There is no doubt that alternative building technologies (ABTs) can play an active role in solving today’s shelter problems and, indeed, in creating habitats for sustainable living inSouth Africa. ABTs are widely used across the world – with the increased need for housing and energy efficient buildings driving the demand for its implementation.
Entrepreneurs inSouth Africaare leading the way in innovation by providing sustainable building technologies. However, these entrepreneurs are faced with numerous challenges in entering the market.
It is against this backdrop that Sasol ChemCity established a platform for entrepreneurs to build on their ideas – such as ABTs – and deliver them to the market.
Sasol ChemCity is Sasol’s enterprise development vehicle, responsible for the development and support of SMEs in the energy, chemical and related industries. In so doing, the company promotes both business and economic growth.
Challenges such as the shortage of housing and skills in the building and construction industry and the need to establish local manufacturing to stimulate economic growth, is what led Sasol ChemCity to identify the opportunity to assist and establish SMEs with alternative building technologies.
The introduction of new technology coupled with the high failure rate of start-up small and medium enterprises (SMEs), substantiates the need for SME support and Sasol ChemCity strongly believes in the development of sustainable SMEs and has, therefore, positioned itself to aid growing and start-up businesses.
Sasol ChemCity’s establishment of businesses with ABTs will not only address the above mentioned problems, but will also facilitate the establishment of local manufacturing.
A challenging task
Starting up a new business is a challenging task and with the introduction of a new technology, entrepreneurs are faced with high barriers of entry to market. ABTs need to be socially accepted. Everyone knows brick and mortar; however, mindset shifts to understand modular systems can only take place through an educational journey.
Funding has always been an issue for start-up companies due to the associated high risk and more so a challenge for SMEs with new technologies. Sasol ChemCity assists the entrepreneur by either facilitating discussions with the various funding institutes or finding suitable partners that can fund the business.
Most ABT entrepreneurs only want to manufacture a component of a house, for instance, walling system or a window, however, the consumer wants a complete house. The Sasol ChemCity team has realised the need to address challenges along the entire value chain, from component manufacture to end user requirements to ensure successful entry of the new technology into the market.
Architects and engineers have begun to embrace ABTs however; sourcing them and acquiring the necessary technical information to specify the product in various applications has been a drawback. For this reason, Sasol ChemCity created a platform through which architects and engineers can be exposed to the various technologies to clearly understand its benefits and capabilities.
It ‘s important to always introduce products of a high quality into the market and for this reason Sasol ChemCity facilitates with accreditation of the ABT products through organizations such as Agrément South Africa, South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and the National Home Builder Registration Council (NHBRC).