Coastal Communities

Green Keeper Africa

Removing oil-based industrial pollution with fiber made from invasive water hyacinth

Team Lead

Fohla Mouftaou

Hear the Pitch

The Problem

Toxic industrial waste across West Africa is often buried or dumped, rather than treated. Separately, freshwater hyacinth, an invasive aquatic plant, is taking over bodies of water across Africa, making it difficult to cross rivers and hurting water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and biodiversity.

The Solution

To address both of these issues, Green Keeper Africa created GKSORB, an absorbent organic fiber made of water hyacinth that absorbs and cleans up oil-based pollutants. The GKSORB fiber is light, easy to recycle, and can be used to create an assortment of products for construction, oil storage, and manufacturing companies.

Furthermore, Green Keeper Africa developed a system that has local communities harvesting water hyacinths, creating jobs for more than 700 community members—80 percent of them women. In all, Green Keeper Africa’s transformational process manages an invasive weed, cleans polluted bodies of water, and strengthens local economies.

Market Opportunity

  • The African industrial sector is growing quickly, with several countries experiencing more than 5 percent annual growth; Lagos State in Nigeria alone has 180 registered oil companies and 4,000 manufacturers.
  • Historic and current practice is to allow pollution to drain into waterways or ditches, damaging nearby public health, crops, and animal resources.
  • Stronger enforcement of regulations and environmental interest in Benin, Nigeria, and elsewhere is creating a new market for products to prevent or contain industrial wastes.

Organization Highlights

  • Successful test of commercial selling phase in the Benin and Togo markets; market acquisition increased by more than 100 percent between 2017 and 2018
  • Featured speaker: Social Good Summit
  • Media: Rebranding Africa, BBC Afrique, TV5 Monde, Africa 24

Existing Partnerships

Green Keeper Africa currently partners with two organizations on the water quality and invasive species aspects of their work:

  • VIA Water, a Dutch foundation, provides grant funding focused on water
  • Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab partners to create an observation system for invasive species

Organization Goals

Green Keeper Africa aims to:

  • Expand to Gabon, Morocco, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria in the next 12 months.
  • Grow beneficiaries from 700 to 3,000 in the next three year, which includes the local residents that would be affected by toxic waste
  • Continue to improve the GKSORB product and consider new ways to recycle the product

Partnership Goals

To reach the goals mentioned above, Green Keeper Africa seeks partnerships to:

  • Mentor and advise on the development of industrial recycling solutions for GKSORB
  • Scale their manufacturing operations and expanding their market base  

Stats

The GKSORB fiber can absorb more than 12 times its weight in oil-based pollutants.

Solver Team

Organization Type:
For-profit

Headquarters:
Cotonou, Benin

Stage:
Growth

Working in:
Benin

Employees:
16

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