Project Everest

Work Update

ERS Cambodia Update Week 3

Matthew Rafferty
Matthew Rafferty | Dec 18, 2017 | in Knowledge Base

It’s week 3, and the ERS team in Cambodia has shuffled along with our prototype, finally making a sale! The team is healthy and well, and so is our prototype, which has been updated to better suit the villages we have been servicing. There have been a lot of changes since the last Crowdicity post, so buckle up and please provide feedback!!

  • Our new prototype began to take shape this week, changing the rice bags with HDPE bins and a new informative brochure to replace the text heavy information sheet, which suits the new payment and sorting system:

  • Bins, paid for by the customer → 2 bins @ $10 each, purchased by ERS at $6.75 each. 

  • 1 general waste bin which the customer pays to be emptied

  • 1 bin for plastics, cardboard, and glass; emptied for free

  • Plastic bottles and cans collected separately and paid for by us by weight, but we do not supply the bags for them. 

Purchasing valuable recyclables is a major pivot point for ERS which places us in direct competition with the local "adjay" collectors. Potentially working with adjays is being explored now, as one avenue to mitigate negative impacts.


We took our newly devised prototype to nearby Chreav for implementation. In general the system was received well:

  • Our new brochure, designed by Michelle, helped us explain the system, and to reach our aim of selling the new bins outright (attached is a copy in English, the distributed brochure was translated to Khmer). From this came two sales, and proof of concept to boot.

  • Those who could not afford the outright option, expressed interest in a payment plan to join the system, while another villager showed extreme interest in the service and insisted we give them bins ASAP.

  • The waste collected from the Puok village was analysed and data was collected:

    • General waste: 48 kg

    • Green bags (Paper/Cardboard): 0.4 kg

    • Blue bags (Glass/Plastic/Cans): 3.35 kg


After gaining feedback on our prototype from both villagers and other stakeholders, the automated text service (utilising Wing/Metfone) and the education program, has been put on hold for various reasons:

  • Due to the workload, we haven’t been able to assess the scalability of the education program and hence we have put it on the 'backburner'. However, it may become useful in the coming months as an additional revenue stream.

  • Feedback on the text system showed that while phones are widespread, there is often a lack of understanding of how to text by the older generation, especially in the Puok commune. As a result the prototype is exploring simpler options, including the pre-paid punch card system and set weekly pickups, as opposed to Wing payments and variable pickup schedules respectively.


Where we plan to go from here:

  • Making the system more autonomous so that we can leave it and it stays running

  • Continue working out operating logistics for each system within the service: collection --> how will bins be collected, payment --> how will payment be collected

  • Continually improve current systems (i.e. Collection) to enable higher profitability.

  • Refining our financial models to prove that scaling the prototype can be profitable. 
edited on 18th December 2017, 03:12 by Matthew Rafferty

Edwina Jones Dec 18, 2017

Loving the hustle! Seeing as you're moving away from the WING/Metphone system, it would be good to see how you can integrate the Punch card system into the Chreav commune. Maybe shops or trusted villagers could be outlets where customers can purchase and sign up to the service. That way you have cash upfront, rather than after the waste has been collected. It will also aid in making the project autonomous and potentially help to scale the business.
Keep up the good work guys! I can't wait to get there and keep the ball rolling!

Reply 2

Alex Piatek Dec 20, 2017

This is lean, awesome progression guys!

re:WING/Metphone system

Communication through texting can be tough. Here in Timor, we have previously set up a texting service with one of the telecommunication providers, where the customers could log a job or request our services, and they could also pay using their phone credit. We also identified some people struggle with phone operations, however, after brainstorming and talking to locals, utilising a universal coded system would be viable. This means the customer only needs to text you one letter or one number to communicate what service they are requesting.

You set up a list of reasons why your customer would text you then assign a code for each reason. For example:
Texting '1' means pick up one bag
Texting '2' means pick up two bags
Texting '3' means bag needs repair or replacement

You could have these codes displayed on a sticker that is attached to the bag/bin or a card they keep in their wallet with all the codes listed. The card was identified as more personal as it felt like a membership.

Reply 2

Andrew Vild Jul 2, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

Reply 0