WASTE MONEY; How a Streets cleaner found fortune in plastic collection in Kisumu City
Seven years ago Nashon Onyango would have passed just like any other Nairobi City council employee on casual contract, traversing the streets of with a broom and a shovel.
However after some time, the inevitable happened. With the realization that his potential was underutilized in the City streets coupled with a bunch of skills and experiences of waste management, Nashon left Nairobi for Kisumu; a decision that would later make him the proprietor of Damsel Mashallah Scrap Metal Services.
Nashon says he came to Kisumu and realized that no one was seriously into Plastic and scrap business; and the demand for such was high in the market. So he rolled up his sleeve to exploit his potential and to fill the market gap.
“I was motivated to start the business after noticing a market gap. My experience in handling wastes materials while I was in Nairobi also motivated my decision” says Nashon
With not so much in his hand he identified a site at Kisumus Kaloleni estate just few metres from the infamous Kibuye Market and began his dealings. However he says he had to begin with the collection of scrap metals as was the trend then but later upgraded to other materials.
“When I started this business people were only used to collecting scrap metals but not plastics. So changing that perception plus getting a site was a big challenge but I thank God I sailed through” recalled Nashon
Nasho adds that most people harbored negative mentality about those who are collecting waste stuff. ‘Ninjas’ as they are normally called are always presumed to be thieves according to Nashon. This would be one of the setbacks he had to grapple with.
Nonetheless, according to him, that notion is rapidly changing since nowadays his customers are not only the ‘ninjas’ but also the ‘decent’ as well.
Damsel Mashallah Scrap Metal Services is a unique business. It deals in collection and recycling of plastic wastes and other stuff such as glasses, scraps metals etc. and sells them to clients within and outside Kisumu. It has employed more than 200 people most of whom are involved in the supply of these materials.
A first visit to this site one would think it’s just an organized plastic dumpsite. Here, heaps of plastics materials and other assorted wastes are piled in sacks while some are sprawled all over the site.
Damsel is a busy spot throughout the week with clients thronging in and out every other minute. Nashon says he has two categories of clients; the suppliers and customers who buy from him.
“I wake up very early in the morning to come to this place funny enough, I would always find people waiting for me to serve them; that motivates me alot” Asserts Nashon
Though Nashon admits that this business has given him huge returns he is hesitant to disclose the exact proceeds.
In buying, rates vary depending on the materials. For instance Nashon buys plastics at a cost of Kshs 15 per kilo, pet bottles at Kshs. 10 per a kilo, etc
He has since bought a full-size plastic crushing machine which has gone a long way in adding value to his business and further boosted his returns.
“I bought this machine about 2 years ago when demand for crushed products rose. It has really helped me in extending my client base “quipped Nashon.
His clients range from the locals such as the fishermen who use some plastics as floaters, Juakali artisans, and alcohol and beverage companies like Coca-Cola and Kenya breweries among many others.
Nashons’ business, however, is faced with myriad challenges. The community around the site is against the establishment claiming it’s a health hazard despite NEMAs’ approval. They also claim the ‘ninjas’ who supply the materials are a big security risk to them and many of them have been wrongly victimized.
Nevertheless Nashon is affirmative and he remains undeterred.
His vision is to expand his business to a higher level and create even more employment for the community around.
“I dream that someday the business will expand to become a big company in this region and beyond”
He has also been working closely with the County Government of Kisumu which he says has been very supportive in many ways.
Subsequently, the National Environmental Management Authority and other environmental agencies have been impressed by his business as it supplements their initiative.
Finally, Nashon urges that the moment you have an idea be bold to try out. You never know it might just work out in amazing way. And to the youth he says they should not despise any job since jobs have become so limited in Kenya.