ETHIOPIA: plastic recycling start-up Kubik raises $5.2m for expansion

18 05 2024 | 07:28Ines Magoum, Afrik21

On 29 April 2024, Ethiopian start-up Kubik raised its latest round of seed funding, worth $5.2 million. Specialising in recycling plastic waste into affordable, low-carbon building materials, the start-up will use the funds to develop improved technology to support its expansion.

With plastic waste pollution on the rise in Ethiopia, Ethiopian start-up Kubik is banking on recycling to reduce the overflow of waste into the environment, in particular by converting this rubbish into low-carbon building materials. To accelerate its activities in Ethiopia and Kenya, where it is also present, and continue its expansion in Africa, the young company recently raised seed funding of $5.2 million from African Renaissance Partners, Net-zero focused, Endgame Capital and King Philanthropies.

“We are extremely excited to support Kubik in the next phase of its growth. Led by an outstanding team, the technology developed by the company is enabling millions of people to benefit from better and more affordable housing conditions. From a climate point of view, cement is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Finding an alternative that is not only more sustainable, but also significantly cheaper, is an outstanding achievement,” said Jinna Li and John Mairlot, Endgame Capital’s partners in the fundraising.

Kubik’s products cost at least 40% less per square metre and have chemical properties that make them safe, non-flammable and non-degradable. What’s more, these products are low-carbon, with GHG emissions at least five times lower than those of cement-based products. As well as increasing production, Kubik will use the new funding to expand its team and presence in the Ethiopian market, strengthen its improved technology for tracking plastic waste and monitoring environmental impact, and broaden its scope to empower women waste collectors.

“Through our ‘Net Zero Plastic’ programmes, companies in the hospitality and service sector have committed to working with Kubik and turning their waste into Kubik products,” says Kidus Asfaw, Kubik’s co-founder and CEO. The company has also launched a new plastic recycling plant in the state-of-the-art Adama Industrial Park in Ethiopia, and has begun to source plastics on a large scale in collaboration with the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and various social enterprises in the waste management sector, etc. To achieve its objective, the start-up will also have to increase the quantity of plastic waste recovered by Kubik, currently estimated at 45,000 kg per day, or 4% of the plastic waste produced on the African continent.

Start-up Kubik points out that this is its last round of seed funding. In June 2023, it raised $3.34 million, funding that also enhanced the supply potential of its eco-friendly building materials, currently estimated at more than a quarter of a million square metres of wall surface each year in Africa and around the world.