Hennie Botes founded Moladi in 1986, after building a global business as an entrepreneur and inventor. His ability to think outside the box has led him to found a company that is revolutionizing the affordable housing market through design, innovation, and good-old fashioned ingenuity.
Can you tell us about how Moladi came about? How did you come up with the concept?
Let’s start at the beginning. As it happened, my first invention was a plastic baby bath that fit across the bathtub and gave young mothers an easy and safe way to bathe their newborn children. The design was sold the world over, and gave me the freedom to found Moladi.
Moladi was the result of my own difficulties with building with brick and mortar.
In South Africa, and many developing countries, we still suffer from a colonial mentality. Our education system does not teach us how to plant and grow food or build things. And that is a tragedy. Africa will have to uplift itself, and learn how to build things itself.
The challenge for so many local housing developments is the lack of skill. We know how difficult it was to put bricks on top of each other in a straight line, and, once the wall is built, to plaster it.
Moladi was a way I saw to build a construction system which could evolve into a job-creation tool itself, since it does not require skilled labor – in fact, over 90% of a construction team on a Moladi housing site consists of unskilled laborers.
My first attempts at building the right mold was not exactly a success but the geese on the farm got a dam as result. Gradually, and this the way with all innovation, you learn from your mistakes. The result was the Moladi building system.
Grassroots Economics is a non-profit foundation that seeks to empower marginalized communities to take charge of their own livelihoods and economic future. We focus on community development through economic empowerment and community currency programs. Beneficiaries of our programs include small businesses and people living in informal settlements as well as rural areas. GE is proud to have a rich history in community development programs thanks to it’s many partners.
Our goal is to improve the lives of those who are most vulnerable. We use approaches such as participatory education and in-depth research and community profiling to understand needs and design programs with meaningful impacts.
In 2010, we began the first pilot programs in Mombasa and Nairobi, which were awarded as one of the top innovations in Africa at the Forum Afrique in Paris. Thus far, our community currency programs have been supported by organizations in France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, and the United States.
Over the last two years, GE (formerly known as Koru-Kenya) has grown tremendously in the number of people we serve and the expansion of our currency programs. At this point we are close to our maximum programming capacity, with nearly all of our programs and services fully booked through the end of this year. Yet demand continues to grow. After winning a precedent setting court case, community currencies were deemed legal by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the groundwork has been created to expand these currencies wherever communities are unable to access the national currency.
A community currency is a regionally based means of exchange that does not replace but rather supplements the national currency system. Through increasing trade by matching unmet local needs with under utilized local resources, community currencies enable sustainable environmental and social development programs. Community Currencies are distinct from the wider field of financial innovations because they are set up with the asset and productive capacity backing of the communities that will ultimately use them.
The Ecotopia 2121 Project sets out to represent 100 cities throughout the world as they would appear in the year 2121 — if they’ve managed to survive and become super eco-friendly.
Over three years of research, fieldwork, seminars, travel, discussion, theorizing, writing, and drawing — a compendium of 100 illustrated stories was assembled together about how 100 cities from around the world can transform into Green Utopias by the year 2121AD. The 100 selected cities include famous places like London, New York and Paris but also some faraway places you’ve probably never heard of. Also included are mysterious cities like El Dorado, Timbuktoo, Xanadu and Shangri La — which may sound like fantasy and fiction but, actually, they’re all real cities.
Go to: http://www.ecotopia2121.com/
It is truly a tall order to fully understand the contribution of housing to growth, welfare and prosperity among individuals and societies. The field is generally under-researched and under-funded. Where there is research, it is often concentrated on a specific issue within a topical area such as: the link between labour market mobility and housing availability; the effect of poor housing on individual health outcomes, or the macro-economic risk of increased household indebtedness.
Rarely does housing research capture, or attempt to capture, the full socio-economic and dynamic effects of housing on individuals and society. Still, housing is affected by, and in turn affects, most other societal areas from architecture to private sector development. An obvious explanation is that housing markets are too complex to be described by unitary market equilibrium models and would require an empirical basis for submarket modelling. This, however, has not been embraced in applied research to any greater extent and, when it’s been done, it has been subject to inconsistency. The likely implication of this is that the effects of a functional, or indeed a dysfunctional, housing market may be both under-estimated and under-valued in literature and policy-research.
A successful city is economically and culturally vibrant, healthy, safe, clean and attractive to business and tourism, and provides quality of life to its citizens. This vision is appealing but remains hard to realize as developing cities have to cope with changing demographics and climate with limited financial and human resources. The sustainable development goals have given a new impetus for cities to be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG11), ensure citizens’ health and wellbeing (SDG3) and secure access to sustainable water and sanitation services (SDG6).
World Toilet Day on November 19th is the opportunity to remind ourselves of a few facts and propose a set of guiding principles for a renewed and revitalized urban sanitation agenda.
Many cities struggle to deal with the most basic municipal task of managing human excreta. Some are effectively “drowning” in human waste. Urban population growth continuously outpaces gains in improved sanitation access and, globally, Only 26% of urban excreta is deemed to be safely managed. The results? Environmental degradation, endemic disease leading to mortality and morbidity, especially among children, poor school attendance and performance, low productivity, constraints on the delivery of essential urban services such as housing, transport, safe water and drainage, and, ultimately, limits on economic growth and urban development. In short,
For a while now I’ve had an issue with both the term and the definition of ‘urban design’. What exactly is it? Compare it to architecture or planning, which are professions that are easy to define and identify, even to a child’s mind. At its most simple level, architects design buildings, while planners design cities. We understand those roles because they have boundaries and actions that give them a clear identity. But not so for urban design.
We can all identify a well-designed space when we see it, but what part of this is due to good contemporary design? Did it come about due to robust planning policies that encouraged a vibrant mix of uses? Was it due to the active participation of community groups? For most projects, it is probably of all the above… and then some more. What we understand to be urban design involves a broad spectrum of disciplines, such as landscape architects, planners, architects, engineers, etc. In addition, there is the involvement of the public, government agencies, and developers. It’s clearly a ‘team effort’ to produce good urban design interventions.