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Entrepreneur turns Nakuru dump site into a money maker

Tuesday January 21 2014

 Rachel Mburu and one of her employees at her plastics recycling business in Nakuru. Photo/Chebet Caroline

Rachel Mburu and one of her employees at her plastics recycling business in Nakuru. Photo/Chebet Caroline 

By Chebet Caroline

For many people, the thought of making a decent living out of trash at a dumping site is hard to imagine. Yet one Nakuru woman has beaten many odds at the Gioto dumping site to turn trash into a booming business.

Rachel Mburu has for more than 25 years been getting her hands dirty in the dumping site in order to take her six children to school and put food on the table.

The 41-year-old widow has not only seen her children through good schools but has employed other people. Ms Mburu’s plastic business that has expanded over the years started as a small venture run by her husband.

“The business started small, from buying plastics from the street families who lived in the dumping site. With time it grew into a family business,” Ms Mburu says.

Her business premises is situated a few metres away from  Gioto, Nakuru’s main dumping site.

Currently Ms Mburu has bought compressing and grinding machines, which she hopes will help ease the process of recycling plastics.

The plastics undergo several process that include sorting, compressing and finally being ground into particles before being sold to plastic manufacturing companies.
The business woman sells more than 14 tonnes of plastic in a week to a China-based company.

The recycled plastics, she says, are used to manufacture plastic bottles and shoes, cups, plates and sportswear.

Although running plastic recycling business is costly, Ms Mburu attributes her success to patience, an attribute she has nurtured while running the business.

“Plastic prices keep changing with seasons and sometimes one incurs great losses. But all the same we have to keep going,” she says.

Currently, she has employed 26 workers, majority of them being women, to help run the business.

“When my husband passed on last year, I realised how hard it could have been to get by were if not for this business and that made me bring in more women from the nearest slums and those within the dump site,” Ms Mburu says.

In efforts to advocate for the need for a clean environment by recycling materials, Ms Mburu has been attending several environmental meetings in the county.

She has also been urging county governments to support women to startup businesses that do not require a lot of capital so the women can have a source of income.

One of Ms Mburu’s workers, Eunice Obete, says she has learnt the importance of recycling waste materials.

“People living within the dumping site have got the most valuable things among them”, she says.

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