A partnership to significantly scale-up of Build Up Nepal to empower more rural entrepreneurs to produce affordable, safe and eco-friendly bricks. The brick-making businesses create jobs, safe housing and opportunities for low-income families, women, migrants, and youth.
Construction is one of the largest industries in Nepal and creates a high demand for building materials, including affordable fired bricks. Building materials are highly pollutant, responsible for generating 37% of Nepal’s CO2 emissions, as well as Particulate Matter, black carbon and other pollutants.
Nepal, located in one of the most seismically active regions in the world, requires robust building materials to withstand earthquakes. Poor quality building supplies have resulted in 50% of houses not meeting safe housing standards and millions of people living in sub-standard and insecure homes. COVID-19 has prompted a reverse migration of Nepali migrant workers from around the world and has resulted in a loss of employment and livelihoods. Meanwhile, the brick industry in Nepal is booming, creating a unique opportunity to create jobs for low-income families and support a green recovery from COVID-19.
About the initiative
Build Up Nepal support rural entrepreneurs by providing them with brick-making machines, training, and support to start and build micro-construction companies. The brick-making technology is sustainable and low-cost, making it easy to use and run. The bricks use compressed local sand and soil with just 10% cement. Being off-grid, the brick makers are effective in rural areas and reduce the need for lengthy transport of material with low emissions.
This initiative aims to support the partners to scale Build Up Nepal’s operations.By 2020 Build Up Nepal have supported 250 MSMEs and communities, creating 2,250 jobs and building 45,00 houses. Having proven the model they now need support to further refine and find efficiencies to scale.
To support the scale-up, the partners will help to create a supportive market environment for its rural entrepreneurs. The support includes business training, mason training in resilient construction, demonstration buildings and the training and sensitisation of government and key stakeholders.
Each successful enterprise creates a multiplier for the technology, resulting in 2-3 new MSMEs starting in the same area within the next year. Each enterprise that fails has the opposite effect, highlighting the need for a supportive market environment.
A pivotal enabler to scale is developing Build Up Nepal’s own production capability. The partnership will support a re-design of the brick making machines and support Build Up Nepal to start it’s own production and assembly, reducing costs and increasing durability.
Finally, the partnership will build robust evidence to effectively scale and strengthen it’s team. The partners plan to test and validate which methods are most effective.
Inclusive construction: creating opportunities low-income families, women, migrants, and youth
Build Up Nepal’s focus on underserved rural areas and low-income families. Returning migrants, youth, and disadvantaged groups are looking to improve their income while staying in their village. This is hard due to limited economic activity and lack of job opportunities in rural areas. Build Up Nepal provide training and intensive support to underserved communities to help businesses get started and create a pool of qualified labourers in the community.
While men and women are both involved in the construction industry, women are typically excluded from training opportunities and forced into unskilled, low-paid work such as carrying materials. To address the barriers, women entrepreneurs receive extra trainings, coaching, and lower up-front investment through inclusive approach and incentive programmes.
Build Up Nepal brings people with a disability into their training and prioritises people with a disability as beneficiaries for model houses.
Climate friendly construction
Build Up Nepal’s operating model improves the environmental impact of the construction industry in Nepal. No fuel or burning is required, and less cement usage means 39% less CO2 emissions. The growing network of small businesses aims to replace 5% of carbon-intensive fired bricks with Build Up Nepal’s bricks by 2024, saving 10,305 tonnes of tons of CO2 emissions.
Key contributions from partners
- Build Up Nepal Engineering is contributing its project management and implementation experience, helping to set up machines, provide training, and recruiting entrepreneurs.
- S&S Management Services is providing expertise to support quality control and build local capacity and its import license to source the machines.
- Engineers without Borders will provide its learnings in Sweden to Nepal, focusing on improving machines and quality assurance to best meet the needs of the Nepali people.
- Australian Government is contributing catalytic funding and can provide gender expertise to strengthen social and commercial impacts, connection to an extensive network, capability building on how to capture report social impact, safeguards standards and practices, national and global recognition.
Hear from the partners
“Build up Nepal Engineering is very excited about the partnership with BPP and Engineers without borders. We believe this project will enable us to scale up our solution for low-cost housing through a network of MSMEs to several locations of Nepal. It will also enable us to invest in systematic quality control and R&D to improve the solution and make safe housing affordable for all.” Björn Söderberg and Bina Shrestha, Build Up Nepal.
“At Engineers Without Borders Sweden we are excited to strengthen our long-standing collaboration with Build Up Nepal. This joint partnership with the Australian Government offers strong support for our project and will ensure its lasting positive impact on the communities it serves. We are delighted to work with partners who share our commitment to improve Nepal’s living standards and promote more sustainable construction methods and jobs in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.” – EWB Sweden
This partnership was selected through the BPP’s 2020 Call for Partnerships to support COVID-19 recovery across the Asia-Pacific.