A youth group in Embu has ventured into brick making business as a way of promoting the construction of affordable housing under the government’s Big Four agenda.
The group known as Tri- K is making bricks from road construction soil waste from Upper Tana Natural Resource Management Project (UTaNRMP).
According to Jonah Njeru Njiru, the chairman, Tri K, the youths from Kavengero, Kanyuambora and Karingiri areas came together to assist their colleagues who had been affected by drug abuse and other vices.
“We registered the group in December 2005 with the aim of helping the orphans and our colleagues hooked into drugs and those affected by HIV,” Mr. Njeru observed.
Njeru said after realising they were aging and with growing financial demands, they decided to venture into business and they started with bodaboda, with one motorbike. However, they were forced to sell it and bought a probox after they realized half of the profit was going to repairs.
“Apart from the taxi business, we decided to contact UTaNRMP who gave us a loan of Sh 920,000 through the International Fund for Agricultural Development with which we bought a compressing machine at Sh 490,000 and the rest we bought materials to start the brick business,” he further noted.
He also said they were helped by department of housing through training on how to make bricks and now the business is doing well.
The chairman said they are not only selling the bricks but also building houses for their clients.
We recommend to the clients to allow us to build for them to ensure we take care of our bricks and to avoid careless handling of the bricks that will affect our market,” he added.
He said they are selling one brick at Sh. 25 getting a profit of Sh. 7 after cost of production of Sh. 18.
However, he noted the price will go high to Sh. 35 which is normal price for the bricks after establishing themselves in the market.
He said though the price of their bricks are a bit costly compared to conventional (kilned) bricks, he however noted they reduce cost of construction for they are interlocking bricks which do not require sand and cement; “Our bricks are environment friendly for we do not require woods for kiln hence saving forests,” he added .
“We want to contribute to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big four agenda especially on affordable housing after we realized only the rich can afford good houses,” he noted.
Ms. Muthoni Nyaga, who is a member of the group appreciate the group and is proud to be a member saying since she joined the group she has learnt a lot.
“Through this group am now a certified mason apart from other skills like brick making; I cannot regret joining the group,” she noted with confidence.
Her counterpart Fridah Nyaga added that through Tri K, they have received respect from the neighbouring community for the work and contribution they are offering to the community.
UTaNRMP Land and Environment Coordinator Paul Njuguna said interlocking bricks are more environmental friendly than the conventional ones. Conventional bricks require firewood for curing them in a kiln leading to felling down of trees.
‘’We are encouraged by what Tri-K group is doing,” said Njuguna adding that apart from the Sh923, 000 grant, they also trained the youth on finance, group dynamics, and efficiency and effectiveness for the project’s sustainability.
Njuguna said out of the 2,640 community interest groups that they have funded in the last seven years, 320 of them participated in activities related to environmental management such as tree nurseries and brick making.
Tri-K Group is also working closely with Kenya Forestry Services and runs a seedlings nursery.
By Kimani Tirus