One of the problems facing most urban cities in Nigeria is the problem of waste management system. The wast management system in most cities is very poor. Some of the state governments have abandoned the people to handle waste management in their own way. Subsequently this has led to indiscriminate dumping of refuse everywhere including on major roads and in front of peoples’ houses. The dangerous implication of this cannot be overemphasized.
However as we all know, wherever there is a problem there is equally an opportunity. The bigger the problem the bigger the opportunity it presents. But only the discerning and enterprising ones can spot the opportunity in the midst of problems. That is why I believe there is a big opportunity in waste management system in Nigeria today.
And if you live in any of the cities currently suffering poor waste management system and you have been thinking of how you can build a business or make money from waste management then this post is for you. The good thing about the model of waste management system I will share with you here is that you need little or no capital to start it. Yet the waste management system is a 100 billion dollar industry.
A PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE
When I packed to the first house where I lived somewhere in Egbu, Owerri, I discovered that the only place provided for refuse dump was very far from the house where I stay. It was about 25 minutes’ walk. Sometimes I would come back from work and find my waste basket stinking and need disposing but I would be too tired to walk that distance to dispose it. I remember wishing there was someone to bill me to dispose of it. I knew for sure that I could pay as much as 200 naira for that purpose yet it wouldn’t matter to me.
With time I realized I was not the only person having that challenge. I began to imagine some graduates I know that were living in that vicinity most of whom didn’t have a job and who if only they can put away pride and the graduate mentality and seize the business opportunity that situation presented will be many times better off.
OPPORTUNITY WAITING TO BE TAKEN
One of these our imaginary graduates can move from house to house in that area and speak with the various households. He will explain about how he would help get rid of their waste each time it is due. They will agree a monthly subscription fee of say 1,000 naira only. this is irrespective of how many times and the quantity of waste he would have to dispose off in a month.
Now imagine he is able to convince 100 families to sign up for this service, that would be N100,000 per month. I also imagine that he could design this as a part-time job for a start. He can reach an agreement with these families to pick up their waste in the night, so that he can still engage himself in some other jobs during the day. For each family, he can also design a roster and assign different days of the week for picking garbage from different homes.
Suppose you’re the graduate, as your customer base grows it might be difficult for you to serve all of them timely. This may necessitate proper branding and expansion. You can start your structure by getting a name for the business. For example, if your name is Uche, then Cherish Waste Management Agency won’t be a bad way to go. You’re going to have to design your fliers, get some branded T-shirts or aprons and employ some casual workers to go from house to house to gather the waste and you pay them ‘salaries’ at the end of the month while you smile to the bank with your millions as the CEO. As you grow, you will get to a level where you will not only dispose waste but also begin to make additional money from it as you set up a recycling plant.
STEP BY STEP APPROACH TO START THIS BUSINESS
Step 1: Put Away, Shame, Pride and Ego
This is not a business for the egotistic. The first thing that will enter into your garbage bag has to be your ego and one thing that will help you achieve this is to define clearly why you are venturing into the business in the first place. You must accept that it is a dirty business but that it does not matter.
Step 2: Discover the Pain Point
Obviously this is not a business that will sell in every city. There are some cities where the government has already done a good job in handling the issue of waste disposal. So for such a state or city this opportunity does not exist. But imagine you are living somewhere in Imo or Abia State. These are clear examples of states where there is poor or no waste management system. If you live there then the opportunity is starring at you. Find out how far the nearest refuse dump is from residential areas. Also find out how difficult it is for people to dispose their refuse. Then find out if they will be willing to pay for the services if someone is able to help them dispose it. You can get all these information simply by asking random people including your own neighbours.
Step 3: Decide on where you will Be Dumping the Refuse
Usually there is a place approved by the government as the official dump site in every state or city. But the challenge is that oftentimes such place is far away from residential areas. So you need to find out the approved place so that you don’t dump refuse in a place that will land you in a bigger problem than you are trying to solve.
Step 4: Settle on Your Means of Conveying the Refuse
Do you have a truck, a small bus, a tricycle, wheel barrow or bags for gathering the refuse from various houses and conveying them to the dumpsite? Whatever means you settle for will depend largely on four things. First is your startup capital. Second is number of households you are serving. And the third factor is the volume of refuse each of them generate. And finally, the distance of the dumpsite from those households.
Step 5: Secure a Permit
If you wish to run this business on a large scale it is important that you approach the relevant government agencies to get an official permit that will protect you from the harassment of law enforcement agents or government task force.
Step 6: Procure other Equipment (including PPE)
Aside the means of conveying the refuse as discussed in step 3 above, you also need other auxiliary equipment like shovels, hand groves, overalls, safety boots, face masks and waste bags.
Step 7: Set Your Price
It is now time you invest thought into deciding how much you will charge. I usually categorize it here. A different price for a single room. A different price for flats. And a different price for hotels, eateries, shops, supermarkets etc.
Step 8: Design Flyers or Hand Bills and Start your Marketing
You will need to move from house to house to let people know about the service you are rendering. If you can afford it print some flyers you can show them. But even if you can’t afford that, this is not a business that require so much of packaging. The need is clearly there and people will be willing to pay even the traditional wheel barrow pushers to do the job for them. So it won’t take much to convince people to subscribe to your service.
Step 9: Do the Damn Dirty Job
Yes, it is a dirty job, but in the exact words of Otumba Gaddaffi, ‘shit business is a serious business’. So you must know that people are likely to slight you for doing this. But you must prepare your mind to ignore them and focus on your reason for doing this in the first place.
Step 10: Relax and Enjoy
There is an Igbo proverb that is loosely translated to mean ‘dirty hands brings about oil mouth’. Yes, after packing refuse for the rich and the lowly, at the end of the month you will be smiling to the bank. And guess what? The money you receive will in no way smell as if it is coming from waste management system.
Step 11: Expand
As your business grows, specifically as more people subscribe to your service, it might be difficult for you to continue to operate it as a side business. You may now consider quitting your regular job to concentrate fully on it. You can also consider getting a staff or two. Their job will be moving around for collection and disposal while you manage the business processes.
Note that what we have discussed here is purely about simple refuse disposal. But as you grow you can consider going into recycling which is where the big money really is. Ad you will be surprised at the calibers of people, organizations and government representatives that will approach and want to partner with you if you do it well. This is just natural because you are solving a major societal problem.
Would you like to give this a try today? Do you have some questions to ask about this? Let me hear from you in the comment section.