Eco-entrepreneurship is the new fad of startup entrepreneurship, not because of its rising popularity, but its potential to transform our environment, improving the quality of life.
In Africa, green entrepreneurship is gaining significant traction, with more and more young African entrepreneurs seeking innovative ways to solve immediate environmental challenges, while making profits.
Here a few entrepreneurs who are redefining eco-entrepreneurship in their countries:
With rising urbanisation, more people are migrating to cities triggering increased demand for affordable housing in many African countries.
Botswanan entrepreneur Msindazwe Ndhlovu founded The Noble Savage, a company that recycles waste plastic and waste glass to manufacture alternative eco-friendly building materials which are lighter, stronger, durable, and affordable.
The company makes roofing tiles, and other material by utilising mixed post-consumer waste plastic and blending it with sand to create a polymer resin bonded product that is eco-friendly, stronger and cheaper compared to other products. The collected waste includes beer bottles and all sorts of glass blended with concrete resin and wood to create alternatives to granite, marble and ceaser stone.
Msindazwe Ndhlovu says: “For centuries roofing has been made from materials that were extracted from the earth cement, clay steel or grass. But we have improved and used waste plastic to generate a far superior product that is lighter, stronger, and affordable up to 30% cheaper.” Msindazwe Ndhlovu is a beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme.
Bamboo express is a company that makes furniture from ecofriendly bamboo.
Lombola Lombola started the company to empower the youth and women locally.
Bamboo Express is solving the problem of deforestation, youth unemployment, and lack of income alternatives for rural women. They run a youth apprenticeship program and purchase 90% of raw materials from rural women.
Lombola Lombola is a beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme.
D’Rose recycling is an eco-friendly company that upcycles solid waste like old tyres, bottles, plastics into recycled furniture suitable for homes, offices, playgrounds, studios, etc.
Adebimpe Oni’s company seeks to address the challenge posed by the tons of plastics and tyres which end up in the ocean on a yearly basis causing water pollution and which drive sea life into extinction.
Founder, Adebimpe said: “I have a great passion for combating climate change in the world. I decided to add my own quota in creating a better and cleaner environment”.
Adebimpe Oni is a beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme.
TEF entrepreneur, Richard Bbaale is a social entrepreneur from Uganda that founded BanaPads in 2010, a company using banana pseudostem wastes, which are usually left to rot after harvesting, to make sanitary towels.
BanaPads is an award winning social enterprise registered in Uganda and Tanzania with the aim of manufacturing affordable and eco-friendly (100% biodegradable) sanitary pads to keep village girls in school and create jobs for local women.
Richard Bbaale says: “This is actually a very personal story that involves me and my elder sister. I always looked up to her and we were very close. As we grew older, I realized that she would skip school for a number of days every month. I also noticed that she would use leaves to try and keep herself clean during this time because our grandmother could not afford to buy sanitary pads that were available on market. And because it’s taboo, they would not talk about it and she would miss a lot of school and get infections as well. This haunted me and I felt helpless seeing my sister stay at home when she should have been in school.
Fast-forward, I am in college, while volunteering in local community I noticed similar problem with young women having to just stay at home when they had their period. Once when visiting a village, there were a number of discarded banana stems scattered around. And that is where it struck me that this ‘waste product’ could actually be used to make useful products. I learnt about its properties and realized it had very good absorption qualities to make a low-cost disposable sanitary pad.”
The pads are also collected to be used as manure and this means that the waste that goes to the local landfill will be reduced since the banana pseudo-stem is a recyclable product.
Richard Bbaale is a beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme.
Letsogile Kennedy is an award-winning social entrepreneur, architect and founder of Ecohub, a startup established that innovatively uses plastic waste to produce affordable, architect-designed flat-pack ecobricks and ecohouses.
EcoHub is a local startup company that makes eco-bricks from recycled materials. The plan is to manufacture ‘green’ building materials from waste, while at the same time providing affordable housing and sustainable housing that can last for 20 to 25 years.
The company manufactures eco-bricks that are produced from special material using waste.
Letsogile Kennedy is a beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme