BeeBIZ - Business Incubation Zone out of converted containers.
Krizevac Project & the Beehive Centre, Malawi, will give land, construction expertise, machinery, childcare and enduring oversight.
"Common Ground" Retail Park in South Korea - With adaptations, the kind of thing that's possible in Malawi.
BeeBIZ - can be piloted in the Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise and replicated globally.
EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA
Problem - Creation of jobs and enterprises is not keeping pace with rapid urbanisation in Africa. Worklessness is a big problem in city slums. In India, cities are a source of wealth for the rural poor, in Malawi however, food and money is more often sent to relatives in the cities.
Solution -20 forty-foot containers will be adapted into an enterprise area of workshops, offices and classroom spaces, with shared cafe, toilets and meeting space in Malawi. Entrepreneurs learn by doing and BeeBIZ will make it easy for people in nearby slums to start businesses. BeeBIZ will help entrepreneurs to try, to course correct and eventually succeed. This is different from learning in a classroom.
Containers represent resilient units of infrastructure which can be adapted quickly and cheaply. They have a structural integrity which survives the rain and difficulties of construction in Africa. BeeBIZ will collate, share & test the best ideas for container conversion from around the world. Collaborating with OpenIDEO, BeeBIZ will seek new, innovative ways of adapting containers and will shape a "silicon valley" of small social enterprises, piloted in the Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise, Malawi. Budding entrepreneurs will have easy access to electricity, water and the internet and will be co-located with Microloan operators, and advisers. BeeBIZ will be a place to get businesses going, creating jobs and job creators in a scalable, shareable system.
Beneficiaries will be new entrepreneurs in poor urban cities in Africa and the people they employ. As a non-profit organisation, Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise will take any surplus from this to support the women and children in a Children's Centre. This Centre will provide childcare for women who want to train and start businesses in BeeBIZ.
BeeBIZ will provide a downloadable e-Book of the best container conversions and will use social media platforms to share best practice.
HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?
The Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise in Malawi(see www.krizevac.org) has used and adapted containers already, though in smaller, less cohesive ways. We now want to grow this expertise. We have also adapted a South African soil stabilised brick making process which doesn't require burning of bricks and so does not deforest the locality. We have trained welders, carpenters and machinery to build in an appropriate way but also quickly and cheaply.
The Beehive Centre has worked with local chiefs, churches & mosques since 2007 and is known and respected in Chilomoni township. We have land ready to be used for this purpose. The great thing about the containers is that they can be moved, added to and combined in different ways. They are an immensely flexible method of trying things out. Located nearby to BeeBIZ would be the Beehive technical school, a rich source of budding new entrepreneurs, who now need a space to start their businesses.
We have, in our team of international volunteers, based in Malawi, the architect winner of the 2015 Ireland Home of the Year Award http://www.rte.ie/ten/news/2015/0514/701118-home-of-the-year-winner/. This eco house is environmentally outstanding and we expect our container designs to be outstanding in being appropriate for their location, purpose and ways of dealing with ventilation and lighting. The majority of trainees in tailoring and design at the Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise are women. BeeBIZ will be located nearby to the Beehive Children's Centre which will provide subsidised childcare to further support women.
Yes, for two or more years
I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
I run a UK charity www.krizevac.org & have been based in Malawi for 10 of the last 25 years involved in aid and development work. I am co-founder of the Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise in Malawi and my passion is the continuing transformation of a township on the edge of Blantyre City.
IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?
BeeBIZ has been an idea we've had for some time, but has never been a priority. It certainly is now! Need for jobs and job creators has never been greater and the wealth of willing graduates from Beehive's vocational training has never been better. The timing is right to colocate a volume of new enterprises alongside this vocational training. We have land, some startup containers available and willingness to ship more and design & shape them into a business village.
HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?
Converted containers aren't new. We've had many of our own. The creation of this "particular silicon valley of social enterprise" is our innovation: placing this entrepreneurial catalyst in the midst of abject poverty. As with so many things in Malawi, it's not the idea, but its implementation which is the bigger difficulty. After nearly a decade of vocational training deployed in this area, it's time to accelerate the conversion of this training to jobs and new enterprises.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?
Is the existing solar array in Beehive adequate for expansion?
When can we include expansion of the solar system and bettery bank in Beehive?
Funds available for insulation & shading roofing material?
Number of containers already available within Beehive?
Relative priority against competing initiatives?
Rates & rental of eventual units to be determined.
Is the container as good as the hydraform block system for simple, replicaple, rapid building?
Can a planned canteen & student tuck shop be included as part of BeeBIZ?
Should the expansion of the new Beehive data entry business be included in BeeBIZ?
WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?
Lack of funds & lack of sufficient empty containers.
HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?
Qualitative interviews with targeted potential beneficiaries, including students revealed a number of interesting points:
- Beehive tailors mostly want to work from home rather than in containers, with some notable exceptions, though all are interested in a "market place" and support to export goods.
- Microloans are needed by many - Beehive has already started piloting its own microloans scheme.
- CoG or Cycle of Good - a project making goods for export from blown-out inner tubes revealed that export quality production is still some months away.
- Discussions with the design team & architect revealed BeeBIZ will fit well with existing plans and three 40 foot containers are likely already available for use.
- Nearly all students at the JPII Leadership & IT Academy interviewed were interested in taking up premises which offered electricity, the internet and office space with shared amenities.
Snippet showing some of the tailors training - actually fulfilling a small contract order for bags from a mobile phone company. While many tailors reported working from home is their preference, others were keen to occupy affordable premises when available.
WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?
Ultimately, we would like to achieve a community of in excess of 20 small businesses, co-located within the Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise. These businesses will grow, move on and occupy bigger premises elsewhere in the city and yet remain part of the network of business relationships which sustains BeeBIZ. The vacated premises will then be used by new startups. There will be over 100 jobs created through BeeBIZ in flexible infrastructure which will be retained and reused to fulfill evolving needs of enterprise creation.
New Data processing enterprise which wants to expand into BeeBIZ.
Emmanuel Kwenyani - successful entrepreneur, already exporting & packaging for export, keen to help others do the same.
Tailored purse for local market
Current location of blockyard - to be used for BeeBIZ
Shop created by Beehive for local church.
Modest use of containers as workshops, storage & retail has been piloted.
How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?
We work regularly with the Blantyre City Assembly planning department and have support from them in improving roads and access to the township of Chilomoni. Beehive itself comprises an IT Academy, whose graduates will benefit, a tailoring & design college, a bicycle repair business, bookshop, knitwear factory, plant & vehicle hire organisation, computer hire operation, construction business, children's centre and a central team to look ofter the HR & finance support for the whole. The children's centre will provide discounted childcare to support women in BeeBIZ into work.