- Investment will support Mr. Green Africa in its expansion
- Mr. Green Africa will formalize the plastics supply chain and create jobs, as well as relieve growing cities from plastic pollution
DOB Equity, a leading Dutch family-backed impact investor in East Africa, and Global Innovation Fund, in partnership with Unilever, have co-invested in Mr. Green Africa, the Nairobi based recycler and recycled plastics supplier, to fulfill the growing demand for recyclables.
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 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.
Keiran Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Mr. Green Africa, comments: “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.”
Urbanization 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.
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.” She adds “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”.
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.”
About Mr. Green Africa
Mr. Green Africa is a fair-trade plastics recycling company in Kenya. The company aims to close the loop from consumer to plastics manufacturer through its supply network and high value recycled plastics. The company sources plastics in greater Nairobi through its 25 collection centers, processes the plastic in its factory and sells the recycled product to plastic manufacturing companies. Mr. Green Africa can provide a quality product due to its narrow focus on three types of plastics and its sorting process at multiple points along the value chain. It then sells to plastic manufacturing companies which can use up to 100 percent of the recycled plastics as a substitute for virgin plastic.
About DOB Equity
DOB Equity is a Dutch, family-backed impact investment firm that invests in impactful and innovative businesses in East Africa, with offices in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and in the Netherlands. DOB Equity invests equity and offers tailored financing, access to international networks and technical assistance to meet the needs of the business. With a portfolio of fast-growing companies in the East African energy, food & agri, education, retail and distribution sectors, DOB Equity is determined to further expand its presence and impact in the region.
About Global Innovation Fund
Global Innovation Fund is a non-profit innovation fund headquartered in London with an office in Washington D.C. that invests in the development, rigorous testing, and scaling of innovations targeted at improving the lives of the world’s poorest people. We believe that the best ideas for solving some of the world’s most critical problems can come from anyone, anywhere. Through our grants and risk capital, we help breakthrough solutions to global development challenges from for-profit firms, non-profit organisations, researchers, and government agencies to maximise their impact and affect meaningful change.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 155,000 employees and generated sales of €51 billion in 2018. Over half (60%) of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has around 400 brands found in homes all over the world, including Dove, Knorr, Dirt Is Good, Rexona, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, Lux, Magnum, Axe, Sunsilk and Surf. In East Africa, Unilever brands include OMO, Sunlight, Royco, Geisha and Vaseline.
Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) underpins the company’s strategy and commits to:
- Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020
- Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030
- Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.
The USLP creates value by driving growth and trust, eliminating costs and reducing risks. In 2018, the company’s Sustainable Living Brands grew 69% faster than the rest of the business, compared to 46% in 2017.
Since 2010 we have been taking action through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to help more than a billion people improve their health and well-being, halve our environmental footprint and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business. We have already made significant progress and continue to expand our ambition – most recently committing to ensure 100% of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognised in 2018 as sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and as the top ranked company in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders survey, for the eighth-consecutive year.
About ADVANCE, GIF’s partnership with Unilever
ADVANCE 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. The ADVANCE growth model aims to take viable business models to ‘scale ready’ enterprises, by taking smart risks and driving change through market shifts – including water and sanitation services, which need new business models to make them work for those living on less than $5 a day.
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Global Innovation Fund
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