivoire.
Not only did this initiative improve education infrastructure, but it also brought sustainable and efficient building solutions to the country, according to Kidus.
Speaking about his mission, Kidus emphasized,
“Our primary goal is to provide safe and affordable housing for individuals facing economic constraints. We aim to address the critical need for quality homes and enhance the living conditions of those in challenging economic situations.”
Kubik’s approach revolves around repurposing plastic bins as building blocks, offering sustainable and cost-effective housing solutions in Ethiopia. The company strives to create positive change in the lives of individuals by enabling them to access safe and affordable housing.
Kidus highlighted the unique focus of Kubik, saying, “Many ongoing projects in Ethiopia fail to prioritize the utilization of plastic bins as building materials. However, at Kubik, we aim to bridge this gap by providing an alternative solution that has garnered significant interest from various real estate companies. Our approach not only reduces plastic waste but also enables faster construction times and cost savings compared to traditional materials like cement and bricks.”
Kidus expressed his ambitious vision, stating, “Over the next decade, we envision making a substantial impact on building technology in Ethiopia. Our ultimate goal is to transform plastic bins into a widely adopted building material throughout the country.”
With a capacity to repurpose 10,000 tons of plastic bins annually, Kubik plans to collect plastic waste from various regions in Ethiopia. To achieve this goal, they anticipate involving 5,000 individuals who will engage in collecting plastic bins for their operations.
Looking ahead, Kubik eagerly seeks collaborations with international companies and is currently in negotiations with private entities, including real estate companies. Kidus expressed optimism, sharing that an announcement regarding progress in these negotiations is expected within the next two to three months.
“Our motivation extends beyond financial gain; we aim to share our expertise, collaborate, and invest together with other companies,” emphasized Kidus. “As a result of this approach, Kubik has attracted millions of dollars in investments from international companies within just two years.”
Six months ago, Kidus accepted the Startup of the Year award at the Global Startup Awards in Copenhagen on behalf of Kubik. Out of a pool of over 70,000 startups from around the world, Kubik was chosen as the winner.
The prior year, Kubik was honored as the top startup in Africa at a ceremony in South Africa, gaining recognition on the continent for their work. Just two months ago, Kidus had an exceptional opportunity to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, having been one of only two companies out of 100,000 chosen to be personally visited by the president due to their potential impact.
Furthermore, according to Kidus, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, recognized Kubik’s leadership in combating climate change. The IFC identified Kubik as the company most likely to drive meaningful change in addressing this urgent global challenge.
Starting with a core team of 10 employees, Kubik has grown to a current staff of 20. However, ambitious expansion plans are in the works, with goals to increase the workforce to 200 employees in the future.
In discussing Kubik’s contributions, Kidus commented on the potential for job creation, saying “We are in talks with the Addis Ababa city administration about how Kubik can help generate additional employment opportunities in Ethiopia’s capital.” The founder aims to make meaningful economic and environmental impacts through continued growth.