It has been a journey of four years from waste picker to entrepreneur for Imbokodo Green founder, Bonakalisile Nquba.
Imbokodo Green is a recycling company based in Ezibeleni, co-founded by Nquba who has her sights set on changing the waste management industry in the Eastern Cape.
“We collect everything from plastic bottles, cardboard boxes to aluminium cans which we semi process and then send to a processing plant in Dutywa,” said Nquba.
The budding entrepreneur said she got into waste collection after taking a keen interest in recycling, something that inspired her to start rummaging through dustbins.
“My mother started collecting bottles after she heard there was money in it, but my interest came after I saw some elderly women go through our garbage and enquired why they were collecting bottles.”
From there, Nquba started collecting bottles to make an income, but her interest has always been to own her own company.
“I used to carry black bags to school every day and go through bins. The security people noticed me and started setting aside what I needed. Then I was let in on holidays and weekends.”
Today Imbokodo Green, which is still in the start-up phase, employs 11 people who were also collecting waste.
“We go around collecting waste from retailers. We now lease processing equipment from a women’s co-operative based in Ezibeleni.”
Nquba said regardless of the numerous challenges they had faced, the dream to change recycling had kept her going.
“We are not supported by every retailer because I think our competitors are starting for feel our presence. I feel blessed to have the people who work for me. I cannot guarantee their wages, but because they believe in what we are doing they have taken ownership of it. On Fridays I try to give motivational talks to keep their spirits up, but they often end up encouraging me.
“What we want Imbokodo Green to be is not done in the province. We want to not only collect recyclables from every household in Komani, but service the whole of the region. For us this is not just about collecting bottles, but we want to change the recycling culture in our town,” said Nquba.