AsaDuru: Self-Sufficient, Zero-Energy Communities - A New African Living Standard

Stockholm, SwedenGhana
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Our vision is to create a socially just and ecologically restorative future. Our mission is to create accessible, self-sufficient, zero-energy community housing. Communities that not only respect the earth, but are designed to be dependent on the well-being of its surrounding environment.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could create entirely self-sufficient housing communities that are accessible to the greater mass?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Africa is currently facing a massive housing crisis. 1.7 million in housing deficit in Ghana (Government of Ghana) and a staggering 12-16 million in Nigeria (World Bank), to name two examples. Today buildings consume 32% of global energy and the construction industry stand for 24% of total GHG-emissions (UN-habitat). Because of this, the design and construction of buildings have a significant effect on the probabilities of meeting the 2°C target

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

AsaDuru is creating a housing community together with administrative and social infrastructure. The homes will be built using rammed earth construction, an ancient building technique that has experienced a luxury revival in the western world during the last couple of decades. The combination of high thermal mass from rammed earth walls together with renewable energy sources, efficient appliances, sustainable consumption and economies of scale of a community sets the ground for achieving a self-sufficient community. Creating a state-of-the-art modern and sustainable living standard requires us to approach the challenge holistically.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

AsaDuru will design and manage the construction of a self-sufficient, zero-energy housing community together with social infrastructure. The homes will be built using rammed earth construction, an ancient building technique that has experienced a revival in the western world during the last couple of decades. Rammed earth walls have a high thermal mass, making them very energy efficient and significantly reducing cooling costs. Because of its simplicity, unskilled local labor can be employed. The combination of high thermal mass from rammed earth walls together with renewable energy sources, efficient appliances, sustainable consumption and economies of scale of a community sets the ground for achieving a self-sufficient community.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

As we are currently selecting the site and meeting partners for our pilot community, there is no impact to present. However, we have spread awareness of the technique and convinced a Swedish NGO to build their new development centre in Ghana using rammed earth, which we are designing. We are also collaborating with Engineers Without Borders to inspire and teach students about these issues. I vision us having a key metric ten years down the road where we are driven by the number of people that have access to decent, healthy and sustainable housing rather than the dollars made each year. Certainly financial viability is key to surviving but if that’s our only success metric then we have failed in my eyes. We must therefore measure the quantity and quality of housing, in terms of price (affordability), environmental and health impact (sustainability) and quantity (scale of impact).

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

As the housing deficit in many countries amount to millions, we realise we will never build all these homes on our own. At the same time we believe the way it is done now is extremely harmful to the environment. Our goal is that within 10 years we will be building large-scale mixed-income communities with social and administrative infrastructure, with our main customers being the low-income population. Our hope is that this will inspire other builders and developers to use appropriate technologies when trying to fill up this massive housing deficit. We want to create a replicable model.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We’ve been mapping various financing opportunities, both private and public such as Almi and Acumen. I’ve also met with the Director of Private Facilities at the Green Climate Fund, who gave the feedback that our project would be a perfect match for them. We’re planning to receive a reservation fee and initial payment from our customers before construction start, which will help us on our way towards creating AsaDuru’s first Pilot Community.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We have identified at least four other companies in Ghana who are addressing the problem using different parts of our solution. Hive Properties and Migrating Culture are both building single homes using earth, but are not addressing energy, water and waste issues. Acre Green Homes are building concrete homes in communities with solar powered streetlights but also use conventional water and energy solutions. Green Homes aim to include solar panels that compliment the grid for their luxury concrete homes pricing 400K USD (upper class). Again, energy efficiency, water & waste are not addressed.

Founding Story

In 2014 I was introduced to rammed earth through a friend, Johanna. After researching the topic and realising all the social good it could do, I wrote my thesis about whether rammed earth could be a potential solution to the Ghanaian housing crisis. As we learned more about the economics of rammed earth and its application in the developing world, the idea for AsaDuru came to life. If we can cut material costs drastically by using rammed earth instead of high energy and carbon materials like concrete, suddenly sustainable solutions like solar energy and rainwater harvesting aren’t overly expensive when building a new home. Using rammed earth could open up these solutions to an new market.


We are a team of five people from various backgrounds with a shared passion and drive to make a real change in the world and improve the way we construct and interact with buildings. - Mohamed Bedri - Business Development, Project Management, Rammed Earth-construction. - Samer Quintana - Architectural Design, Energy systems - Full-time. - George Asimakopoulos - Water & Wastewater - Full-time. - Julia Persson - Accounting, Marketing, Design, Funding - Part-time. - Nour Mabrouk - Business Development, Project Management, Civil Engineering, Energy systems - Part-time. - We are currently expanding and meeting candidates who have qualifications within real estate financing and system development. Furthermore, we have discussed partnerships with the largest rammed earth builders in the world and one of the leading architects within sustainable design. This will be crucial to manage the risks of doing such a project for the first time. They will help us shorten the learning curve and help us avoid fatal mistakes. - By 2017 we expect to have 10 full-time designers, architects and engineers based in Sweden and two full-time managers based in Ghana.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Through an internet search.

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder, CEO.

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

During 2014 I was very involved with Greenely, a Swedish Startup working with energy visualization, as a Development Engineer. My task was to brainstorm and come up with various features of Greenely’s visualization software. This experience gave me insight to the startup world; I love the long-hours and common struggle towards a bigger vision.

As a person, I love taking risk and have over the years become better at making sure they’re calculated. When starting AsaDuru last year, my philosophy was, “what is the worst that can happen?” which I use in many areas of life when I’m about to do something that seems risky. The answer is that it simply wasn’t worth missing out on the opportunity to succeed and make a massive impact on the world.

Furthermore, I have been an elite karate athlete, representing the Swedish National Team for 7 years. The life of an athlete is all about adversity, especially when you’re not paid, as is the case with karate in Sweden. Each karate tournament is eliminatory, so I would to train up to 12 sessions per week while studying full-time, fly for a tournament, fight an experienced professional for 3 minutes, lose, fly back home and do it all over again. For 7 years. Now that I think about it, it was quite crazy, but I loved every part of it. Eventually I didn’t lose and in the end I even won some international medals.

After I won my first Swedish Championship I suffered a terrible back injury that stuck with me for four years on and off. In 2012 I had to make one of the toughest (but best) decisions of my life to decline my spot for the World Championship and take a year off to rehab. The following year I came back stronger than ever before. All of these experiences have been extremely valuable and I believe will be helpful in my entrepreneurial journey.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I have met with Rick Lindsay who has become a mentor to me and also a partner within the rammed earth industry. Rick is the founder and CEO of Earth Structures Group, the largest modern rammed earth builders in the world, and he is dedicated to helping me introduce this great technology to the African market. Furthermore, I have and keep receiving very valuable advice and help from various business coaches and entrepreneurs in Stockholm, including Siimon Vaske (KTH Innovation), Donnie Lygonis (KTH Innovation), Aleksandar Subosic (Tailsweep), Magnus Rehn (STING), Karin Ruiz (STING) and more.