Si­fiso Ngobese

FOUNDER OF UN­CON­VEN­TIONAL WASTE SO­LU­TIONS

Sunday Times - - Gaming -

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.

Five-year plan?

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.

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