Apart from introducing revolutionary construction technology to Rwanda, Strawtec also has a serious impact on the economy in terms of income, the balance of trade, affordable housing, skills development and job creation.
It starts of course with the suppliers of the company’s main raw material, farmers who grow wheat and maize. For them, straw was a by-product for which they had no use, so they burned it.
Today, they earn extra income from the sale of their straw to Strawtec, and they have been trained on how to handle and process it. In this way, the company injects about $1 million per year into the local straw supply chain.
It provides some 5,000 farming jobs, and has trained 1,200 farmers in straw handling, baling and storage. At its factory in the Special Economic Zone in Kigali, Strawtec employs around 100 workers, and the arrival of the company and its particular construction materials and technology in Rwanda has also resulted in the creation of specialised construction jobs.
Since 2015, Strawtec has teamed up with the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) to train nearly 1000 workers in construction techniques with its strawboards. The company pays an estimated $3 million per year to construction workers.
As a local manufacturer of construction materials, Strawtec also reduces the need for costly imports of products like cement and gypsum boards, and with time it could even become and exporter as it is the only producer of strawboards in the region.
Strawtec, being not just a producer of construction materials but also a housing developer, will also play an important role in tackling the housing deficit, particularly when it comes to affordable dwellings. That is more than necessary, as it has been estimated the Kigali alone is in need of 350,000 housing units in the next 10 years.
Currently, one Strawtec production line delivers enough panels to build 2,000 dwelling units of 50 sqm each year, at a turnkey construction cost well below $400 per square metre.