32-year-old Emmanuel Lucas Malongo is a waste aggregator and an entrepreneur. Thanks to the Taka ni Mali project, Emmanuel and his family’s lives have changed for the better; this is his story.
Before he was a waste aggregator, having not yet joined a Community Based Organisation (CBO) or even heard of the Taka ni Mali project, Emmanuel used to work as a pest control fumigator. The money wasn’t good, and neither were the working conditions. He had very few customers interested in the services he had to offer, and the chemicals he had to deal with in the fumigation business had adverse effects on his health. In a month, Emmanuel would make between CHF 109 to 129, which just wasn’t enough for him and his family.
In 2017, things changed. Emmanuel joined a waste management CBO as he was trying to diversify his income generating activities. "During our regular meeting, our chairman introduced us to a representative from Swisscontact. He enlightened us on the concept behind the Taka ni Mali project and this revelation was mind-altering.
Right from the start, Swisscontact supported the community group by training its members on safety in waste collection and providing them with the equipment they needed. "We were also trained on entrepreneurship, financial planning and how to identify, capitalise and collaborate with other stakeholders," says Emmanuel.
"Because of the dynamics involved with working in a group, I opted to break out of the CBO and start my own business. I identified a gap in the market and wanted to maximise on it. I now work with different CBOs and individual waste collectors who supply me with waste from which I am able to bring home the bacon. I receive unsorted packages, weigh them and pay for them in cash. Thereafter, I sort them into the different plastic categories, metals and rubber. Without sorting, it is difficult to know the exact value of the product. After that, I package the items per category for sale," explains Emmanuel.
Emmanuel collects and sells these goods to large-scale recyclers with grinders. He sells the metals daily and earns CHF 19 to 22. A month’s worth of plastic collections earns Emmanuel up to CHF 348. He has been able to hire 3 employees who he comfortably pays a daily rate.
The biggest difference Emmanuel sees between the fumigation business and waste management, apart from the dangers of dealing with chemical fumes when fumigating, is that there are more economic opportunities in waste management. "You get different materials like rubber and metal and other recyclables once you sort waste," says Emmanuel, "which you can then sell at different prices."
"I have truly benefited from the Taka ni Mali project and hope to open my own recycling shop one day. I’m thankful to Swisscontact for creating this opportunity for me."
Taka ni Mali is an urban climate-smart project that purposed to develop economic opportunities in the solid waste collection and recycling sub-sector while reducing environmental degradation and health risks through the creation of efficient and sustainable Solid Waste Management (SWM) systems. The first phase was implemented between 2013 and 2016 in Morogoro Municipality, Tanzania and was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Puma Energy Foundation. Because of its success, the initiative was extended to Mwanza in a second phase funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Republic and Canton of Geneva (2017 -2018).