FOUNDER OF UNCONVENTIONAL WASTE SOLUTIONS
You see them on our roads — informal waste collectors struggling up hills with bins full of recyclable material.
Former investment banker Ngobese noticed them too and, after speaking to one of them, found a way to help empower them, which led to the establishment of Unconventional Waste Solutions. It’s a company that helps address the challenges faced by informal waste collectors by providing safer waste trolleys that double up as mobile billboards
Inspiration for the idea?
It came about after I interacted with a woman, Mama Poso, who is a waste recycler. When I understood what she was doing and why she was doing it — to put bread on the table — I built her a new and improved dummy trolley. This trolley became our first prototype.
How does it work?
My design makes trolleys safer for waste collectors. We also train waste collectors. I found that Poso’s recovery process was inefficient, as was the daily running of her business. Most waste collectors don’t utilise all the opportunities in the waste sector. In scaling the Abomakgereza (informal waste collectors) project we realised the importance of training and skilling waste entrepreneurs. With the help of international MBA students we created a good basic training programme that re-imagines waste recovery as a business opportunity instead of a chore, necessary for survival.
We try and get our collectors involved in the waste economy — for example providing waste management services at events.
We’re working with South African Breweries on a project in Tembisa and other regions in Gauteng. Our vision includes running the waste-management social enterprise in subSaharan Africa.