Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

EcoStain

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What is the name of your solution?

EcoStain

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

We harness the power of timber bamboo and industrialised construction techniques to decarbonize the built environment.

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What specific problem are you solving?

The construction industry is an ecological disaster. Embodied carbon from construction accounts for 11% of global CO2 emissions and 28% including lifecycle building operations. Cement contribute 7% and steel up to 8% global emission.Wood requires huge land areas and is harvested globally at unsustainable rates, with 18.7 million acres of new deforestation each year. Large-scale reforestation to sequester carbon is slow, has been hampered by expensive and inaccurate verification, and is difficult to monetize in an inefficient and opaque offset market. Despite sustainable forest practice, we are loosing trees at alarming rate an estimated 15 billion tree per annum, half of which are used by construction Industry. The building industry recognises that bamboo is a sustainable alternative to wood, but until now, there hasn’t been a reliable supply of timber-grade bamboo lumber to meet demand.  On  2021, more than 100 global leaders pledge to reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030. The time for bamboo lumber is now. Planting timber-grade bamboo restores degraded lands, replenishes aquifers, absorbs 10x more carbon, and continues to provide fiber for lumber for up to 100 years.

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What is your solution?

EcoStain take full advantage 127,000 ha of bamboo in Tanzania to develop a climate-positive bamboo alternative to wood, concrete and steel using high-tech engineered bamboo lumber. As this shift occurs, every new building will support climate-positive CO2 drawdown and provide regenerative local bamboo economies in regions that need it the most. Compared to many soft wood trees which can take up to 30 years to reach maturity, bamboo is a fully mature source for commercial products in just three to five years. Bamboo clumps once matured (3-5 years of planting) offers itself for annual selective harvesting (harvesting of mature bamboo poles), providing sustenance benefits, income livelihood opportunities through value-addition. But for bamboo to become a viable alternative to wood it must be thick enough (timber-grade), the quality of the products must be consistent, and the supply must be reliable. EcoStain plan plants and cultivates and collect the bamboo species required to develop the products that the construction industry needs. 

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

EcoStain has already identified customers of the products

1. Households;- Most of households in Tanzania especially in slum areas are facing challenge of building cost effective house with on going trend of population growth, our forest will not be able to save using trees that take decades to grow.

2. Construction companies- Are looking for the alternative to wood that can 100% replace wood in construction industry, the need for sustainable and alternative to wood is at global scale and we need to move faster to save community and climatic disaster caused by deforestation for timber.

Beneficiaries 

Bamboo Farmers ;- Through out-growers system will have access to bamboo market hence increase their income and livelihood ( Bamboo carbon economy)

Households-; Will have access to low cost alternative woods for eco-friendly houses globally. 

We believe that one of the largest revolutions in building materials in the coming years will be the widespread adoption of high-tech engineered bamboo lumber. As this shift occurs, every new building will support a climate-positive CO2 drawdown and provide regenerative local bamboo economies in regions that need it the most.

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

With over a decade of residential bamboo construction and materials research, EcoStain boasts the most diverse staff in the bamboo business. Our team has extensive knowledge with the bamboo supply chain and technology, as well as industrial manufacturing and a lifetime commitment to the environment, making us a one-of-a-kind combination that few other building material firms can match. We're in it for the long run to permanently alter the environmental impact of global building.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Enable mass production of inexpensive and low-carbon housing, including changes to design, materials, and construction methods.

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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Our solution's stage of development:

Prototype
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How many people does your solution currently serve?

3

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Why are you applying to Solve?

By joining a Solver, EcoStain will have direct access to industry practitioners for alternative building materials, company-farmer interaction for scaled impact, and networking, mentorship, coaching, and connections to various Solver networks and Solver teams will enable EcoStain to be able to give consumers with distinct value in addition to cost-effectiveness.

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Neema Walter- CEO

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Bamboo has a unique geometric growth curve that makes it l0x faster than tree-based CO2 drawdown. Unlike trees, which die after cutting, bamboo requires harvesting 1/3 of the clump each year to stay at its maximum growth rate. Thus carbon drawdown is perfectly synergistic with scaling bamboo engineered lumber compared to other materials that are more focused on eliminating emissions from manufacturing. and anything that can be built by wood can be built by bamboo. In addition to that  EcoStain plan to establish bamboo outgrow scheme that will provide alternative economic activities to women and youth in project area.

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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

1. No Poverty: Our innovation tackles poverty by creating revenue across a wide range of actors, namely: community members who earn wages for nursery and planting activities, farmers who will earn income from the sale of bamboo materials, transporters who will be paid to transport material to the facilities and finally factory employees who earn wages for the transformation of culms into bamboo slats for the construction industry.

2. Zero Hunger: The first stems from the fact that bamboo shoots are extremely nutritious and are culturally accepted as part of the tribal diet. Therefore, the more we plant, the more opportunities there are for bamboo shoot consumption. A second collateral benefit of a bamboo economy also holds the potential for hunger eradication – bamboo leaves, when dried and ground, can be added to feedstock for cows and goats and, due to the high content of nutrients in the leaves, result in higher milk output per animal.

3. Gender Equality: Gender inequality is a problem in Tanzania. The company is aware of our opportunity and responsibility to have positive impact on gender equality through the emergence of a gender-equal bamboo economy. Specifically, we have mapped out several roles along the bamboo value chain that we expect will, over time, contribute to a rebalancing of gender equality within the bamboo economy.

4. Decent Work and Economic Growth: we are convinced that the use of bamboo in the construction industry is still in its infancy and that, just as the world has discovered bamboo for flooring and cabinetry, so will it gradually convert lumber products into sustainable bamboo “lumber” products. The size of the construction industry’s potential demand is in hundreds of billions of dollars. Once bamboo is planted on a scale that can convincingly support large scale buyer demand, the potential to create decent work and create economic growth is virtually unlimited. 

5. Sustainable cities and communities: Underlying everything we do is our company’s core belief that bamboo has a major role to play in the emergence of sustainable cities and communities. We bring to this topic decades of expertise in bamboo construction, in decades a radical vision for bamboo to replace a large range of construction applications from single houses, to small structures like schools and health clinics, to multi-story multi family buildings.  There is no limit to how far bamboo can go to deliver sustainable cities technically and we are only paced by cultural acceptance of bamboo as a sustainable alternative to high carbon footprint building materials. But without having to wait for global acceptance of bamboo as a primary construction material, our project anticipates evolving toward the construction of low cost housing solutions that will help address a dramatic shortage of housing amongst communities, as well as more futuristic solutions such as flood-resilient amphibious housing that allows light weight bamboo houses to rise with rising waters, and return to ground once the flooding event has subsided.

6. Climate Action: Our project climate impact is simply massive. Scientific studies conducted by the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines confirm that one hectare of planted giant bamboo equates to over 500 tons of CO2 emission reduction.


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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

In order to achieve our theory of change of increasing bamboo farmer's income and households  and construction industry have access to affordable bamboo-based wood EcoStain has developed the following metrics to track the performance of our innovation. We will primarily collect data through outcome surveys with key stakeholders, in addition to holding targeted interviews to confirm assumptions about changes to farming yield (volume and quality), production costs, and income. We will also continue to refer to public reports from the Tanzania Ministry of Agriculture, to observe country-wide trends that may be improved through the increase in access to low cost bamboo based wood.

KPI 1: Establishment of partnerships with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) by mid June 2022

KPI 2: Establishment of Bamboo nursery at Sokoine University of Agriculture by end of 2022 

KPI 3: Establishment and formation of bamboo farmer's grower scheme by early 2023

KPI 4: Establishment of EcoStain pilot facilities for bamboo based wood fabrication 

KPI 5: Sales of fabricated wood by end of 2023

KPI 6: Form a partnership with at least 20  construction companies by 2024

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What is your theory of change?

The theory of change (ToC) is centred on the following inter-related assumptions that (a) current bamboo cover on farms and forest land can be improved by sustainable management to enhance climate change mitigation and resilience benefits through training to farmers that will be conducted by EcoStain (b) intensification of bamboo growing contribute to resilience, income and livelihoods of farmers and at same time lead to increased climate change mitigation benefits (c) market potential for bamboo that will be provided by EcoStain in form of alternative timber substitute (d) small holder farmers and particularly women, can achieve higher returns from bamboo by selling bamboo to EcoStain thereby increasing income. (e) communities, especially women and youth can participate more in, and benefit more from EcoStain value chain hence increase their income and livelihood.

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

EcoStain focus to produce a sustainable, low-embodied carbon engineered bamboo lumber that is stronger, more durable, and more fire-resistant than wood. The technology that EcoStain developing is  Laminated Bamboo Lumber (LBL) and fabricating technology that will replace wood, concrete and steel in a construction industry. The company will have various products include but not limited to laminated veneer lumber, laminated strand lumber, plywood, boards and bamboo flooring. 

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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Materials Science
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13. Climate Action
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Tanzania
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

2- Full time staff 1- part time and 1. Advisor

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How long have you been working on your solution?

1 Year

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What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Three professionals make up the EcoStain implementation team, including Neema Walter, a female co-founder. EcoStain is committed to attaining gender parity in its management team in the future, as well as the hiring of women for contract work and overall employment equity for men and women in all roles. 

To help the project go from gender sensitive to gender responsive, with the ultimate goal of becoming gender transformative, the organization will hire an external gender expert to perform a gender analysis study and incorporate the findings throughout the early stages of implementation.

Bamboo is highly gender sensitive, providing livelihoods, and income for both men and women mainly due to its light weight, suitability to be grown on homesteads, and relative ease of splitting and processing. Currently, women are engaged especially in bamboo nursery, bamboo energy, bamboo mat, craft and basketry production; and majority (over 80 per cent) of workforce in existing bamboo industries are women.

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Our business model will be B2B where bamboo-based wood will be sold to Tanzania based-construction companies during our pilot scale and later with our full operation we will sale to number of other customers including  constructing companies in other countries.

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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)
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What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

In the beginning, we will engage development partners for grant funding to launch our product and cover our operations. At the end of the high-fidelity prototype phase, we will already be operational and will use our proceeds from sales to fund the project. In the long term, we will consider taking investors on board in order to expand the company internationally. 

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Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Our project consists of a sustainable financing system that will ensure its pathway to scale to service the construction Industry. However, in order to efficiently execute the project we will need to be initially financed by external sources in phase 1 of the project i.e the first three years of the project. These may include support from local stakeholders Central and Local Government i.e.Tanzania Forest Service Agency (TFS), under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT), National Environment Management Council (NEMC), Ministry of Lands Housing and Human Settlements Development and all Municipalities. All the aforementioned government authorities have a stake in combating the increase of deforestation through forestry management and sustainable housing. Furthermore international project such as International Network for Bamboo & Rattan (INBAR ) in its project "Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Programme 2030"  therefore can support our course. International donor organizations and/or financial institutions like the World Bank and MIT Solve would also be very much interested in giving a hand to our course because it will complement the primary core function of promoting better living conditions for people in developing countries. Support from these stakeholders will ensure our take off until we can in later phases (2 and 3) be able to generate enough revenue for the project to sustainably run itself. On that account, the project will require external financial sources up until halfway towards the medium term (i.e the within the first 3 years) and will be sustainably running itself in the long term.  We foresee the faster growth and capturing the biggest market. The market for green building materials is projected to grow from $217 billion in 2020 to $384 billion in 2025. The total market for engineered wood, on the other hand, is expected to grow to $400 billion by 2027. We are confident that our engineered bamboo products will increasingly be used in place of wood as fast as we can produce them. Meanwhile, bamboo’s ability to draw down carbon  10 times more than an equivalent mass of trees – creates another market for EcoStain. We will partners with leading organizations such as Climate Care to sell carbon credits, the demand for which McKinsey and Company is forecasting to grow to billions of credits a year. 


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Solution Team

 
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