Saturday, May 19, 2012

60 - CEBs - a social business model

The basics
The techniques and equipment required to manufacture CEBs (compressed earth blocks) is well understood. The manufacturing process has been extensively documented and tested.
One needs to obtain the right amount of the proper type of soil and have access to the equipment to build a dwelling.

A big advantage of CEBs is that they can be manufactured at the location where the building is going to be erected. Preferably not very far from where the proper soil type can be found. If one has to transport the soil or the finished blocks a long distance the advantages of CEBs start to disappear.

Now we need to find a way to put this equipment and knowledge to work.

One needs customers. Not everyone will have the knowledge and very few people will have the money to buy the equipment.

To overcome these difficulties one needs to find a business model that will be affordable by the great majority of the people who really need a better solution for their living conditions. Those are the most disadvantaged. The people I would like to serve with all the articles published in this blog.

Business model

A group of young, energetic, community oriented social entrepreneurs and investors get together and create a CEB manufacturing services enterprise.
This enterprise provides training in the form of workshops. These workshops should be aimed at the people who otherwise would build their own dwellings out of scraps wherever they could find an empty spot of land. In these workshops people would learn basic CEB construction skills.
In addition, this enterprise would:
  • buy a CINVA-type manual CEB press
  • buy a manual earth mixer
  • rent out this equipment
  • sell CEBs received as equipment rent
Step by step it would look something like this:
  • this enterprise creates and organizes workshops
  • rents out the CEB press and earth mixer
  • no up-front payment is needed
  • but an equipment security arrangement needs to be in place 
  • use of the CEB press costs 5% of the production
  • use of the earth mixer costs 5% of the production
  • the enterprise sells this production to make money  
  • invests in additional services and equipment
Example - a person has a location, gets the proper soil and rents the CEB press. This person needs to make 1000 blocks. This person makes 1050 blocks, takes the 1000 blocks needed and uses the extra 50 blocks as payment for the rent of the CEB press. An additional 50 blocks would pay for the rent of the earth mixer.

For the disadvantaged person no money is necessary but payment takes place. For those capable of paying for the rent, a price would be established based on the sale price of the excess earth blocks. 

The challenge

Some young people with good entrepreneurial minds can certainly refine this model and make it work in their community.

People living in better conditions will be more productive and will contribute to the community market place with products and services. People just need a push to get off their survival mode where they cannot contribute to the community. From this survival level people often become a burden without a chance to play a productive and dignified role in their society. 
The first building

The first building will set the stage and provide a good (or bad) example for the community. This first building could be a school, a clinic, a social center, a local shop or the actual enterprise office. Every community will have a good idea about where to start.

All that needs to happen is to start where people can see the benefit.

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