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Integrating marginalised waste collectors into a fair-trade system

GIF is happy to announce we are investing in a recycling business that integrates marginalised waste collectors into a fair-trade system.

Mr Green Africa recycles and sells ethically sourced materials with a traceable social and environmental impact. It currently engages over 2,000 previously marginalised waste collectors and sells over 2,000 metric tons fairly sourced recycled materials for local and international markets. The business seeks to formalise the plastics supply chain and create jobs, as well as relieve growing cities from plastic pollution.

The investment will allow Mr Green Africa to expand and build on the aggregation model which enables it to scale the trade of recyclables while building a strong and reliable supplier network. It will lead to increased processing capacity to produce higher value recycled products in larger volumes to supply consumer goods companies. GIF’s investment will specifically go towards a new pelletizer machine – resulting in uniformity for plastic pellets (made from flakes) and a subsequent premium price.

DOB Equity, a leading Dutch family-backed impact investor in East Africa, is a co-investor. For GIF this investment is made under ADVANCE, our partnership with Unilever which provides a way to unlock private sector investment needed to scale new business models for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which present new market opportunities and new jobs.

Urbanisation and a growing middle class is leading to increased plastics ending up in the environment. Plastic is burned, ends up on the streets or on a landfill. A growing number of international consumer goods companies including Unilever have pledged to reduce the impact of their plastic packaging on the environment, by working towards using 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025 or earlier. In Kenya only 10 percent of plastic waste is currently being recycled.

Keiran Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Mr. Green Africa, said: “We are very pleased and looking forward to working with DOB Equity and Global Innovation Fund on the expansion of Mr Green Africa. We believe we are in the right place, at the right time, to create a blueprint for emerging markets to provide a circular solution to the plastic challenge and need partners like DOB Equity and Global Innovation Fund that see this opportunity.”

Alix Zwane, CEO of Global Innovation Fund, said “This is a great investment for GIF – an innovative business with demonstrable returns in terms of financial and social impact. Our funding will support its growth through which it will deliver real change. We look forward to engaging further with the team to realise the potential of this business.”

Justin Apsey, Unilever East Africa CEO, said: “Our strategic partnership with Mr Green Africa has opened new frontiers in confronting the plastic challenge in a more collaborative and sustainable way. We shall continue to leverage on our purpose to drive even greater environmental and social impact in our quest to lead in creating a brighter future for all East Africans.”

Brigit van Dijk – van de Reijt, CEO of DOB Equity, says: “DOB Equity is keen to support companies focusing on waste reduction and recycling and Mr Green Africa is DOBs’ second investment in the sector following a recent investment in Zanrec, a waste management company on Zanzibar.”

Saskia van der Mast, Investment Director of DOB Equity, comments: “We expect the demand for recyclable materials in emerging markets such as Kenya to overtake that in developed countries, driven by the fact that Kenya is a growth market for these companies, as well as the negative effect of plastic packaging being more evident. With its unique sourcing infrastructure and focus on quality we believe Mr Green Africa can work together with companies and provide an example for the plastics value chain globally”.