LUSAKA â€“ In many Zambian communities, there is a tremendous pool of prospective entrepreneurs and young people who dream of earning money and serving their communities but who lack the resources, the right opportunity and support to maximise their potential.
That entrepreneurial spirit is now being put to good use by Zambian Breweriesâ€™ Manja Pamodzi project to help clean up their environment.
â€œWe noticed a significant amount of trash, most of it recyclable, tarnishing the beauty of our communities and realised that we were part of the problem through our product packaging.
â€œWe therefore sought to play our role in resolving this challenge using a unique social enterprise model that allows us to not only clean the environment but see to it that members of the community who choose to engage are empowered and given the opportunity to flourish as a consequence,â€ explained Zambian Breweries managing director Annabelle Degroot.
Manja Pamodzi was born in August of 2015 with an ambitious vision â€“ to clean up the environment while simultaneously empowering men, women and youths who possess an entrepreneurial drive. This was to be achieved by empowering and supporting emergent entrepreneurs across Zambia, beginning in Lusaka, by tapping into their potential and providing them with a recycling platform.
Today, in a year, 160 collectors have been registered and 194.9 tonnes of waste has been collected; two aggregation sites are currently operating in Ngâ€™ombe and Chawama; and five clean-up exercises have taken place in Ngâ€™ombe, Chawama, Matero, Kamwala and Lilanda.
â€œManja Pamodzi presents a platform, an opportunity for willing members of the community to flourish,â€ said Manja Pamodzi project manager Elaine Kafwimbi.
â€œThis model centres on providing fledgling entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs in particular, with the tools they need to succeed. Manja Pamodzi visibly invests significant resources in the success of our collectors, and time and again we have seen them deliver above-average returns,â€ she added.
The initiative has seen the tremendous impact these collectors make on their community â€“ and can quote several examples of social entrepreneurs who have steadily grown the quantity of their waste over last year.
The collectors are identified through environmental education and sensitisation drives with a bias towards recycling. These collectors will gather polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, cardboards and other recyclable materials from target areas in their communities. Aggregators thereafter buy the material in bulk and process the discarded material into bundles that are then sold to recycling companies to be processed into useable material such as tissues and egg trays.
The initiative has received wide acclaim from government officials. Vice-President Inonge Wina, for example, made the following remark during the launch of the initiative: â€œManja Pamodzi is truly adding value to garbage. It will invariably create enterprise opportunities for collectors. They will have the opportunity to kick-start businesses they were previously unable to start; it will assist them with funds for school fees to support their childrenâ€™s academic aspirations; and so on.â€
While Manja Pamodzi has made tremendous progress in such a short space of time, its vision is nationwide.
On June 18 this year, it held its fifth District Clean Up activity in George and Lilanda townships. The event was attended by 90 members of the community with up to two tonnes of recyclable material collected.
â€œFive major clean-ups in under a year with hundreds of men, women and youths on the path to empowerment is no easy achievement. We believe this is the best model to beautify our country and to play a meaningful role in the success of our people. I can state with utmost confidence that there is more to come,â€ Ms Kafwimbi said.
â€œBy seeking social impact organisations intrinsically, we are making a real and sustainable difference in peopleâ€™s lives into their business models. As a concept, this is gaining traction.
â€œAs a Zambian business that came up with a Zambian solution to a Zambian problem, weâ€™re thrilled with the steady progress our Manja Pamodzi campaign is making. Its success thus far is a clear vote of confidence from our communities â€“ who have chosen to trust us by partnering with us in our quest for a cleaner environment with a thriving population. We are immeasurably grateful for this trust,â€ Mr Degroot, the Zambian Breweries managing director, said. – LANGMEAD & BAKER