11 days to International Youth Day – Recent statistics we came across suggested that the number of mobile phones sold every day was more than the world’s average birth rate which clocks 371 000 per day and with a high consumption of electronics and this years’s theme focused on sustainable production and consumption and eradication of poverty we thought it would be worth shining a light on the work of the young Kenyan, Alex Mativo.
After witnessing problems in his community caused by toxic pollutants from electronic waste, Alex decided that he wanted to tackle the growing environmental problem facing his country. As a result of the pollutants released when waste was disposed of incorrectly, life expectancy in the area was reduced and health complications were common. In response to the problem Alex founded E-lab, a start-up that aims to reduce electronic waste in Africa by making art, fashion and other innovative products out of it. The organisation also promotes a culture of safe and responsible e-waste disposal. (Source: http://www.queensyoungleaders.com)
Here is what Alex had to stay on the importance of sustainable consumption and production:
I founded E-LAB (a company that eradicates electronic waste through art) because I believed that of all the unchangeable things in the world, our biological nature that requires clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy must be adhered to and protecting the planet should be our highest priority or else we sicken and die.
Alex tells us more about E-Lab
With rapid industrialisation, millions of people across the world discard electronic waste haphazardly and causing an increase in the amount of e-waste in Africa because we have no legal barriers banning foreign nations from disposing this waste on the continent. Many communities across the continent have been vastly affected by the high concentrations of toxins from electronic waste, which lead to devastating health effects. I therefore founded E-Lab, an Afrofuturist brand that eradicates electronic waste by transforming it into jewellery and furniture. We began by changing the African model of design to create a brand that benefits communities, culture and the environment, and rethinks the way products are created in developing countries. To reach this goal, we came up with innovative ways of eradicating electronic waste and worked with artists to incorporate the African heritage into the products. Each item has a unique trademark directly from its maker. All the products are crafted in social projects in communities where high concentrations of toxins from electronic waste have devastating health effects. The projects are designed to empower local communities and create employment opportunities. We have developed a line of products offering consumers an opportunity to participate in a different kind of market; one that has a depth and story that is lost in fast fashion. E-Lab enhances collaboration among African creatives and provides sustainable livelihoods in affected communities while also addressing waste streams and development challenges. We intend to empower our consumers to express their creativity and uniqueness through our products.
E-Lab has had a tremendous impact over the last year we have been in operation. We have grown from a start-up to a fully operational company within one year and this has led to the mopping up of 2000 tons of electronic waste from households, dumpsites and industries in Kenya. The amazing platforms that we have got have enabled us to create a city wide awareness of our campaign intended to spark a culture of safe and responsible e-waste disposal and showcase it globally. E-Lab has also created employment opportunities for full time employees and other numerous individuals that we hire, by creating niche markets in the fashion and art industries.
Our two years plan is to build a transparent supply chain that rethinks the way production has always been done. We will setup a crowdsourcing eCommerce platform for our products where we will only produce the products backed up and demanded by our consumers. The proceeds from the products are invested in clearing tons of electronic waste from badly affected communities in Africa. 4.
Alex’s message to other young people:
I believe in the power that young entrepreneurs have to change the continent. Their role in achieving the SDGs would be leveraging the numerous opportunities in various sectors of the economy and foster strong networks that would help them achieve this goals.
The Commonwealth Youth Council thanks Alex for his work to help the world achieve SDG12 AND SDG1! Alex Mativo is certainly a social entrepreneur as he solves an environmental problem with an enterprise whilst alleviating other people out of poverty – Congratulations!