Summary of our last ten weeks in Zanzibar!

10-01-2022 | 09:19


As three fresh, spicy, young girls (like fresh ginger tea) from three different bachelors, we came together through the minor International Entrepreneurship and Development. We are quite different from each other but what we have in common is the passion to explore the world and broaden our horizon in a useful way AND…CHAKO is in the top 3 our favorite project of IED.  


CHAKO is a social, creative and environmental enterprise from Zanzibar, Tanzania. The main focus of CHAKO is training uneducated and unemployed youth (focus on women) to create handcrafted and upcycled products from waste, especially touristic waste. CHAKO is proudly to be the very first member of World Fair Trade Organization on Zanzibar since 2018 and still the only member on whole Zanzibar. During the years CHAKO has grown from four artisans to 38. Because of this growth CHAKO recently moved to a new, larger workshop in the middle of the spice plantations. CHAKO aims to be an inspiration and example for other businesses and for the local community of Zanzibar by being a sustainable recycling company.


Our assignment can be summarized in one sentence, helping CHAKO to be a green and zero-waste organization. For our project we chose to do not the same as the previous groups, we are not bringing anything new to Zanzibar, but we create new things with what we have. So, we decided to create new products which are made by the leftover waste from the current production, like unused bottles and unused parts from the bottles to make new products. Because during collecting the glass bottles, only a rough selection is done. Many bottles cannot be used to create new products, these end up on a big pile on the workplace and cannot be thrown away due to the bad waste management on the island. The leftover glass we use to create new products out of concrete-glass material. Resulting reducing the big residual waste pile and expanding the collection of CHAKO which creates more work for the artisans.


Some of you may have doubts about the sustainable aspects of our material, because concrete is well-known as a not-sustainable material since the production of cement produces a lot of CO2-emission. But we have to keep in mind that we are tackling the problems on an island in the Global South, where the resources are very limited. In this case overseas transportation will create more CO2-emission than the cement production. Since cement is only the unsustainable part in our material, we tried to decrease the amount of cement in our concrete.


In the beginning we planned to create two product-lines, the garden-line and the bathroom-line. The garden-line consisted of plant pot and the beach umbrella base, and the bathroom-line consist of the toothbrush holder (with can also be used as a cup) and soap holder. The reason for these choices is that we want to focus on the local market especially local hotels and resorts, since we don’t see many of nice plant pot or umbrella base on the island. Furthermore, in the big products, a big amount of glass can be used and that is exactly what we want to.  


After doing research and creating prototypes, we concluded that only the beach umbrella base was a success. The mold of the plant pot was too difficult to make here, the plant pot self is also too heavy for transportation, in additional there are less interest in the plant pot from the hotel and resort, since they already have it or they don’t need that in their resorts. For the bathroom line, because these products are used in the bathroom it will be contact with water constantly.


After meetings with the of the design-coach of CHAKO and our project providers, we decided to switch to other products. Out of the previous designs, we only continued with the umbrella base. The new products created are smaller decorative products, like candle holders or tea light holders. In the last two weeks before Christmas we started to make prototypes of these new products and finished the umbrella base. One umbrella base consists of 50 glass bottles (!!!) and the small products out of one wine bottle. And, of course the plan is to produce much more than just these (almost finished) prototypes.


Now that we are in the last phase of the project, it is time to finalize the prototypes, teach the artisans how to create the products, to evaluate on the whole project and look back to the wonderful and educational time on this beautiful island.

Thanks to the lovely supports of our donors, thanks to TU Delft for providing and guiding us during this program. Last but not least, thanks to our project provider, CHAKO, for giving us this great opportunity to join your amazing and inspirational company and that we could have a small contribution to the development in Zanzibar.