Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Lamina POP

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What is the name of your solution?

Lamina POP

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Lamina POP is a social enterprise that aims to increase access to low-cost, dignified housing worldwide.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

In developing countries, urban populations are growing at an exponential rate, with many cities unable to accommodate this influx of people due to inadequate urban planning. Consequently, crowded informal slum settlements with inadequate access to safe water or sanitation, poor structural quality of dwellings and insecurity of tenure, are commonplace. 

The world bank estimates that as of 2018, 29% of the world’s population lived in slums.  

Having access to quality affordable housing is fundamental in reducing poverty, improving equal opportunities and guaranteeing sustainable growth: for this reason, it became the objective of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) number 11. The aim, by 2030, is to put housing at the centre of specific policies to drastically reduce the number of people living in conditions below the minimum standards. 

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What is your solution?

The Lamina POP system consists of galvanised corrugated metal sheets riveted at predetermined intervals throughout the “Y” axes. By joining two parallel corrugated metal sheets it creates a structurally sound panel that can be used as the mainframe for any construction. This thereby reduces the number of materials required for a build, hence reducing the total cost. By creating a membrane that is self-supportive the use of a traditional foundation is not required. The system also allows for prefabrication on-site making it easier to be constructed in areas that don’t have the infrastructure to support traditional building methods. 

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

Our solution aims to service two primary groups: 1. Families who live in desolate poverty and are facing substantially detrimental outcomes in their lives as a consequence of living in extremely poor living conditions. For them, we provide a completely new opportunity to begin to uplift their lives towards creating much more resilient economic systems within their immediate family circles. By drastically transforming their living environments by providing a safe, clean space for them to live, work, and study in. The other primary group we target is: 2. Families who are of low-middle income and are looking to upgrade their homes to block constructions (the traditional construction material in Guatemala). These families are generally already planning on investing capital into their homes, and we are therefore providing a cheaper alternative solution which enables them to save money on an overhead cost and ultimately deploy that capital towards re-investing that in their family ecosystem - towards education healthcare. 

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

Our solution aims to service two primary groups: 1. Families who live in desolate poverty and are facing substantially detrimental outcomes in their lives as a consequence of living in extremely poor living conditions. For them, we provide a completely new opportunity to begin to uplift their lives towards creating much more resilient economic systems within their immediate family circles. By drastically transforming their living environments by providing a safe, clean space for them to live, work, and study in. The other primary group we target is: 2. Families who are of low-middle income and are looking to upgrade their homes to block constructions (the traditional construction material in Guatemala). These families are generally already planning on investing capital into their homes, and we are therefore providing a cheaper alternative solution which enables them to save money on an overhead cost and ultimately deploy that capital towards re-investing that in their family ecosystem - towards education healthcare. 

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

Our core team consists of three of us - a Guatemalan architect, a Guatemalan entrepreneur/financier, and a computer scientist. At the core team level, each of us brings a unique set of skills all of which contributes towards bringing Lamina POP’s delivery of our solution to the masses. Our architect, Sebastian, focuses on developing the structural integrity of our buildings, rendering the construction projects, and continuously innovating on the structural integrity and deployment of the buildings. Marcus, the entrepreneur and financier, focuses on operations, financial modelling, and partnerships. His background ranges across a number of industries but his capacity to think across multiple domains creates a dynamic environment for Lamina POP to continue to innovate and establish new key relationships with business, government, and global organisations. Brett, our computer scientist and strategist, focuses on pushing the technological innovation of Lamina POP, as well as deploying scalable solutions for Lamina POP across the world. 

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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:

Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
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Our solution's stage of development:

Scale
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How many people does your solution currently serve?

Thus far, we have built 15 structures - 10 residences, 3 warehouses, and 2 schools. The residences, on average house 7 individuals, our warehouses serve on average serve 12 individuals, and the schools have a capacity of 60 children. Therefore, our direct impact is on 226 individuals at the moment. The cascading effects of these are hard to quantitatively measure, but we know that by providing safe housing, schooling, and warehouses for some of Guatemala’s most marginalised communities we are providing solutions to an even larger community.

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Why are you applying to Solve?

At Lamina POP, we pride ourselves in driving community-led and backed solutions. From our very inception, our thesis has always relied on leveraging networks and partners to drive social impact throughout Guatemala’s most vulnerable regions. We are looking to join Solve in order to: 1) access the network of social entrepreneurs who are looking to leverage technology to drive positive social and environmental change across the developing world. We hope to share our system with them, and learn more about the innovations that they are bringing to the table and figure out how we can integrate them into our systems at Lamina POP. 2) We are also excited to connect with already leading organisations like the Gates Foundation and Capital One in order to learn about how they are effectively driving change at the institutional level and share with them what we are working them in order to harness more traction towards the system in order to escalate our operations at a wider Latin American region. 3) Lastly, we are excited to become active members of the community and share in solidarity the work that we are all doing as we continue to create a more equitable and prosperous world with the backing of the one the world’s leading universities. 

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

Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Sebastian Swezey

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Our buildings are created from structurally sound panels that consist of two corrugated metal sheets, called laminas in Latin America, riveted together. Lamina POP structures are faster and easier to build, easier to transport, and more durable than those built with current leading low-cost housing methods. They are also more flexible, stay dry, reflect light, and promote good airflow, which are very useful properties for shelter in the developing world. Furthermore, they can be built in less time at only a fraction of the cost. Using only off-the-shelf components, a single-family Lamina POP structure can be built for approximately $5000. Concrete block construction, the leading alternative model, costs approximately $8000 to $9000 per home, even when built-in bulk.

My father, Pablo Swezey, developed the Lamina POP system after being posed a logic puzzle: how could one support a glass bottle between two wooden blocks using only a ten-pound note? The answer was to fold the bill into a ridged pattern this distributes the bottle’s weight evenly. This solution was a moment of inspiration for my father - realizing that a similar principle could be applied to build low-cost but resilient structures. After a long battle with Cancer Pablo sadly passed away in 2014. Since then I have taken forward the project.

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

Our primary goal is to help individuals in emerging economies to meet their human and economic potential. We plan to achieve this by generating a solid and stable ground where families can focus on improving their life. We believe that housing is the nucleus for this which is why we will primarily focus on housing, to begin with. Thanks to the flexibility of our system we will be able to implement it in other ways such as in schools, hospitals and community centres thereby having a larger impact on communities. Our goal will always be to maximize the number of people who directly or indirectly interact with one of our constructions. In the next year, we hope to raise enough money to build 50 homes and invest in company infrastructure. Five years from now we hope to build our home #350. This will be achieved by a combination of capital from grants, financial rounds, partnerships, and capital generated from high-end projects.

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

One of the ways we measure our outcomes is by the number of individuals who interact with a Lamina POP structure, be it live in a Lamina POP home, go to school in a Lamina POP structure or work in a factory that was built using the Lamina POP system. A few simultaneous outcomes that occur from Lamina POP being adopted are a reduction in poverty, better health and wellbeing, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure and sustainable cities and communities. All of which are directly correlated with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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What is your theory of change?

Due to the injustice in the housing market Lamina POP wants to support people to thrive through homes By applying an individualistic approach. By partnering with individuals in both the public and private branches we aim to reduce imbalances in the housing market by building the capacity of agency of vulnerable individuals to improve their housing situation. Facilitating the public and private sectors to be more inclusive. Using our proven system, we can create awareness-raising and advocacy to address systemic housing inequities. We hope to help people & communities to live in adequate housing which will increase dignity security and resilience throughout emerging markets. 

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The Lamina POP system consists of galvanized corrugated metal sheets riveted at predetermined intervals throughout the “Y” axes. By joining two parallel corrugated metal sheets it creates a structurally sound panel that can be used as the mainframe for any construction. This thereby reduces the number of materials required for a build, hence reducing the total cost. By creating a membrane that is self-supportive the use of a traditional foundation is not required. The system also allows for prefabrication on-site making it easier to be constructed in areas that don’t have the infrastructure to support traditional building methods. 

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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:

  • GIS and Geospatial Technology
  • Imaging and Sensor Technology
  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Materials Science
  • Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
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In which countries do you currently operate?

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

  • Guatemala
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

Full-time: 2 Part-time: 2 Contractors: 6

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How long have you been working on your solution?

2 years fully, technology developed 15 years ago

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

At Lamina POP, we are constantly taking steps towards enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusivity at our company. We are doing so by ensuring that our team remains balanced 50-50 across men and women. Currently, we are at a 70-30 split (with more men than women), but we are focusing our recruitment towards onboarding more women to make up for this imbalance of gender. However, we focus on hiring our staff from impoverished communities in Guatemala that are typically in situations where having an extra income from the work with Lamina POP provides a strong foundation for them to enhance their quality of life. Ultimately, we are continuing to develop our system ni order to create a model whereby anyone can interact and build out their own builder of Lamina POP and we will therefore structurally address the barriers to entry that exist across Guatemalan society. We are therefore ultimately hoping to empower communities that generally do not have many opportunities. We are working closely with the communities we are entering into to create an inclusive work environment whereby we are highly culturally aware of the social dynamics that exist across the environments that we are entering into.

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

At Lamina POP, we have a number of business verticals that we are leveraging to ensure that we are driving sustainable financial growth for the long term. Firstly, we are relying on a model that is targetting a number of verticals for our customers. We are serving the needs of three different customer segments: those who are extremely poor, those who are in the middle class, and commercial customers. The latter is the financial engine of Lamina POP that enables us to create a funding mechanism that has a larger profit margin and ultimately gives us the operating capital that covers the overhead of our operations. Therefore, the people costs of Lamina POP are taken care of, which enables us to create a self-sustaining model. For our middle-class customers, we believe that these customers are looking to upgrade their homes from dilapidated homes towards more stable homes - which oftentimes creates a significant financial burden on their lives. Therefore, to serve this customer segment, we are offering financial mechanisms that enable us to provide financially distributed payments for their homes that are built with Lamina POP. These customers are our bread-and-butter customers that bring substantial revenue into our operations (albeit with fewer margins than the commercial partners). Lastly, as our mission is to provide a roof over the head of as many people as possible, we are utilising the funds from the latter two customer segments to serve the needs of the former. We are partnering with leading non-profit organizations across Guatemala (such as Habitat for Humanity), whereby they are providing philanthropic capital to drive the construction of homes across Guatemala. Therefore, we are establishing a sound financial model that enables us to create long-term value for the communities that are serving. We operate on a lean business model which enables us to develop our operations in such a way that is able to create financial models that are working at an easily scalable mechanism. This is an exciting opportunity in the sense that it gives us the flexibility to navigate our operations with a lot of freedom when it comes to pivoting and finding new horizons and regions to expand our operations towards. 

 

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

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

As was aforementioned, we are relying on a number of income streams to become financially resilient as a self-sustaining business. However, we have also been fortunate enough to partner with the University of Cambridge and Stanford University who have both helped us with grants that have enabled us to accelerate our materials investment, our design development, and our financial modelling. Primarily, we are focusing on purely product selling to our customers, rather than relying on long-term sustained grant support. Our product, the Lamina POP homes, have varying degrees of financial income they provide - but we are generally sustaining our operations with the financial income we have been doing from these transactions. We are now reaching the point where we are looking to scale up our operations and are therefore hoping to onboard values-aligned investors into our investment pipeline. This ultimately means that we will be able to rapidly in-house much of our supply chain and move towards an operational pipeline that drastically cuts our operational costs. As of now, we are completely covering our expenses with the revenue we are generating, and we are going to continue to maintain this trajectory moving forward. 


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

Examples may include grants that you have received, revenue you have generated, or investment funding you have raised. We understand that some financial information may not be publicly shareable, but any specifics you can provide (such as funder names or monetary amounts) is helpful to the judges as they assess the potential for success of your solution.

Thus far, we have generated approximately $75,000 in revenue, with an approximately 20% profit margin. We have received $10,000 in grant funding from the University of Cambridge and Santander Bank. We have also received $8,000 worth of material by way of donations from Autodesk (by way of architectural design software). We also received design support from the University of Stanford for approximately $5,000 worth of services.

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Solution Team

 
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