Ethiopian plastic upcycling startup Kubik gets fresh funding, plans to license out its tech | TechCrunch

KubikA plastic upcycling startup has raised $1.9 million seed funding, Months after announcing the initial equity investment, The startup’s latest investment is from African Renaissance Partners, an East African venture capital firm; Endgame Capital, an investor with a bias towards climate change-related technologies; and King Philanthropies, a climate and extreme poverty investor.

The fresh capital comes as the startup expands its operations in Ethiopia following the launch of its factory in Addis Ababa, where it is turning plastic waste into interlocking construction materials such as bricks, columns, beams and jambs. Co-Founder and CEO of Kubik Kids Asfawtold TechCrunch that the startup intends to double its operations in Addis Ababa as it lays the groundwork for pan-African growth from 2025.

Kubik’s approach involves transforming plastic waste into “low-carbon, sustainable and affordable” construction materials using proprietary technology, which Asfaw says they can rapidly license out for pan-African and ultimately global development. Will happen.

“What we want to do is solve the problems of cities and so, we are thinking about making our business model truly circular. The way we have set up our business strategy is that we are now in the focus phase of proving this model in Ethiopia. We will expand it to a few more markets to prove the diversity of contexts in which this business model can work. But over time, what we really want to do is be a company that is licensing this technology,” said Asfaw, who co-founded with Kubik Penda Marre In 2021.

“This way we feel we can really work at scale. This is not by having factories around the world, but by this industry adopting a new way of making materials globally,” he said.

He said his product allows developers to erect walls without the need for cement, aggregate or steel, making construction faster and reducing costs by “at least 40% per square metre”. Cost is a major constraint in construction and the availability of economical or cheap construction materials presents a better option for developers of affordable-housing projects.

Asfaw said Kubik’s materials have passed safety testing by the European standards agency, Intertek, which examined strength, toxicity and flammability, among other things.

“We don’t want to sell anything that is harmful to humans. We did not start selling until these reports were available,” he said.

The startup currently recycles 5,000 kilograms (and has the capacity to do 45,000) of plastic waste a day. It has signed partnerships with corporates and Addis Ababa Municipality for regular supply of plastic waste. In the near future, it is considering product diversification to cover pavers and flooring materials.

It is estimated that the world Production of Of the 430 million tonnes of plastic per year, two-thirds is for short-term use. Obviously, the world is suffocating with plastic waste, and the situation has become worse due to the trend of consumerism in developed countries, facing areas such as rapid urbanization and economic growth. african cityPlastic waste is also getting out of control, which requires immediate response. In the coming days, startups like Kubik will play a leading role in providing sustainable solutions to this threat.