The Kubik way – Safe, durable and affordable low-carbon buildings made from plastic waste

Interview with Michael Tekabe, COO of Kubik.

Africa is on it’s way to leading innovative sustainability. One way we know this is with the phenomenal work done by Kubik turning hard-to-recycle plastic waste into low-cost, low-carbon building materials one block at a time. 


What does Kubik do? Please tell us more about the fantastic and innovative work that Kubik does. 

At Kubik, we turn hard-to-recycle plastic waste into low-cost, low-carbon building materials. In the process, we empower women-led enterprises within the waste sector through our supply chain partnerships. We aim to drastically reduce the cost of constructing homes while tackling the plastic waste issue on the continent. 

What inspired the innovation?

Kubik was started by co-founders Penda and Kidus, who had led UNICEF’s first circular economy project in Ivory Coast, where they built 300+ schools using similar technology. They realized that the applications of the project reached far beyond schools and wanted to scale this – hence Kubik was born.

Where is Kubik currently based? 

Kubik now has offices in Kenya and Ethiopia. Our launch market is in Ethiopia.

Let’s talk about expansion; how has that journey been for you? Are there plans to expand to more markets? 

High building costs and poor waste management are common in a particular country but reach across the African continent (and far beyond). As the continent is set to double in population by 2050, there is a huge need for affordable, dignified, and safe living solutions. Our primary goal is to scale operations in Africa’s 2nd most populous country – Ethiopia. In parallel, we are researching entering two additional markets in the next 18 to 24 months.

What’s next for the current markets you serve? (could be short-term or long-term goals that you can share at this stage)

Currently launching in Ethiopia.

What has been Kubik’s most significant achievement(s) to date? 

  • Being named Africa’s Startup of the Year by the Global Startup Awards.
  • Being nominated for the Global Startup of the Year by Global Startup Awards (awards to be finalized in March)
  • Building partnerships with GIZ Ethiopia, Addis Ababa Municipality, and the largest real estate developer in Ethiopia.
  • Being accepted into the ShelterTech accelerator hosted by Habitat for humanity and Plug&Play Ventures.

Please share how you view partnerships and how they can aid in the growth of a business primarily focussing on startups in the African continent. 

Partnerships are essential for any company, especially an environmental-technology startup such as Kubik. We consider the core of our partnerships to our success – from finding the right supply chain partners, off-taking agreements, and even finding the right people to invest in our journey. We are fully aware of the strength and seek out pan-African partnerships. At the same time, we also see many opportunities for learning from and sharing knowledge with partners outside of Africa.

Please share what drives you personally. 

Being an Ethiopian that grew up in Germany and the United States, I have always longed for a way of working in East Africa. The pure potential of the people, the countries, and the region serves as a massive driver. At the same time, the current state does not resemble that potential. There are a lot of complex topics that need to be addressed with contextualized solutions. For decades (if not centuries), value has been extracted from the continent, and my goal is to retain some of that value and drive forward positive change on the continent. Waste Management, Housing Affordability, and Meaningful Employment are all areas that Kubik will positively affect.


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