Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
By Christian Mwinjange, Tanzania (Cohort 5)
Every year, Tanzania loses 300,000-400,000 hectares of forest to the growing demand for timber in building and construction activities. At the same time, of the 10 million tons of plastic waste that end up in the ocean every year, Tanzania generates about 1,444 tons. These are two huge problems to the growth of my country and being passionate about the environment, I am determined to find a solution.
This is the reason I founded EcoAct Tanzania, a social enterprise that uses a chemical free, energy conserving plastic extrusion technology called “Waxy ӀӀ technology” to recycle and transform post- consumer plastic garbage and packaging materials into durable and long lasting plastic timbers. Plastic timbers are an affordable alternative to wood timbers hence reduce deforestation. The plastic timbers, which are ideal product for building, construction and furniture making, are normally made in 10ft on average and shaped either round or square.
I use my skills and knowledge from a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (BBA) and a strong background in Project Design and Management to work through my social enterprise.
In the past 12 months, our project has withdrawn over 15.5 million kilograms of plastic waste from the environment and used the waste to manufacture plastic lumbers. This has saved an estimated 450 acres of forestland and offered 35 people employment opportunities.
We are currently piloting our Garbage Medical Insurance, a micro health insurance program that uses garbage collection as a financial resource. With this program, uninsured poor slum dwellers are able to pay for health cover, drugs and other clinical services. There are indications of great results with potential for improved access to medical treatment. For the pilot phase, the insurance cover mainly targets slum children below 5 years and expectant women.
I want to be part of the innovators who solve some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges and YALI has offered that platform for me. Since my time at the Regional Leadership Center, I have connected with my mission and solution at a higher level. I attribute the success my company is having to my YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa program, since before coming to the Center I had just developed a new product, plastic top-covers for roofing tile nails. I introduced the product to the market and it totally failed to sell, leading to my disappointment. I however did not give up, and after my YALI RLC EA experience, I got skills, networks and resources that have led to my creation of a successful company that is preventing plastic waste to the ocean and simultaneously reducing deforestation by making plastic timbers, attracting interest from all over the world.
It is also through the Center that I got a chance to take part in a business skills immersion program facilitated by Citi foundation where I interacted with not only young entrepreneurs from East Africa but also mentors in the entrepreneurship field. This shed more light onto the path I had taken to transform my ideas into a social business of saving our forest and also empowering the lives of many slum dwellers.