Building with waste materials - an alumnus story of Kevin Mureithi
Kevin Mureithi (36) was born in Kenya and came to the Netherlands in 2013 to study Environmental Science and Technology at at IHE Delft. Afterwards he studied Clean Tech Based Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Delft University. After returning to Kenya, Kevin founded his own company, called EcoBlocks & Tiles, which focusses on sustainable building materials.After finishing his bachelors in Applied Horticulture and Horticultural Business Services, Kevin worked as an environmental intern at Self Help Africa, an NGO focussed on supporting farmers through technical advice on sustainable farming. This was something he enjoyed immensely, and his interest in environmental and sustainable work only expanded from there, and he wanted to learn more about the field. Kevin chose to come to the Netherlands after a recommendation from a colleague. “I was looking for another study programme after my bachelor’s degree and my colleague Hope Mwanake spoke very highly of IHE Delft and the courses. I could also receive a scholarship if I would go to the Netherlands, which made the choice relatively easy.”Strange food habitsKevin adapted to life in the Netherlands quite easily, although he had to get used to some Dutch cultural peculiarities, such as punctuality. “In Africa, punctuality is not as important as in the Netherlands, so when I had my first class at IHE Delft, I was amazed that everyone was present at 08.45 am, and the lecturer also started on time. I also thought Dutch food habits were very strange, especially that you only have one hot meal in a day and bread and cheese for lunch. So no, I did not like that unfortunately.” Kevin also had to adjust to the Dutch abrasiveness. “I passed a test with 96% and was really happy, but my teacher only made a comment about the questions I had wrong” he laughs.Kevin currently works at EcoBlocks & Tiles, a company he founded in September 2015. “I actually attended a conference organised by Nuffic in 2014, called African Works Conference. Students could pitch their ideas for a start-up company related to their studies. I won the contest with a pitch about sustainable building materials and got really interested in entrepreneurship, and then had the opportunity to study Clean Tech Based Innovation at TU Delft, which was also incredible. The next year, I got some capital from a Dutch NGO called VIA WATER…, and I started my firm. Strong Holland Alumni Network in KenyaKevin is also a member of the Kenyan Holland Alumni network and connected to the IHE Delft alumni network. “Through colleagues I learned about the Holland Alumni network and I still go to events organised by the alumni association. Sometimes there are also conferences in Kenya, so the Holland Alumni network is very strong here.” Kevin has been back a few times since leaving the Netherlands, and misses one thing above all: the bikes. “Everyone bikes, from the king to your whole cabinet. The first week at IHE Delft, I also met the director of the university in the bike shed, which was very funny, this would never happen in Kenya.”The Orange Knowledge Programme - the successor of the Netherlands Fellowship Programme - is a € 220 m Dutch global development programme, available in 54 developing countries and managed by Nuffic, a Dutch non-profit organisation for internationalisation in education. Launched mid-2017, it aims to have provided tens of thousands with the possibility to change their future through education and training by mid-2022. The programme is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Information about scholarship opportunities under the Orange Knowledge Programme can be found www.studyinholland.nl/okp.