Final report

As of December 2017, Building Pioneers has concluded its operations in Bangladesh. Our final report provides important information and lessons learnt from our test production of Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) and research on Hollow Concrete Blocks (HCB). We hope that these information will be useful for individuals and organizations that want to bring much needed alternatives to Fired Clay Bricks (FCB) to Bangladesh.

  • A word of thanks to our supporters
  • Key learnings and recommendations (s. below)
  • Comparison: FCB, CSEB, HCB
  • Transformation of FCB kilns into HCB factories
  • CSEB strength test results
  • Soil testing report
  • Pictures of our CSEB pilot production

Please feel free to contact us if you need additional information!

Ava Mulla, Co-Founder, CEO




Transform FCB kilns into HCB factories in parts of Bangladesh where course sand is locally available or cost effective to buy – mainly in the north and east.


Modernize out-dated FCB kilns in parts of Bangladesh where HCB cannot be produced cost competitively due to the price of course sand – mainly in the south of Bangladesh.


Introduce more innovative building materials to Bangladesh such as wood-plastic composites (WPC), engineered bamboo etc. Bangladesh has a high demand for eco-friendly, affordable and disaster resistant construction.

by stakeholders



Enforce existing regulations to increase pressure on brick kiln owners to either shut down, upgrade or switch to HCB production.

Offer soft loans and other financial incentives (e.g. purchase guarantees for governmental construction projects) to early adopters of HCB production.

Development agencies and NGOs

Realize a pilot transformation as a proof of concept. Promote this case study among key stakeholders incl. a detailed cost analysis and technical assessment.

Create a “transformation package” by engaging key stakeholders: financial institutions for funding, private sector for machinery and training, universities for research and testing, developers for contracts, etc.

Involve brick kiln owners from the start. They should remain in business; their existing infrastructure and knowledge of the brick market will facilitate the shift.


Especially HCB machine suppliers (China and India) can play a key role in creating the pilot factory which show cases and promotes HCB production. The transformation of countless brick kilns into HCB factories is an untapped business opportunity.


We want to thank the individuals and organizations that supported us on our journey. It is because of them that we could realize the largest and most systematic test production of Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks in Bangladesh.
Thomas Knaack

Thomas Knaack


Our biggest thanks goes to Thomas Knaack, successful entrepreneur and business angel, for his major financial contribution. Thomas has been a vital part of our journey from the idea stage, through the foundation of Building Pioneers, until the end of our project in Bangladesh. He shared our vision and believed in our ability to make it happen. Thank you very much!

Dr. Md. Shariful Islam

Dr. Md. Shariful Islam


Thanks to Dr. Mohammad Shariful Islam from BUET for his passionate and tireless support and his invaluable moral backing through times of unforeseen difficulties. Dr. Islam is a key figure in improving living conditions and resilience in rural Bangladesh.

We would also like to thank the Munich Re Foundation, the Google Impact Challenge and the enorm magazine for their generous financial contributions. As a young social enterprise, we are grateful for early-stage funding opportunities and public exposure. Thanks to Social Impact Start for granting us a start-up scholarship and free office space in Hamburg, Germany.

Thanks to BUET (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) for their laboratory testing facilities, and to the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and especially its director Dr. Saleemul Huq for great networking opportunities and personal encouragement.


Ava Mulla

Ava Mulla

Co-Founder and CEO

Ava studied Industrial Engineering and Management in Germany. During an internship at the Yunus Center in Dhaka, she realized the tremendous potential for non-fired bricks in Bangladesh and decided to found Building Pioneers.

Odin Mühlenbein

Odin Mühlenbein


Odin worked as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company and co-founded two companies before. Odin supported Ava on strategic issues. His main job is Partner at Ashoka Germany and Lead of Advisory at Ashoka Globalizer.


Google Impact Challenge Germany 2016


National social venture competition. 100 projects won 10.000 each.



National social venture competition

Social Impact Start


Social start-up scholarship

Risk Award


International competition hosted by UNISDR, GRF Davos and Munich Re Foundation