Celebrating Black Entrepreneurship: Meet Ousman Touray of Phioneers

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Mariam Katamadze
September 29, 2021

Phioneers: Improving the quality of life by creating unimaginable realities through sustainable and eco friendly architecture engineering and technology

What is an Eco-Home?

There's no denying that today's renters are more ecologically conscious than previous generations. Sustainability is a big buzzword these days, and it's affecting a lot of various aspects of our lives, including real estate.  

The rise of the ‘eco-home' is a concept that has gained hold in the UK, altering developers' perceptions of the market as a whole. These eco-friendly structures are designed and built in a completely different way than regular properties, and are sometimes referred to as "environmentally sensitive," "sustainable," or "green homes." These properties are environmentally friendly without compromising on traditional measures, often prioritising eco-friendly materials and renewable energy over traditional measures.

Fundamentally, an eco-house will reduce environmental impact at every touchpoint, such as the amount of energy it consumes and its impact on the local ecology. Eco-friendly properties are not only socially conscientious, but also practical in terms of lowering outgoing expenditures, thanks to the locally produced, green materials they use and design features that decrease emissions and lower the overall carbon footprint. Eco-homes can also help to create a healthier internal environment and a more sustainable way of life for a generation that is more concerned about environmental issues. When low-running expenses are taken into account, energy efficiency is frequently the top factor for choosing an eco-friendly home.

According to the government's Future Homes Standard, announced earlier this year, the future of British homes is net-zero, or will be by 2025. Its goal is for all new homes in the UK to be extremely energy-efficient, zero-carbon ready, and equipped with low-carbon heating.

About Phioneers

Phioneers are visionary engineers who aspire to improve people's lives through intelligent architecture. Phioneers strive to build in an environmentally friendly way, combining three fundamentals: environmental, economic, and social sustainability. They worked with our Sustainable Innovation programme to research best practices for constructing eco-friendly buildings in Ghambia, using local materials. The collaboration resulted in:

  • A small collection of literature reviews
  • A review of standards and build requirements
  • A standards procedure setup
  • Sample testing

The team were testing the strength of 'bricks' made from compacted hay covered in concrete. Concrete is 'one of the most destructive materials on earth', so replacing the majority of a concrete block with organic material could, in theory, drastically reduce the carbon output of Ghambia's building industry whilst making building materials vastly more affordable.

Phioneer's Founder & CEO, Ousman Touray (middle) with LSBU Academic, Dr Rabee Shamass (left) and Research Assistant, Abdullah Quban (right)
About Ousman Touray

Ousman Touray is the entrepreneur behind Phioneers. He is a civil engineer with a long history of engineering project management. Throughout his career, he worked on projects such as HS2, Essex Highways Maintenance, and the Wimbledon Station Line Enhancement Project. He currently leads a portfolio of thousands of telecoms infrastructure projects across Africa.

Ousman is passionate about sustainable development, eco-friendly technology and empowerment led to him founding Phioneers.

Ousman has recently been selected as a 2020 Top 5 BAME under 50 Entrepreneur by TechRound UK. He is also a STEM ambassador. Diversity & Inclusion ambassador, and Mentor for the Project Management Institute.

For Black History Month, we spoke to Ousman Touray to discuss his product and his experience as a Black Entrepreneur in Sustainablity industry.

Hello Ousman, Tell us a little about yourself?

In the daytime I am a Portfolio Manager in the World of Engineering and Construction, and outside working hours I am a husband, dad and ecopreneur. My favourite quote is “be the change that you wish to see in the World”.

Describe your innovation in a sentence?

We are developing a low-cost eco-friendly housing solution for people living under the poverty line to provide homes where they can find comfort and share greater memories with their loved ones.  

How did you discover the issue that your innovation addresses?  

The lack of truly affordable housing is an issue that I have seen in many of the places I have lived or visited in Africa and Asia.  

Ousman Touray, Founder of Phioneers and 'Ecopreneur"

What stage are you at in product development?

We are at the MVP/prototype development stage.  

What’s next for you and your business?

Develop our first DWLBL community and go on to roll it out into the rest of Africa and beyond. We also have other products/ideas that we will be designing in the background.  

What is your top tip for other People of Colour developing new products?

Be open to feedback and be ready to talk to a lot of people. Get your name out there and be prepared to not have all the doors you knock on open up for you. Just keep on knocking and use the losses as lessons to move forward. The most amazing inventions, people or ideas were rejected the greatest number of times before they became successful.  

What do you think is the most important issue that tech entrepreneurs should be addressing?

Naturally, tech entrepreneurs are developing solutions to challenges that they have witnessed or experienced. It’s hard to point at one particular issue but I think more focus should be put into making products and services more accessible and affordable for the less fortunate.  

Finally, which person, living or dead, would you invite to dinner and why?

Sir David Attenborough – I have so much respect for him and how he’s dedicated the majority of his life to studying and showcasing the vast natural habitat that the World has been blessed with, and most importantly, advocate for the preservation and protection of what remains of it.  

Find out more about Phioneers at Phioneers.com.

Are you looking for support to test sustainable alternatives for use in the Built Environment Sector? Sustainable Innovation's Cohort 3 will open for applications in November 2021. Find out more on the Sustainable Innovation Home Page.