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Decentralized Micro-Entrepreneur Hubs: (ME Hubs)

A cost-effective architectural hub for socio-economic stimulation, health improvement and support using customized 20ft and 40ft ISO shipping containers . Empty ISO containers can provide a flexible method of architecture as a modular/prefab structure that is structurally strong and adaptable.

Photo of Jason Morenikeji
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A cost-effective architectural hub for socio-economic stimulation, health improvement and support using customized ISO shipping containers .

Empty ISO containers can provide a flexible method of architecture as a modular/prefab structure that is structurally strong and adaptable.

Potential container customizations for social enterprises: Clinics, Banks, Mobile Workshops, Kiosks, Industrial Kitchens, Dining and Canteens, Laundry Units, Phone Shops, Butchers, Water and Sewage Treatment Plants

Using a holistic approach to the design, installation, financial support and community participation, this concept is based on the installation of decentralized Micro-Entrepreneur Hubs (ME Hubs) developed from ISO shipping containers. These ME Hubs will offer communities, micro-enterprises and entrepreneurs access to much needed architectural infrastructure/space and essential associated services (electricity, clean drinking water, health services and other income generation services).

ME Hubs are ideally placed to offer community incentives for the support of small enterprises and locally owned projects where they can be designed, operated and managed at a local level. The ME Hubs will create a positive impact when installed by improving local social and economic empowerment - and ultimately health - in 3 ways:

- Income generation through economic opportunities (would-be entrepreneurs can rent space or a whole container).

- Provide health and other quality of life benefits for public and private services facilities.

- Entrepreneurship development for the youth.

 

The Methodology: The implementing company Gameen Creative Lab would source and buy cheap second-hand shipping containers. The containers are transported to a central workshop where they are converted (using local welding and fabrication skills) and equipped to pre-determined specifications and designs.

In essence the ME Hubs structure is:

- A flexible modular system: 1, 2, 3…5 containers can be conjoined to produce a variety of configurations… connected or stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for possibly a fraction of the cost, labor, and resources of more conventional materials.

- A flexible and fully equip architectural space created by adapting shipping container through simple fabrication principles (the inclusion of doors, windows and internal partitions can be pre-fabricated to suit user needs.

- A targeted social invention: using community capacity building (mentoring), research (into community needs).

- Delivered on-site as a turn-key installation…convenient plug-and-play concept.

- An ‘add-on’ to support and reinforce the local social and/or economic community infrastructure.

- Locally managed installation. With support, the local community can learn to identify and address their own needs.

- A business model in itself where appropriate tariff structures and administrative controls can be developed to ensure income generation and ultimately financial sustainability - selling services such as energy (electricity, clean water).

 Produced/fabricated locally stimulating job creation.

 

Benefits: Provide a physically secure and robust (infra) structure for private and public services in urban locations, offering access to basic services/electrical appliances (workshop, office, private health centre) all of which can be used to generate financial income in the community for the local community.

For example:

A carpentry workshop: the opportunity to use an electric drill or electric table-saw: provide increased productivity and quality of workmanship

Health centre: refrigeration for vaccination, purified water.

Hair dresser: Appliances.

A motor mechanic: Access to an electric grinding machine will add value to their enterprise

A farmer/ Land-owner: Micro water-irrigation through water pumping.

Shop owner: refrigeration of drinks and artificial lighting extending the trading hours

A restaurateur/bar owner: the provision of lighting or music thereby extending hours and quality of service offered.

Household: Utilization of labor-saving devices (fans, refrigerators), Cleaner and better quality of lighting, As a cooking source, Entertainment (radio services – public health information)

Micro-enterprise: Enables the use of special appliances such as hair driers, computers, Provides lighting for better working conditions. Provides cooling for better working conditions. Access to modern office equipment and communication systems (faxes, computers, the Internet, telephones).

Communities

Refrigeration of vaccines and other medicines leading to overall improvements in health. Refrigeration of local produce (fish, meat, dairy and poultry produces) can lead to improved nutrition. Better prices for products due to better food preservation. Localized capacity building Increases possibility for getting employment. Increases quality of life in general. Access to public communication systems (faxes, telephones) enabling contact with relatives living and working elsewhere.

 

Implementation: Community/group investment and participation with the ME Hubs: Design of hub specifications from a short-list of designs and services (size, technical capabilities etc, and owner models) to ensure long-term local level commitment and sustained engagement. A number of ownership models can be implemented using a variety dimensions:

- Fixed contract leasing.

- Sub-letting of space to individuals.

- Constituency served (private, public),

- Ownership (private, public rental), management/operation (Container-Hub, private, public),

- Physical configuration (fixed flexible, dual-use).

 

Community involvement: The physical site layout/design and site prepping is conducted by the local community with guidance from Gameen Creative Lab.

Easy installation, the pre-adapted containers can be delivered on site using a standard container truck and position on pre-cast concrete slab and footings. Service requirements (water supply and waste water is to be pre-installed in readiness for container mounting.

The outside of the containers are to be custom painted and highly decorated to create a community icon/brand encouraging the ME Hub to be a community social or status symbol. This is an important consideration where high levels of community engagement will generate a greater sense of community empowerment, and ultimately encourage a high degree of involvement. This ultimately will create a greater chance that a small-scale wind power system project will be well maintained by the community after installation and become sustainable.

The hubs are ideally placed to offer community incentives for the support of small enterprises and locally owned projects where they can be designed, operated and managed at a local level. This is an important consideration where high levels of community engagement will generate a greater sense of community empowerment, and ultimately encourage a high degree of involvement. This ultimately will create a greater chance that the ME Hubs will be well maintained by the community after installation and become sustainable.

Examples of shipping container adaptations:

Workshop space:

Housing integrated heavy-duty power tools.

Flexible floor space.

Potential service provisions:

Energy hub (solar PV and thermal), wind power, bio-mass: Selling power to private users.

Refrigeration: Freezing chilling: (food/produce).

Health centre (privately, NGO supported).

Internet (health information).

Specific health focuses (examples of container adaptabilities).

Water purification.

Water pumping for clean water supply.

Provision of clean energy (solar).

Privately run pharmacy, health centre.

Information service centre for income generation (youth entrepreneur capacity building hub)


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Photo of Meena Kadri

Great to have you joining us from Mozambique, Jason! We hope you'll be popping by others' Concepts too and joining some discussions. Global perspectives are a great asset of OpenIDEO and we'd love to see you as part of ongoing conversations. You can also use the Build Upon feature to link to other Concepts to do with construction and building – and get more DQ points ;^) This helps us all connect the dots and cross-pollinate goodness from related streams of thoight. To do this you can hit the Update button to the right of you post & scroll down to the Build Upon feature. Try searching terms like "build" & "construction" and check out to see if there's anything relevant you can drag across.

Photo of Jason Morenikeji

Thanks Meena. I'd love to visit the Open IDEO frequenetly...but dodgy internet and field work keep me disconnected. Thanks for the tips.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

i was wondering about this sort of idea myself & it occurred to me the cost to transport to sites in hilly/mountainous, remote areas (where i think would be the most use for them) could make it prohibitively expensive -- does anyone know what sort of costs would be involved in getting the containers to the desired sites?

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Like it a lot! Was just looking for something like this! It fits into the future Caldas eco-world. Good luck!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Like it a lot! Was just looking for something like this! It fits into the future Caldas eco-world. Good luck!

Photo of Anne Kjaer Riechert

I like the idea about using containers. When I was living in South Africa I saw them used in many squatter camps, mainly for commercial use (-often mobile phone companies like Virgin Mobile)