Few weeks ago, Amani Katana was part of the 1,000 Young African Leaders in Washington DC who listened to Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, CON share his journey through life and business. Amani says he could relate with the journey “He’s story resembles the stories of many successful entrepreneurs. Likewise, When I started my waste management business in 2015, I had no idea that my business will have great impact not only to my Community, Africa and globally but also leading to winning several awards. My passion for social entrepreneurship and service to the community was my driving force. I was not working for money nor to win awards. I was working to solve the problem of unlawful disposal of solid waste, youth unemployment and mitigating the global challenges of climate change.”

The 2016 TEF Entrepreneur from Kenya Amani Katana has had his fair share of entrepreneurship trying his hands on different sectors, He traces this interest in entrepreneurship to his background and an early start “Growing up in a poor and humble background inspired me to work extra hard to help my family, self and the community. Since high school I was very passionate about entrepreneurship and transforming my community. I started with hiring social halls and organizing variety shows and concerts where students and outsiders used to pay an entrance fee of Ksh. 50. The shows provided a platform for students and nonstudents to showcase their talents in Music, Dancing, Poetry among others. After completing my studies, I worked as Senior Marine Surveyor within the Port of Mombasa for over 8 years but due to my love for the environment and its people, and the desire to bring reliable and affordable waste management services to my community I decided to resign from employment in 2011 to follow my passion for social entrepreneurship”.

In September 2015, Amani founded Garb Tech in order to solve the problem of unlawful disposal of solid waste and youth unemployment in Mombasa, Kenya. Garb Tech is a waste management business focused on collection transportation and recycling of solid waste for middle income families and businesses in Mombasa, Kenya. Just like other developing and major cities in Kenya, Solid Waste Management is a serious issue in Mombasa County due to growing human population and urbanization. It is estimated that Mombasa generates approximately over 2000tons of solid waste per day and collection is estimated at 68% of the generated waste.  The other 32% is either burnt, disposed at the Street, Rivers or Public Land hence polluting the environment and exposing residents to diseases. Garb Tech is committed to protecting the environment by addressing this problem through efficient, reliable and affordable waste management services.

Starting with 2 households, Garb Tech has grown to serve over 200 households in door to door collection and recycling of waste into flower pots and charcoal briquettes. He has actively been involved in this business and this hardwork has brought about recognition with several local and international award including;  2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, YALI RLC EA Social Entrepreneurship Award,  Recognized by the African Entrepreneurship Award as the top 50 entrepreneur with the most significant and sustainable impact to create jobs and improves lives in Africa, winner of the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) Award and recently selected to participate in the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States.

Garb Tech is a waste management business focusing on collection transportation and recycling of solid waste for middle income families and businesses in Mombasa, Kenya. Just like other developing and major cities in Kenya, Solid Waste Management is the most serious issue in Mombasa County due to growing human population and urbanization. It is estimated that Mombasa generates approximately over 2000tons of solid waste per day and collection is estimated at 68% of the generated waste.  The other 32% is either burnt, disposed at the Street, Rivers or Public Land hence polluting the environment and exposing residents to diseases. Garb Tech is committed to protecting the environment by addressing this problem through efficient, reliable and affordable waste management services.

Borne out of a need to to help his community solve the problems of waste management, Amani owes the continuous rise of Garbtech to investment in knowledge, building formidable relationships, leveraging on valuable networks and positively using the power of social media and technology. Amani and his team also recently launched a Youth Empowerment Program Initiative, a community based organization focusing on empowering Youth, Women and Girls through Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Environmental conservation with an aim of mitigating the effects of global climate change, poverty, youth unemployment and radicalization in Mombasa He says “Through this programme, It is safe to say that we have really lead the way on environment efforts, such as, producing eco-friendly charcoal briquettes, participating in cleaning and tree planting exercise, and ensuring that communities take a responsibility for preserving our environment through our trainings and sensitization programs”

Entrepreneurship is like a journey in the jungle. Only the strong, hard workers and resilient will reach their final destination (Success). It is through this hardship that we find the right path to the success journey. Even though I have not reached far, the challenges I have encountered are far beyond my expectation and any inspiring entrepreneur should be well prepared for this. Through this journey, I overcame many obstacles among them startup capital, loneliness, negative public attitude and stiff competition among others. But through hard work, determination, and resilience I overcame all these challenges and finally learned that you can achieve anything in life when you dress for it.

Running his business has come with a lot of challenges peculiar to his industry but he says these challenges are becoming a thing of the past through his participation in the TEF Programme “I consider my participation in the 2016 mentoring, training and funding of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program as one of my significant accomplishment to date. The 12 weeks training and mentorship was very instrumental in changing who I am today. The online TEF Hub being a resource center for empowering African entrepreneurs has been an ideal place for me. I have become more knowledgeable and experienced through the opportunity to network with African and world Entrepreneurs hence learning more on entrepreneurship through a global lens. I can confidently say that this experience equipped me with fundamental skills to accomplish my business goals and transforming communities. Through the funding, were able to scale our business to a wider market, established a fully functional office, creating employment to extra 2 youth among others.”

Not resting on his oars, Amani has plans underway to scale Garbtech to the neighbouring cities in Kenya. The Garb Tech team is looking to establish 3 Garbage Sorting & Recycling Centres (GarbSoRC) in at least 3 cities in Kenya by the year 2020. These centers will handle the transfer of waste for sorting and recycling into useful products such as charcoal briquettes, flower pots and fertilizer which will then be sold to the community at a subsidized price.  They have also received expression of interest from networks in DRC, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda to establish Garb Tech in these countries.

Garb Tech offices are located in Kingless House, Moi Avenue, Mombasa Kenya and can be reached through their website www.garbtech.co.ke or on Social Media handles. Facebook – Garb Tech, Twiter – @garb_tech, Linkedn – Garb Tech, Instagram – garb_tech.

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