Gjenge Makers Founder selected as a finalist for UNEP Impact Award

Nzambi Matee Gjenge

The Kenyan start-up Gjenge Makers receives award as Young Earth Champions 2020 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) where Nzambi Matee was one of the seven winners. The engineer and the only African woman selected, caught UNEP’s attention.

This is the United Nations (UN)’s highest environmental award given to experienced environmental leaders whose actions have a positive impact on the environment. The start-up, founded in 2018, has already recycled 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste in the East African country. Nzambi Matee also employs 112 collectors via her start-up Gjenge Makers.

According to UNEP, the ‘Young Earth Champions 2020’ will receive seed funding, mentoring and communication support. This will enable them to expand their activities. The Young Champions of the Earth award, established in 2017, is part of the UNEP #ForNature campaign. The initiative aims to encourage and motivate more young people to take action for nature. In four years, 28 environmental pioneers have been awarded around the world.

Africa needs more female founders within the housing sector.

Meeting her for the first time, you would be forgiven to confuse her with an ordinary citizen of the nation of Kenya, but on further inquiry, you would be shocked to learn that not only is she a talented dancer and a social entrepreneur, but she is also one of the country’s most brilliant minds and sustainability enthusiast.

At 29 years; Nzambi Matee is the founder of Gjenge Makers, one of the most awarded youths start-ups in Africa in 2020. Gjenge Makers is a social enterprise whose aim is to tackle waste pollution, by collecting recyclables from households and institutions and also up-cycling by making paving and building blocks from recycled plastic bottles. “In addition to tackling the prevailing plastic waste pollution in Kenya and Africa at large, we are developing an ecosystem for offering redeemable points in exchange for recyclable waste to improve living standards and foster an Eco-friendly lifestyle for a greener and healthier environment.” Gjenge runs on a mobile application that links direct household and has a business platform where you can buy inorganic waste like e.g. plastics, broken glass etc. “This is one of the ways we are reducing pollution while creating job opportunities for youths and women in our society. We are a promising start-up that has the potential to solve the menace of pollution in our society.”

“We are proud of Gjenge and happy about the progress they are making within the African housing sector where there is a greater need for balancing sustainable development and conservation. Nzambi Matee is a fantastic role model and, we need more female founders like her in the African housing sector” Jane Otima, Associate Director Market Systems & Entrepreneurship, Habitat for Humanity International.

Gjenge Makers is building a more sustainable Africa.

Gjenge Makers is part of the ShelterTech Africa alumni network,  a co-creation and stakeholder-driven network by Habitat for Humanity’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter and Pangea Accelerator. The Alumni network seeks to extend support and link opportunities to African entrepreneurs and innovators in facilitating housing markets better meet the needs for affordable housing in Africa.

“To be awarded Young-Earth Champion is a fantastic opportunity for Gjenge to continue making Africa more sustainable while creating jobs for the youth. At Pangea Accelerator, we are proud of Gjenge and see a bright future with many opportunities ahead. We look forward to continuing supporting Gjenge together with Habitat for Humanity on this journey”  Jonas Tesfu, Co-founder & CEO, Pangea Accelerator.

About Habitat for Humanity:

Driven by the vision that everyone deserves a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity (www.Habitat.org/emea) began in 1976 as a grassroots effort. The housing organization has since grown to become a leading global charity working in more than 70 countries. Habitat for Humanity works in partnership with families and individuals in need of a hand-up to build or improve a place they can call home. Learn more at www.Habitat.org/emea or follow @HabitatEMEA

About Habitat’s Terwilliger Center:

Habitat established the Terwilliger Center (Habitat.org/TCIS) to work with housing market systems by supporting local firms to expand innovative and client-responsive services, products and financing so that households can improve their shelter more effectively and efficiently. Habitat can have exponentially more impact by improving systems that make better housing possible for millions of more families. The role of the Terwilliger Center stays true to Habitat for Humanity’s original principles of self-help and sustainability by focusing on improving systems that enable families to achieve affordable shelter without needing ongoing direct support.

To learn more, visit Habitat.org/TCIS

About Pangea Accelerator:

Pangea Accelerator is a Norwegian accelerator and an investment platform operating in East Africa that matches African start-ups with capital, technical expertise and networks such as foundations and development agencies to reach a global scale.

Learn more about Pangea Accelerator here.

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