Partner Highlight | ETH Zurich

Bringing an initiative to life is nothing short of a miracle without the right support system around you. We have spoken about our appreciation for our partnerships but this week we would love to highlight one in particular. The Federal Institute of Technology (in short ETH) Zurich has played an enormous role in our growth from helping us structure our business and understand our financials, to forming connections with other partners like The Alliance To End Plastic Waste.

ETH Zürich is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

One of our main focus while working with ETH was allowing them access to our financials so they could help us understand our cash flow and form a business plan. Our day-to-day working partner was Christina Nakhle, who worked tirelessly to understand our past and help us plan for the future.

We asked Christina a few questions about her work with us and here is what she said:

What business challenges did you help the ASASE Foundation address by developing a sustainable business model for closing the loop?

I believe the biggest impact I have had throughout this project is assisting ASASE work through and understand the costs of operating CASH IT!. It was a challenge to structure the financial data of the business, but with the help of Dana and Hilda I was able to manage the data in such a way that we now understand the true expenditures and revenues. Additionally, through sensitivity analyses, we now know the impact of the different cost levers (e.g., process yield) on the profitability of CASH IT!. I believe that the first step to successfully managing any business is an understanding of the operational and financial data.  

Can you talk about the expected impact of your work on how CASH IT! has grown in 2020 and is set to scale up in the following 3 years?

Since we developed the CASH IT! business model and understood the biggest cost levers, Dana and Hilda know where to best focus their efforts in order to increase profitability. That is exactly what they have set out to do in 2020. They have focused their efforts on ramping up production and improving yield among other operational improvements. Efforts have also been set on growing their customer base and ensuring that there is a market for their product today and in the future with the planned scale up. With a clear business model, optimized operations, and an expanded the customer base, scale up is feasible and facilitated.

How would you like to see ETHZ engagement with the ASASE Foundation continue in the future?

The project with ASASE has been the first of its kind for me personally and I learned a lot throughout the year. I am happy that I had the opportunity to support Dana and Hilda in their strive for empowering women while tackling plastic pollution in Ghana. It was a great collaboration that I would like to see continue, especially through the upcoming national discussions on an EPR scheme. Our ETHZ team has done a terrific job in collecting data through a survey dedicated to designing an EPR scheme, and I think our expertise can be valuable for the national Ghanaian stakeholders.

Because of our partnership with ETHZ and the collaboration of a handful of others, ASASE has successfully created collection in the community with a reward for recycling scheme. We are getting ready to scale to 3 total plants processing 2’000T of plastic waste per year. And last but certainly not least we have expanded to a conversion plant in new end products in collaboration with a local entrepreneur.

Stay tuned for the next blog in which we will talk about this conversion plant…..

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