From Pilot Plants to Market Zones

Image Seeding of MCR pilots plants in the early nineties has spawned offspring throughout Latin America, resulting in around 15 market zones today, as well as many growing and/or stable local markets throughout the region.
That market zones have emerged but a decade after its introduction reveals the advantages of the product and the enterprising spirit of the producers. MCR stands out in all countries as a product which can be sold in all sectors and markets.

by Kathryn Pozak   

 Seeding of MCR pilots plants in the early nineties has spawned offspring throughout Latin America, resulting in around 15 market zones today, as well as many growing and/or stable local markets throughout the region.

That market zones have emerged but a decade after its introduction reveals the advantages of the product and the enterprising spirit of the producers. MCR stands out in all countries as a product which can be sold in all sectors and markets.

Image

 From simple beginnings of 20 pilot plants in six countries in 1990, there are now some 650 workshops currently employing more than 3000 people in twelve countries. Annual MCR production in Latin America is around 3,000,000m2, about 50,000 roofs. Accumulated production has resulted in some 350,000 roofs. The EcoSouth Network has grown along with the dissemination process and has become a dynamic South-South forum for interchange about the habitat. www.ecosur.org.

“Through the MCR dissemination program in Latin America,” said Tech Award laureate Martin Melendez, “we can safely say that more than a million people have elegant, enduring and economical roofs over their heads!”

Sustainability of MCR businesses in Latin America is good and, although the survival rate of workshops varies from country to country, certain patterns do exist, such as the natural process of change of ownership, disappearance of some spontaneous workshops, and the importance of key producers for the development of market zones.

Image

The existence of around 15 market zones spread throughout seven countries has much to do with the presence of market leaders, those producers of long experience who set the standard and attract other producers. Some of the pilot plants have developed into such leaders who position the product on the local construction materials market.

The existence of a key producer for a certain time has a great impact on the development of a market zone. The length of time in which MCR is known contributes to the stability of the local market. The majority of these market leaders have produced successfully for more than seven years, some for more than a dozen years. As entrepreneurial motors they contribute to the economic dynamism of their zones.

However, we cannot forget the hundreds of producers scattered throughout Latin America who have been able to develop their own very local markets. They should not be underestimated because their markets are small. They, too, help make their local economies dynamic. Among their contributions, MCR workshops create jobs, provide a roofing material to the local public, and reduce transportation distances.

Image

The market zones help restrain migration to urban areas through job creation and provision of a product in the construction sector. Client survey results in four countries indicate that MCR tiles contribute to import substitution, and have penetrated the markets of zinc and asbestos cement sheets.

The surveys reveal that most people bought the tiles after having seen them on a roof, that the producers sell within a radius of 20km, and that the product sells in all markets. It is worth mentioning that MCR tiles are attractive to women because of their aesthetic qualities; viewed as a modern version of traditional tiles, in some areas it has become popularly known as "teja blanca" (white tiles). Around 90% of the clients would recommend it and use it again.

The market zones reveal that producers in small villages can have an impact that radiates far beyond, and the countryside can influence the towns. It is evidence of the EcoSouth strategy "to seed" workshops and see what grows. The harvest is evident in the market zones.

Image
You are here: Home Past editions Edition #6, September 2004 From Pilot Plants to Market Zones

Consultants

Estuardo QuispilloEstuardo Quispillo
Constructions technician
Spanish
Expert in construction and operation of the Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln, VSBK (HVC, Horno Vertical Contínuo)
Installation, training and setup of workshops of MicroConcrete Roofing tiles

Humour

Videos

In 2005, SofoNic has started a dual education program for masons in Nicaragua, using its house-building programs as a base. Teaming up with the local technical school in Jinotepe they are graduating about ten masons every year since. Most f them have found jobs in construction or have started a business on their own. SofoNic has contracted several of them as master masons in the reconstruction programs in Haiti.