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poor know concrete…
nations many of the homes and buildings are built with
concrete or some type of cement-based materials.
Unfortunately, people with very little money make some
of the world’s poorest concrete.
they have years of experience building with these
materials. If they use their skill correctly they can
make their lives better with the materials that they
know best. This skill and good tools can combine to
elevate many out of the grip of poverty.
Turn what they know into income…
The easiest way out of poverty is to take an existing
skill and turn it into a regular income. Investing in
Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) leverages these
skill sets to improve living conditions for
communities. The entrepreneurial spirit of the
skill-based SME spreads the income between many workers
and provides a prescription to help to solve poverty on
a larger scale.
Poverty has created a
situation where skill is trumped by reality. Because of
the lack of funds, skilled concrete workers are forced
to improvise and use shovels to mix concrete on the
ground. This mixing system creates poor quality block,
concrete and mortar, which in turn creates weak
structures that fail and need replacing after every
disaster or storm. This repeating cycle can be stopped
if some simple equipment is introduced into the process.
The industrialized world stopped this cycle with
mechanical mixing devices. A group of small and
medium concrete services could put an end to the failing
concrete and devastation in poor countries as well.
Small and Medium Concrete
With the goal to Build Back Better and a desire to decentralize the rebuilding
efforts, it is logical to create small and medium sized
enterprises that meet these objectives. Many small
concrete services can produce quality ready-mix,
concrete building block and other construction materials
for their own towns or neighborhoods.
Entrepreneurs will create a living wage for many workers
as they supply the concrete to construction projects in
all corners of the country. Further, the building
material supply chain will be enhanced as these concrete
SME’s establish locations closer to the communities that
• Ready-mix concrete
• Concrete block (CMU) manufacturing
Concrete placement and finishing
• Concrete and masonry trades training
• Debris removal and recycling
Small and Medium Ready-mix
Even the simplest permanent
housing design includes a concrete foundation. Most
specify a slab of concrete as the flooring system on
which the structure is anchored. Some use additional
concrete for columns or walls.
A small ready-mix
enterprise could easily supply several of these
foundations and other needs each day. Using a simple
hand-loaded mechanical mixer, a crew of 4 to 6 workers
could supply quality concrete to homeowners or to a
concrete finishing crew.
During a community
one or two small
ready-mix crews could quickly move up rows of homes,
producing batch after batch of material for other crews to finish.
A medium sized ready-mix
would use a increased capacity mechanical mixer and
support the work with a tractor to improve
efficiency. Mixers with the capability to produce a
cubic meter at a time will allow the mid-size
entrepreneur to complete more foundations or concrete
pours each day. Each developing country has thousands of
homes that need concrete for floors and walls. Many of these homes are planned to be
built in communities without access to any concrete services.
With these ambitious targets, there will be many
business opportunities in the ready-mix production
sector for motivated entrepreneurs. As the NGO’s,
banking and government groups work together to establish
SME’s in concrete services, thousands of workers will have the ability to lift their
local economies using current skills.
Small and Medium Block
Concrete Masonry Units or CMU’s
are the most common building block for construction.
Thousands of workers know how to build using
these products. The problem is that once you travel out
away from populated areas, the quality of the blocks
Quality CMU’s are produced
with a standard recipe of coarse sand, cement and
extreme pressure. The machinery to produce a quality
block can be simple or very sophisticated. Small
concrete block manufacturing operations can produce a
quality block if it is done correctly. The problem is
that currently many do the material mixing on the ground
and skimp on powdered cement. Then instead of using
mechanical pressure, they form the blocks by hand.
By allowing entrepreneurs access to the correct
equipment to mix and compress blocks, the home builders
would receive better CMU’s to work with. In addition,
the block supply chain would benefit from a decentralized manufacturing network that would allow
smaller communities to be supported by local SME’s. Larger towns or regions can be supplied by expanded
block manufacturers with a medium sized operation.
Securing the concrete block manufacturing equipment
will require a significant investment between various
factions in order to support individual business
people. But the market for block will require that hundreds of thousands of CMU’s be produced for many
years to come. Block manufacturing facilities will employ thousands of workers to keep up with the demand. When commercial and industrial buildings are included
the numbers will really climb for this product sector.
There are a several supply chain business opportunities
that will naturally spring-up
from both ready-mix production and block manufacturing.
These include the delivery of Portland cement bags and
the mining and delivery of sand and rock. As the
specifications for quality raw materials improve,
there will be many jobs created to screen and size the
raw sand and rock prior to delivery. Cement bagging
operations are generally centralized and owned by
multinational firms, but still employ many local workers.
All of these products will require
trucking resources to move the supplies to the end
users. We foresee a vibrant trucking opportunity in the rural areas of the country, just to supply ready-mix and
Placement and Finishing…
industrialized world contractors or for-hire businesses
leverage their skills in the building trades into
business ventures. The home construction segment
is a combination of for-hire built and self-construction
projects. SME’s that support the building of homes,
schools, churches and other small to mid-sized projects
should find plenty of opportunity during the rebuilding
Some of the entrepreneurs may combine
ready-mix production and concrete for hire businesses
under one umbrella.
There will be an enormous number
of block projects completed in all corners of the
country; there should be many opportunities for skilled
masons to find work. Some may also follow the
contracting/for-hire path into a SME. Masonry projects
of almost any size will require hiring several workers
and can only add to the employment rolls.
Concrete and Masonry Trade Schools…
One of the stated goals of the
international development community is to improve the
education and skills of the people. Following a
disaster, bad concrete and masonry work get's a great
deal of attention. This issue is
fertile ground for those who wish to improve the quality
of these cement-based trades.
SME’s that are
focused on vocational or peer to peer training in
concrete production, construction engineering, masonry
application or building design should have a strong
market for students.
Engineering and construction
graduates from the University system should be given the
entrepreneurial opportunity to train the next generation
of skilled construction workforce.
Concrete Debris Removal and
Following the January 2010 Haiti
quake there were millions of cubic meters of rubble to
be removed, recycled and then reused. Forward thinking
entrepreneurs can use modern tools and
equipment to form unique SME’s to address this issue.
Already there are many paid employment opportunities in
this space, but many more could be created by these
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs…
In Haiti, the plan is to rebuild the infrastructure, roads,
buildings and homes using the Haitian people. The
five-year goal is 400,000 permanent housing units and
500,000 construction jobs. Most of these homes and those
jobs will fit within the current skill of the Haitian
workforce. They will just need some assistance to move
the plan forward. The same development process will work
in most emerging countries.
What Can We
The list of issues and roadblocks to
building better homes may seem long and everyone
knows that some things will take many years to complete.
But one thing is true: the poor know concrete and they
understand cement-based construction. It is time to give
these skilled workers the tools, training and help that
will allow them to rebuild their country with their own
hands. We can provide them with the opportunity to
profit from several Small and Medium Concrete
Our equipment design and
manufacturing team is uniquely qualified to assist in
this process. For over 17 years we have lead the small
and medium concrete mixer industry in the USA. We have
assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs to enter or to
improve their businesses using specialized concrete
mixing equipment and services. Our team includes skilled
engineers, manufacturing experts and experienced
marketers. We have designed and sent into service
thousands of pieces of equipment for the ready mix
concrete industry. We have created business
operational manuals and training courses to support
varying concrete business systems. Our staff includes
experts in supply chains, concrete precasting,
construction management and business management. It is
our intention to combine our skill with government or nongovernment organizations to benefit the Haitian
concrete construction industry. We can do something to help Haiti
build back better. Reach out to us today; we want
Bruce Christensen of the
Cart-Away Project Haiti team.
503-434-4444 (Portland, Oregon)