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Improving roads in rural Rwanda to facilitate access to markets for farmers

Mobilized Construction is rebuilding and maintaining dirt roads in rural Rwanda through the power of a shovel and a cellphone.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

The Mobilized Construction approach to road maintenance was developed based on the idea of making public-private partnerships (PPP, 3Ps) possible on a microscale by reducing the high upfront planning and high operations costs. Typically a private construction company needs to enter into partnerships with public road authorities to build, operate, and maintain major roads for contracts worth millions of dollars. To bring this on a microscale, we have altered the model and dubbed it public-private-people partnerships (PPPP, 4Ps). There are two key focuses of our operations that make it possible to scale our model to create micro-partnerships. First, we engage local villagers in rural communities and collaborate with them to prioritize which roads should be maintained first. We also provide employment through jobs to further build community success into our success. Second, we are developing a technology platform that allows us to work in even the most remote regions in the world. We are developing an internal field supervisor application that tracks employee progress and productivity that will integrate with a mobile payments platform to pay wages daily. We are also partnering with RoadRoid, an application that tracks the International Roughness Index (a World Bank operating metric) to monitor the average speed and bumpiness of maintained roads to track performance.

WHO BENEFITS?

The longer but true answer is “everyone.” People use roads daily and everyone’s lives are restricted by bad roads. They are equally empowered when road conditions improve. Our program is not a simple prescription to poverty alleviation and we do not pretend that once roads are improved, the world will become great. Mobilized Construction removes the obstacles to help empower members of the community to improve their own lives and become their own change makers.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

Rwanda

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for less than one year

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for one year or less.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

Mobilized Construction is based in Copenhagen with a team around the world. We have diverse backgrounds in business, design, field research, and technology and are building a scalable solution that we hope to bring to even the most remote regions in the world.

Mobilized Construction hires local villagers to manually fill potholes, dig drainage ditches, and clear debris from the road. We are replacing the largest expense associated with road maintenance, the cost to rent, operate, and transport heavy machinery, with labor hired from local communities. In order to organize our labor force and assess the road conditions, we are creating a technology platform that utilizes data analytics to assess the road performance, communicate with individual field supervisors, track employee productivity. Our approach will deliver sustainable and climate resilient roads at a fraction of today's cost. 

We are partnering with One Acre Fund, an organization focused on generating positive impact in the lives of for farmers in East Africa, to launch operations in rural Rwanda. One Acre Fund has been serving farmers in Rwanda since 2007 and helps over 113,500 farmers today by offering seeds, fertilizers, financing, and many other services.

One Acre Fund is providing their deep local expertise and knowledge of rural roads to identify and prioritize which roads should be maintained to maximize the impact to farmers and the surrounding communities. 

Funding from openIDEO would help us maintain 150-200km of road in Rubengera, Rwanda. We are in the process of estimating how many farmers this project would impact. We believe our project will serve hundreds of farmers and thousands of members of the community while providing employment to dozens of individuals in the community. The World Bank typically pays upwards of $16,000 per km for road maintenance. We estimate we will be delivering upwards of $3 million of services at 1/30th of the cost while accelerating maintenance timelines from once per year to once per month.

We have launched a proof-of-concept in Uganda in February and have seen tremendous results from our first project. Travel time and taxi fares from the village center to our partner health clinic decreased by 50% and we have observed the number of observed vehicles increase by almost 400%. 

Better roads facilitates access to markets, decreases crop spoilage, reduces the cost of transportation of goods, and promotes competition. Ultimately we are striving to help farmers take home more pay from their crops. 

We believe improving roads is the key to empowering farmers and entire communities in rural regions with the ability to become their own change makers.

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