Woman of the Day – Nzambi Matee

Nzambi Matee, a young environmental advocate, made headlines in March 2022 when she met with Deputy UN Chief Amina Mohammed during the Fifth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in Nairobi. They discussed plastic pollution amidst a historic resolution endorsed by representatives from 175 nations to end plastic pollution and establish an international legally binding agreement by 2024.

Nzambi, born in Nairobi in 1992, developed a passion for environmental conservation early on. After studying civil engineering at the University of Nairobi, she witnessed the environmental impact of plastic waste while working in the construction and oil and gas sectors. Determined to make a difference, she focused on finding innovative solutions to tackle the plastic waste crisis.

Kenya’s plastic waste

Despite Kenya’s ban on single-use plastics in 2017, the country still grapples with plastic waste, particularly in Nairobi, where hundreds of tons are generated daily. Nzambi’s hometown is near the Dandora dump, a sprawling site covering approximately 30 acres. Witnessing the widespread litter, she resolved to find practical ways to convert plastic waste into useful resources for her community.

With a focus on shelter as a fundamental human need, Nzambi founded her company Gjenge Makers in 2017. Operating initially from a small lab in her mother’s garden, she began experimenting with making paving bricks from plastic and sand. Her efforts gained momentum when she won a scholarship to attend a social entrepreneurship training programme in the USA, enabling her to refine her techniques further.

Building brick by brick

Today, Gjenge Makers is a thriving company, with Nzambi’s plastic bricks that are stronger than concrete renowned for their strength and durability. These bricks not only offer a sustainable solution to plastic waste management but also present an eco-friendly alternative for conscientious builders aiming to reduce their environmental impact.


Nzambi’s visionary efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2020, she was named a Young Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for her significant contributions to environmental conservation. Subsequently, in 2021, she received the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, followed by the UK Women of the Year Eco-Champion Award in 2022.

Through her dedication and innovation, Nzambi Matee continues to inspire change and make a profound impact in the global fight against plastic pollution.






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