Knocking on doors looking for work led Mandlenkosi Nkosi to become a thriving businessman and an enviro warrior, advocating for recycling and teaching others how to profit from it.
During Nkosi’s unemployment days, he bumped into a number of informal traders and wondered where they were taking the waste they had collected.
“I decided to follow them and they eventually taught me the business of recycling.”
He stopped looking for work, built a trolley and at the end of the day, when he was able to bring home groceries, his wife joined joined in to help him.
“I gained more confidence and started collecting from my neighbourhood. I would pull the trolley in front and my wife would push at the back, we were a team,” he says.
Nkosi caught the eye of an official from the City of Ekurhuleni who helped get him work at a nearby transfer station. That was a huge milestone as it led to work at other local transfer stations. The couple bought an old bakkie, which helped them reach and service other stations, expanding their business and creating jobs.
One man’s trash…
Today, Nkosi has two recycling sites - one in Idutywa, Eastern Cape, where he employs 12 people, producing an average of two tonnes of recycled material a day. The second site in Boksburg, Gauteng, has a staff of six and an average production of a tonne waste a day. Nkosi sells plastic products to clients in Benoni, Boksburg, Butterworth and Mthatha. He also has a free training programme called Amathandamvelo, which teaches the importance of taking care of the environment and making money from recycling.
“Before the Coronavirus Disease, I trained over 500 people and continued mentoring them via my national recyclers’ WhatsApp platform. My target is to train at least a 1 000 people per province, per year,” he says.
The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development trained Nkosi and his employees on safety and first aid and supplied him with bulk bags and steel cages.
Nkosi also received funding from recycling company PETCO.