MicroConcrete Roofing tiles

Early in our work we became aware of two basic problems in developing countries, the tremendous deforestation and the high incidence of imported construction materials. Thus, we began to seek solutions for roofs that would use less wood, as well as substitute imports.

Having read about investigations into handmade fiber-concrete roofing sheets, we began to experiment ourselves. Soon after the first roofs had been laid we discovered that not only was it difficult to obtain a perfect fit between the sheets, but also that they were fragile and difficult to handle. After some times cracks appeared and we realized that they were not feasible for our purposes. It was clear that the size had to be reduced and some sort of mechanical process developed in order to guarantee consistency of size and fit.

About that time, SKAT organized a seminar in Switzerland where it gathered together people from many countries who had been experimenting with hand made roofing sheets. Sofonias was prepared to tell the seminar to forget everything. Then, another participant revealed a small vibrating machine and polyethylene mould to make roofing tiles.

We bought a machine and began production!

Alfredo Martirena

Convinced that Micro Concrete Roofing (MCR) tiles were an ecologically and economically viable solution for roofs, we presented a project to the Swiss Development Cooperation. From the modest beginnings of twenty pilot plants in six countries by 1990, MCR has spread throughout Latin America so that at the end of 2002 there are about 650 workshops currently employing more than 3000 people in twelve countries. All these small businesses have raised their own financing and thus the program has been outstanding in the mobilization of capital.

Annual MCR tile production in Latin America is around 3,000,000 square meters, about 50,000 roofs. Accumulated production has resulted in some 350,000 roofs. In any event, close to two million people have elegant, enduring and economical roofs over their heads!

Throughout the past ten years the project has been able to develop a network of producers, consultants and university research institutes, and the activities have expanded to include other ecomaterials. The EcoSouth Network is the vehicle for dissemination, education, quality control and investigation. Its consultants have provided advice and introductory and follow-up courses well beyond Latin America, into Africa, Asia and the ex-Soviet Union.

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Diego Coloma
Diego Coloma MachadoEcuadorean
Mechanic technician
Spanish, english
Installation, training and setup of workshops: MicroConcrete Roofing tiles, Puzzolanic cement, concrete precasts.


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.