Report: Freetown Pitch Night- October 4th 2017.

The theme for the October 4th Freetown Pitch Night was “Made in Sierra Leone-Local Building Constructions Materials ”.

According to UNIDO by 2050, two-thirds of the global population will live in cities. This will put serious pressure on developing countries like Sierra Leone where local construction infrastructure is at an early stage.

The use of local materials for the construction industry has wide ranging economic implications for Sierra Leone. It also speaks to the “circular economy”.

In developing countries, such as Sierra Leone, conventional building materials are tied to international market forces which often render housing unaffordable to low-income groups and marginalized populations.

Furthermore, these imported materials are often climatically inappropriate especially in tropical  regions. The continued use of much imported conventional building materials do not provide climatically and socially viable and affordable housing and can hinder sustainable growth in the local construction industry for the majority of the population.

At the Freetown Pitch Night we met three innovators that are creating building materials and designing landscapes using local raw materials. These   local entrepreneurs are providing solutions for sustainable construction with their designs, ideas & investments.

Our Guest Speaker was Mrs. Lavern Fatmata Buya-Kamara, General Manager of the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation- SALHOC. More will follow in this report.

Report_October_MSL_Housing

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Freetown Pitch Night- A Critical Element in an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

The Freetown Pitch is more than a night where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas. It is a platform for them to connect, build their network and crucially, demonstrate their innovative abilities.

The Freetown Pitch Night is part of efforts to build an ecosystem in Sierra Leone that will support a new breed of entrepreneurs-value creating entrepreneurs.

An entrepreneurship ecosystem “refers to the elements – individuals, events, organizations or institutions – outside the individual entrepreneur that are conducive to, or inhibitive of, the choice of a person to become an entrepreneur, or the probabilities of his or her success following launch. (wiki)

It is fair to say that at worst, we lack an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs, and at best what we have for an ecosystem is at a birth stage. The diagram depicts an Ecosystem. The Freetown Pitch Night is part of the Networking Asset (Gathering places).

Value creating entrepreneurs (as opposed to rent seeking entrepreneurs) need an ecosystem that would allow them to flourish. We are beginning to now see the slow emergence of a significant number of such entrepreneurs. At the August Pitch Night, we witnessed three innovators in the Circular Economy. These entrepreneurs where turning waste to wealth, not only creating value for themselves, but for society as whole.

There are several entrepreneurship value creating styles. In essence, value creating entrepreneurs seek to create value for society, seek a higher purpose than simply making money. These entrepreneurs have a clear blue print for their company’s  genuine contribution to our society. Further, the entrepreneur’s  existence is reflected in the products and services they create and how their company operates.

This is the opposite of a rent seeking entrepreneur which is defined as the  use of the resources of a company, an organization or an individual to obtain economic gain from others without reciprocating any benefits to society through wealth creation.

Freetown Pitch Night provides opportunities to enhance the development of a new breed of value creating entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone; entrepreneurs that will create world class products and services while addressing  local needs.

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Sierra Leone Housing Corporation-SALHOC

Our Guest Speaker was the General Manager of SALHOC, Mrs. Lavern F Buya-Kamara. She started off my making the point that “Shelter is never a luxury, rather a necessity of which everyone is entitled to”.  However this has being a serious challenge in Sierra Leone especially in the capital city Freetown. She gave several reasons:

  • Housing investment is not attractive to the Private Sector
  • Cost of Finance from Commercial Banks is at an average rate of 23%
  • Urban sprawls –41% of the total population of 7,092,113 reside in urban areas.
  • Foreign Investors and Real Estate Developers require Sovereign Guarantee to invest in extensive housing projects which Government is not in a position to offer.
  • Disproportionate allocation of State Lands in the Western Area
  • Low income level of citizens across the Country.

The Sierra Leone Housing Cooperation, in order to address some of the issues above, encourages the use of local building materials. They believe this will address in particular, the high costs (based on imported building materials) and effective housing systems.

Therefore the encouragement of the use of appropriate local technology using laterite and cement to prepare stabilized soil bricks has the potential to providing cost of providing cost effective housing system. The technology for these blocks are based on that of Latin American Engineer –Raoul Ramirez (Cinva Ram Bricks)

Encouraging the use of local building materials will also see reductions in costs, making unaffordable housing, affordable.

In addition to this, SALHOC has  created mediums through training of local house builders that would also serve as agents to our objective and thus creates employment for themselves.

Despite being constrained by finances, Mrs. Buya-Kamara is satisfied with the significant strides they have made. She informed the audience of a  3-bedroom house at Kissy Low cost Estate (east end of Freetown) built using bricks made with local raw materials. 669 houses of a similar model have been mortgaged to sitting tenants with more projects and activities in the pipeline.

In concluding Mrs. Buya-Kamara listed the significance of encouraging and indeed developing the use of local construction materials as follows:

  • Availability of laterite soil -on site materials can be used
  • Adaptive temperature mechanism
  • Bricks are strong, stable, water resistant and durable
  • Fire resistant
  • Sound resistant
  • Create jobs and livelihoods
  • Reduce cost of construction
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Cyrus Sarrah Kamara: Anthill Construction System

Anthill Construction System is a Building Construction & Design company that was registered in 2012, making bricks for housing using local materials in various ways and also building and construction of houses.

The making of the bricks using local building materials using primarily, Hydrafoam, Civan Ran and Seasonally Cured Clay Bricks, allows for cost savings of up 50% on two bedroom or more houses, as compared to the use of conventional imported materials and bricks cement based bricks.

The bricks are made in-house and the construction of houses is executed by Anthill. This also allows for cost and efficiency savings as the different technologies are fully understood by Anthill and continuously improved.

Anthill’s major achievement has been the winning of an international bid tender by the Royal Society for Birds. He was chosen out of seven Sierra Leonean companies in bid that span three West African countries. Anthill was awarded the contract to build a dwelling near the Tri-State area of Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone. The building lodged Her Excellency, Helen Johnson-Shirleaf, President of Liberia on the occasion of the opening ceremony.

Anthill is seeking a Marketing Firm or Consultant for to promote the communication of their value proposition. Anthill is also looking for Financial Firm or Consultant to help them in expanding and further developing their relationship with Financial Institutions.

Contact Information: Cyrus Sara Kamara. Business Name: Ants Construction Schemes. 076 643 404 or 088 881 044. Theant_sconstruction@yahoo.com

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TEKK Landscape: Mr. Thomas M. Macauley

Tekk Landscape was established in 2012 providing solutions on two levels:

SOFTSCAPE :Lawns, Trees and Shrubs. These are locally grown from species that are acclimatized to our tropical condition)

HARDACAPE: paving blocks, drainage. These are locally produced from river sand, granite and cement)

TEKK describes its solutions as

  • Attractive
  • Low cost maintenance
  • Good drainage capacity
  • Add value to properties
  • Therapeutic
  • Paving block ready to use after installation
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Daniel J. L. Conteh, Rural Shelter Aid

Rural Shelter Aid was founded in 2010 under the catholic mission, with the aim of providing solutions that address three key problems.  The first is the serious inadequate supply of housing, the second, affordability and the third, the low utilisation of local materials.

Rural Shelter Aid address these problems by the use of waste products like “carbolic”, use of hydra- form brick and producing their own sticks, ball stone and mud bricks such as Silver ram stabilized blocks, Hydroform Bricks, Ceramic burned bricks, Hollo concrete blocks and Ceramic fired hollo bricks among others .

Rural Shelter has already completed several projects- a two houses at Newton 4 mile for disabled persons; three houses situated at Kwama and one house at kuntolor, Wellington.

At the Pitch Night, Rural Shelter sought Investors and Business Professionals to expand his business.

Contact information: Daniel J. L. Conteh, Rural Shelter Aid. 078 025 781 or 077 342 181.Email: ruralshelterindustrial@gmail.com

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