Two small businesses in the waste management sector are making money and saving the environment.
What do you do with your cell phone or even washing machine when it no longer works? If you’re like most South Africans, you leave your broken appliances languishing in a drawer or storeroom. Some people even drop them off at landfills – with disastrous consequences for the environment.
The waste management sector is creating jobs, contributing towards economic growth, and ensuring communities reside in clean environments. Two social impact entrepreneurs started their businesses for the greater good.
Puso Monametsi left his job as an office manager at the Department of Home Affairs to set up Mmula Group 20 Projects and Trading.
“I first had the idea to establish a waste management company in 2018, after a friend introduced me to the concept,” Puso explains.
After conducting in-depth research about the sector, he decided to start a waste management business.
Puso grew up in Morokweng Village in the North West province and his business is focused on providing waste management services in rural areas and villages because he fully understands their waste challenges.
The establishment of Mmula Group was particularly ill-timed because the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were announced just days after Puso had set up his business. As an essential service, the company could operate under the strict regulations, but Puso recalls that the first months of the business were particularly challenging.
His commitment to his employees kept him going during these tough times.
“Having given them jobs, I couldn’t just drop them, instead of giving up, I decided to see every challenge as an opportunity,” he said.
Puso’s perseverance and optimism paid off. Mmula’s growth kickstarted when the business started collecting recyclable waste from retailers. At first, they had agreements with just two stores, but now he has partnerships with six retailers.
The range of services has also expanded: from simply collecting plastics, bottles, cans, tins and boxes, the group now separates these recyclables and packages them into balers, selling the materials to companies in Johannesburg to be recycled.
Puso plans to build on this by establishing a drop-off centre and expanding Mmula Group’s operations beyond their current Vryburg base.
“I am proud that this company is playing a part in addressing global warming and ensuring the wellbeing of the environment.”
He added that it warms his heart to know that his business is providing an income for people that sleep in landfill.
There are plenty of business opportunities in the waste management sector, another business that is contributing positively to the circular economy is Alfred Esiang’s business called Aliangy Enterprise.
Alfred stumbled into waste management after he set up a garden service.
“While I was running my garden service business, I received many requests to remove garden, domestic and even hazardous waste. I decided to incorporate a waste management services in my business,” he said.
Since then, Aliangy has grown from a side hustle operating with two bicycles into a thriving entity with its own fleet of cars and its own property. The company has diversified its services to include plumbing, construction, and ornamental horticulture.
The business also has an accredited training development centre that specializes in artisan development. Alfred explained that his centre is unique because at least 70% of training is hands-on practicals.
“Many South Africans don’t realise the harm that electronic waste can cause if it’s left in landfills. By diverting tons and tons of electronic waste from landfills, we are safeguarding the health of our communities and the environment,” Alfred said.
Aliangy’s impact has been recognised by the North West Department of Public Works, which awarded the company a Gold for the Best Performing EPW Project. This was a highlight for the company and Alfred considers the fact that Aliangy owns property in an industrial area where black ownership stands at less than 2% is another huge achievement.
Wins like this are extremely motivating, especially given the challenges entrepreneurs face.
“In the past, we’ve struggled to complete projects on time because of cash flow issues, and the team has been affected by poor hiring decisions,” Alfred confessed.
He believes he was able to overcome these challenges because he completed an advanced diploma in project management.
Alfred is passionate about creating awareness about waste management, growing the artisan development training centre and making it easier for people to recycle.
The waste management sector is full of business opportunities and entrepreneurs are growing and thriving in this sector.