The Situation

Mr. Green Africa (MGA) is a for-profit startup company committed to connecting and accelerating the circular economy in Nairobi, Kenya. Since its founding in 2014, Mr. Green Africa has been active in the trading and processing of post-consumer plastic waste sourced from more than 1,600 waste pickers working in Nairobi’s informal recycling sector. By connecting these often socially marginalized and economically exploited waste pickers to its supply chain, the company has set into motion a circular economy business model that is technology enabled, human centered, and sustainable. The model upends the traditional exploitative and non-transparent value chain of informal recycling that is typically based on a network of middle men, brokers, and intermediate traders.

The Roadblock 

As COVID-19 emerged, the lockdowns and uncertainty delayed a previously scheduled capital raise for Mr. Green. To secure enough funds to continue to operate, Mr. Green raised a bridge round of capital and will open the previously scheduled financing in early 2021. A loan would allow the founders and management team to run the business without having to worry how to pay salaries and to push forward with pressing investments—including acquiring additional pelletizing machinery and factory space to facilitate expansion plans, opening two more trading points to increase MGA’s footprint and stay aligned with growth targets, and professionalizing their supply chain and finance departments to prepare for anticipated growth.

Open Road’s Response

With a bridge loan of $350,000 from ORA, the founders will continue to ensure that their network of 1,600+ regular and active waste pickers receive a stable income for their hard work of collecting plastics. The additional funds also unlocked Mr. Green’s ability to build its resilience and efficiency while continuing to increase the recycling rate and diverting, processing, and substituting virgin plastics with recycled plastics. The company has sold over 2,000 metric tons of fairly sourced recycled materials and built strong plastic packaging partnerships with companies such as Unilever.

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