Our History

Our Values

The EarthEnable team

Gayatri Datar

Co-Founder and CEO

Gayatri Datar is the co-founder and CEO of EarthEnable. Prior to founding  EarthEnable, her experience in international development has spanned the  private, public, and NGO sectors with a focus on monitoring and evaluation,  impact investing/social entrepreneurship, energy access, and agriculture.

Gayatri has served as a Senior Consultant at Dalberg Global Development  Advisors and held roles with the World Bank, the Government of Liberia’s  Department of Revenue, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the  International Finance Corporation, and grassroots NGOs in India, Namibia,  Nicaragua, Albania, and the United States. She holds a BA in Economics  from Harvard College, an MPA/ID from the Harvard Kennedy School, and  an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she was an  Arjay Miller Scholar.



Rick Zuzow holds an M.S. in biochemistry from Stanford University and a dual B.A. in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Integrative Biology from the University of California Berkeley. Over his 15+ year career in science he has worked on biological questions including: the origin of multicellularity, how bacteria know what time it is, and why some bacteria make petroleum-like compounds. Rick’s overarching goal is to unite science and design to solve problems facing the base of the economic pyramid. He has worked in multiple university laboratories and has experience both in human-centered design and numerous fabrication methods.

Rick co-founded EarthEnable and utilized his chemistry background to develop the varnish production process used by the company, including designing and fabricating the low cost and safe reactor used to produce the varnish. He currently manages much of EarthEnable’s research and development, particularly related to improvements in the floor and varnish production processes.

Board of Directors

Senior Team

EarthEnable actively promotes equal hiring practices and values representation. We prioritize developing  leadership from across our teams and investments in professional development.

Lina Ng’inja

Chief Of Staff

Angela chemmoss

Director of Operations

Edouard A Cyuzuzo

Rwanda Managing Director

Elysee Mutangana

Uganda Managing Director

Athanase Nzayisenga

Research & Development Director

Jonathan Dushimimana

Senior Systems


Rwanda Finance


Uganda Finance


Rwanda Regional Manager West and south

Jean De Dieu Niyonsenga

Rwanda Regional Manager North and east


Regional manager

Mwine Babylon Ambition

Regional manager

Frequently Asked Questions

An earthen floor is an ancient flooring technique that has been revived and modernized in recent years and is especially popular in the western United States. Earthen floors are made from natural materials that can be sourced locally (laterite, sand, clay and water) and layered to make a surface that is as strong and resilient as possible.

First, a laterite layer is applied on a flat, compacted foundation, with manual compaction helping keep the laterite layer level and strong. Next, a screed layer, which is made of sand and clay is applied and trowelled flat. The floor is then sealed by a layer of drying oil that polymerizes (plasticizes) as it dries to form a plastic-like resin on the floor.

In the US, boiled linseed oil is traditionally used. However, boiled linseed oil is expensive and is not locally available in Rwanda and slightly noxious. So our co-founder Rick Zuzow formulated an alternative oil that converts flaxseed oil into a similarly performing varnish/drying oil. Our varnish is green and healthy, free of the noxious fumes found in boiled linseed oil is produced at a fraction of the cost of linseed-based varnish. As a result, we are able to provide durable and healthy floors that are 70% cheaper than the only alternative, concrete.

We charge about $2.50 US dollars per square meter for a floor that we estimate will last 10-15 years. A typical home is 25 square meters, costing 63 USD. Customers pay in three installments, and often build one room at a time, which self-finances the floor. 

Our varnish is completely safe for people including our customers and employees who work with it on a day-to-day basis. Our varnish is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and poses no health risks.

EarthEnable has a hybrid organizational structure. EarthEnable, Incorporated is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in the United States that 100% owns EarthEnable Rwanda and EarthEnable Uganda, both of which are for-profit enterprises in Rwanda and Uganda. This structure reflects our deep commitment to our social mission of improving health for the world’s poor as well as our belief in market-based solutions. Any profits generated by the for-profits in Rwanda and Uganda (and any future for-profit subsidiaries in other countries) will be directly donated to the nonprofit umbrella organization to fund start-up costs in new markets and further R&D.

Roughly 10% of our clients get free floors, but this is exclusively for new technique testing. For example, we install free “innovation floors” for our masons to test a new technique a few times each year (e.g. a new material, method, or embellishment such as color and tiles). We also build free floors for some customers during monthly community service days (Umuganda). Additionally, we work with local leaders to select families that cannot afford to build a floor and partner with community members to build their floors for free. 

In the US, earthen floors last 20-30 years as long as they are maintained with a fresh coat of varnish every few years. In Rwanda, given that floors are typically washed every day, we anticipate that the floor will last 10-15 years and that revarnishing will be required every few years.

Revarnishing is easy and can be done by customers themselves. They can simply purchase a bottle of varnish and re-apply according to our floor maintenance manual and as they see fit. If customers would rather have one of our trained employees re-apply the varnish, we send someone over for free during the regular warranty period of six month and for a small fee.

There are multiple studies which cite dirt floor replacement as a possible health intervention with potential for big impact in the developing world. A study conducted in Mexico showed that replacing a dirt floor with a concrete floor has the potential to reduce diarrhea by 49%, parasitic infections by 78%, and anemia by 81% while leading to a 36-96% improvement in cognitive development among young children. (Reference: Cattaneo, Matias D.; Galiano, Sebastian; Gertler, Paul J.; Martinez, Sebastian; Titiunik, Rocio. Housing, health, and happiness. In American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2009, 1:1, 75–105.)

To show the positive impact from using earthen floors as opposed to cement-based floors, we are in the process of completing a biological plausibility study that compares the health of our customers before and after receiving the floors to similar control households in geographic areas where we have not yet scaled. By creating a hard and impermeable barrier between the bacteria and bugs in the floor and the humans that live on top of it, we eliminate dust, bugs, and other harmful human pathogens from the home environment to support clean, hygienic, and healthy living conditions.

Rwanda was our first country and a great place for us to launch the business for several reasons. First, there is significant demand for floors in Rwanda because concrete prices are especially high in Rwanda given that it is a landlocked country. This leaves about 70% of Rwandans with no option but to live on a dirt floor and we wanted to give Rwandans an affordable alternative. Additionally, Rwanda is the second most densely populated country in Africa, so distributing our floors to lots of people quickly was relatively easy. Rwanda has also been a great place to figure out our logistical efficiency to be able to serve communities that are more spread out.

EarthEnable also jumped on the opportunity to scale up and increase its impact by expanding into Uganda when the government requested our support to combat the issue of jiggers facing the Busoga region.  We have always seen Uganda as the perfect nation in which to begin scaling internationally.  Given its proximity to Rwanda, Uganda was attractive as a second country because it is manageable for a Rwanda-based team to support. 

Cement is expensive all over the world but it is especially expensive in Rwanda and Uganda. Most cement is imported and these countries’ landlocked geography raises transportation costs of a heavy material. The high price of cement is why many floors are made with very little cement and thin pours which result in cracking and waste. While a cracked floor with cement is nearly impossible to repair, an earthen floor without cement can easily be repaired and re-sealed.

Cement and concrete are also responsible for 5% of global carbon emissions. Cement is the second most used material in the world, after water and requires significant energy to produce. Meanwhile, earthen floors have 90% less embedded energy and are structurally strong, waterproof, and abrasion resistant. There are significantly more environmentally sustainable building materials than cement and part of our mission is to put the developing world on a more sustainable development path.

Our customers are generally poor, living in rural Rwanda and Uganda. Even though our price is 70% cheaper than concrete, it can be expensive for them to pay out of pocket. Thus, we give customers the option to pay in installments and they often install one room at a time to spread out payments further. A 25 square meter floor will cost roughly 63 USD, so paying for the whole home over 6 months would cost the family about 10 dollars per month. 

We are a for-profit in Rwanda and Uganda because we strive to be a financially sustainable organization rather than remaining subsidized by grants indefinitely. Having customers pay for their floor ensures that EarthEnable is accountable to customers and that customers feel ownership and pride in their floor.

After learning and understanding our product, people are thrilled to see a product that looks like concrete (and sometimes looks even better)! Additionally, people are used to seeing cracks in concrete, and are therefore ecstatic to see a floor that does not crack. Initial skepticism about a new technique that nobody in Rwanda had ever seen before quickly faded away after seeing a demo installation of our product.

We train apprentices for 1-3 months alongside an already trained mason. While they work with the trained mason, they learn not only about the technique of mixing the correct proportions, recognizing sufficient compaction, and troweling, but also about how to handle common issues such as leaky roofs and uneven house foundations.

Data privacy policy

This privacy policy illustrates how EarthEnable treats personal data through the use of our website or any other information sent through email, text or any other electronic source of data.

By visiting our website, you comply with all practices described in the privacy policy. Please, before submitting anything to our site (earthenable.org) or sending us your personal information via email or text, read this privacy policy carefully. It is constructed to help you understand how we collect, use and disclose personal information obtained from our site. EarthEnable respects your personal information and is committed to protecting it with the compliance of this policy.

Reading some content and searching for information on the website does not require providing personal data such as names and addresses. However, if you chose to send us your personal or organization information, this policy applies. If you have any questions you can always contact us via our email. Any change in our data protection policy will be posted on our website.

EarthEnable is able to collect and store any information including personal data either directly sent via our email and minimum information from those who visit our website. We can get more data if you join our mailing list or contact us directly via email, text or any other form of communication but you always hold the consent to reveal your information.

When you provide us with data, we will only use it strictly for the reason it was given. We can only use your information for the organization’s related purposes (e.g., hiring process, sales and marketing, etc.). We also use your information to connect to you and respond to your questions and comments or whenever it is necessary to comply with a legal obligation.

Your data is not to be shared, modified, or be used for any service outside the reason it was given to EarthEnable. EarthEnable does not sell, trade or rent any data received. However, EarthEnable reserves the rights to disclose any information provided if needed for judicial proceedings or any other legal process.

EarthEnable is committed to protect all personal information sent via email, text or any other means of communication for business use. However, EarthEnable is not responsible for the information scammed via internet out of our reach since information available on the internet can never be completely secure. We do not have currently a system to track personal information of everyone visiting our website, but you can help us secure your information by logging out of your email after communicating with us and always be mindful of your browser and the security issues that can arise from it. This policy will be reviewed by our team regularly to make updates if necessary and it will be available upon request. EarthEnable employees are requested to meet our data security standards. Any employee or stakeholder who will violate this policy will be disciplined and subject to potential termination.

You may request to access, correct or even delete the personal or organization information you have provided us through email, text, website or any other engagement. In that case, feel free to contact us directly.

If you have any question regarding this privacy policy or any other data security issue, please reach out via our hotline 2460 in Rwanda or call us on +250787575405. You can also email us at info@earthenable.org