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In 1998, Hurricane Mitch rendered 20% of the Nicaraguan population homeless. The country’s official unemployment rate is around 6%, but a significant percentage of people are underemployed, and, in certain rural regions, unemployment runs as high as 85%. Deforestation remains a pressing concern. At the confluence of these challenges emerges Ben Sandzer-Bell, who is providing real opportunities for affordable, durable housing, while creating steady jobs and harvesting materials through a process that proves sustainable practices can prevail in Nicaragua. Why is CO2 exciting to Agora? Because the team is driving brand new sources of income for Nicaraguans while generating long-term housing with environmentally-friendly materials. Beyond its existing focus on rural Nicaragua, CO2 Bambu is positioning itself to be the provider of choice for post-disaster housing — ushering in an era where replacement housing isn’t a temporary, but rather, a permanent solution to crisis.

 

What They Do: 

Construct sustainable housing for marginalized populations in remote areas of Nicaragua and post-disaster regions (e.g., Haiti) using guadua bamboo as the primary raw material. CO2 Bambu aims for highly profitable operations while facilitating community development through job creation and ecologically beneficial harvesting practices.

 

 

Why They Do It:

Natural disasters create large-scale destruction that compounds existing affordable housing deficits in much of the developing world. CO2′s customers – governments, NGOs, and private parties – need fast delivery of housing solutions, at highly competitive price points, that can be deployed in hard to reach areas. The firm exists to address this need and to do so in a sustainable manner.

 

How They Make an Impact:

As mentioned, at the core of CO2 Bambu’s operations is a commitment to sustainable harvesting and community development. Specifically, they track:

  • Hectares of (bamboo) trees planted
  • Percent of eco-houses built considered to be “affordable housing”
  • Jobs created in high unemployment areas

 

Where They’re Heading:

CO2 Bambu seeks to address a greater portion of the base-of-the-pyramid housing market in Latin America, which by some estimates represents over $300 billion. Additionally, they are demonstrating themselves to be a reliable partner in post-disaster reconstruction efforts, most specifically now by securing contracts in Haiti.