Ashden Winners

BuildUp Nepal / Backing green building entrepreneurs

Area of work:

Supported by Grosvenor
Play Video

Crowded housing causes health issues, disease, social conflicts and vulnerability to disasters, disproportionately affecting women and children.

The situation in Nepal was dramatically worsened by the 2015 earthquakes followed by severe flooding, destroying more than 800,000 homes. Rural communities lack the income, skills and appropriate technology to build safe earthquake resilient homes. The lack of reliable employment in rural Nepal is causing many to migrate abroad for work.

202 micro-entrepreneurs (34 women, 26 couples, 142 men) have built 4,500 homes working in 150 villages creating 2500 jobs and saving 20,610 tonnes of CO2.

1,690 people now have improved incomes as micro-entrepreneurs, brick-makers and masons. 14,296 people (8579 women and girls) are living in new, safe, earthquake-resistant, sustainable homes.

6,760 people are benefiting from improved income of family members.

"“If a woman like me can start a construction enterprise and succeed, then any woman can do it” "

Parbati Sunar, woman micro-construction entrepreneur

Read More / Related winners

Rede de Sementes do Xingu / Seed-collection network raises incomes and protects the Amazon
Region: South America
Awards Year: 2020
United Nations Development Programme Yemen / Solar microgrids bring cash and energy to conflict-hit communities
Region: Asia
Awards Year: 2020
Togolese Agency for Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy (AT2ER) / Smart and ambitious energy access strategy
Region: Africa
Awards Year: 2020

Build up Nepal started as a small team working to help poor families to rebuild their homes. They quickly realised that the only way to build on the scale required in remote villages, was to empower the locals to build earthquake resistant houses themselves, through micro-construction companies. They do this using local materials to manufacture Interlocking Compressed Stabilised Earth Bricks (CSEB).  They are used instead of fired brick, reducing both the transportation challenges to remote locations and CO2 emissions.

Recruited through word-of-mouth and local marketing, the entrepreneur invests in a manual block-making machine, guidance and materials. To aid success they are provided with comprehensive training and long-term support. When aspiring entrepreneurs are unable to fund all the start-up costs  themselves, micro finance is available through an in-country partner.

To create both confidence and demand for this ‘new technology’, the first home built in the village is used as a ‘show home’, alongside marketing materials, including an ‘inspiration homes’ catalogue illustrating the types and styles of buildings available.

Once there are several businesses in one area, the team facilitate meetings with local government engineers to explain the technology and address any concerns.  To create further confidence, they provide a government pre-approved set of building drawings for 12 house designs. This means that planning permission is quickly granted.

To ensure quality construction in rural Nepal is hard and one of Build up Nepal’s main challenges.

To ensure quality as the business grows, and more masons are employed, Build up Nepal provide comprehensive training through on-line videos and even smart-phone apps (there is a very high ownership of smart phones in Nepal) that contains all their guidance and materials. And, to make sure every house is built to a high standard, the potential new homeowner is equipped with an easy-to-check quality list at the start of the build. This enables the house owner to assess quality at each stage, of the build.

What’s the impact on customers/beneficiaries? 

Villagers in Nepal are able to gain, much needed, secure jobs across the country, supporting many women and reducing the need to migrate for work. They are developing new local skills and putting money back into their own communities, building homes to be proud of, reducing poverty and improving the quality of life. On average, each micro-enterprise builds 15 houses a year, creating at least 10 jobs.

The resilience is not just economic. By building high, quality earthquake resilient homes they are not only improving the living conditions of villagers but also insulating them from the impact of future disasters too.

Read More / Related posts

UK spending review: more needed for green schools and buildings, aid cuts a mistake / Ashden responds to Chancellor’s plans

Fair Cooling Fund pledges $580,000 to protect the most vulnerable / Grants and support for frontline solutions

Earthshot Prize: Ashden joins Prince William’s search for green innovation / Supporting ‘fix our climate’ category

This site uses cookies to provide you with the best user experience. By using the Ashden website, you accept our use of cookies.

Stay up to date

Be the first to know about our latest projects and news