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Businesses Of The Future: 20 New Wealth Creators On The African Continent

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Sector: Bee farming and recycling
Patrice Murugi, 23, Kenya
Founder and CEO: Patvention Recycling Enterprise

Patrice Murugi, Founder and CEO of Patvention Recycling Enterprise. Picture: Supplied

Patrice Murugi may have a small-scale business, but her ideas have big potential.

Growing up, she learned how to bee farm and now she has managed to turn the hobby into a profitable business growing the bee farming industry in Kenya.

Murugi comes from a small village in Nanyuki, a town in central Kenya bordered by Mount Kenya and bursting with wildlife.

As a teenager, Murugi moved in with her dad in Nyeri County.

While there, she watched her dad build beehives from waste material and then farm bees, to provide for the family.

This inspired her to pursue a diploma in business management at Kenyatta University.

She realized that bee farming could be a solution to some of the problems in her community.

“We have a big issue of waste management in Nyeri County, so I thought of how I could turn that into a social enterprise. That’s how I started my business,” she tells FORBES WOMAN AFRICA.

In 2017, with the help of her family and the youth in her community, she would collect saw dust and rice husks and fabricate bee hives out of them.

This was the beginning of what would be her first business venture, Patvention Recycling Enterprise.

She currently employs eight people.

Murugi also houses beehives on a small plot in her backyard and teaches community members how to become bee hive farmers.

“My other plan is to encourage bee farming at a large scale because here it is a very profitable venture that many youth can do,” she says.

Murugi says she plans to also turn the bee venom market into a profitable business to help cure diseases. She has since expanded her business to also manufacturing briquettes out of waste. She plans to buy a carbonizing machine big enough to process waste in dumping sites, and also plans to branch out into Nairobi.


Sector: Sustainable energy
Stella Sigana, 36, Kenya
Founder and Executive Director: Alternative Waste Technologies

Stella Sigana, Founder and Executive Director of Alternative Waste Technologies. Picture: Supplied

A social entrepreneur, Stella Sigana is passionate about environmental preservation and building social enterprises. One of them is Alternative Waste Technologies, which produces charcoal briquettes from agricultural waste.

Founded in 2016, her goal was to create an alternative cooking fuel to mitigate against deforestation and climate change and contribute to reaching the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Sigana was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, in a family of five daughters, she the eldest.

Growing up, Sigana went to a high school that boarded Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Nairobi.

The experience exposed her to the harsh conditions of people living in poverty.

She obtained a Masters in Science (Entrepreneurship) at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in 2010. She worked with a number of businesses and NGOs for three years, which saw her doing work in Kibera.

While there, Sigana enrolled into an accelerator program and developed a concept for briquetting.

She later registered it as a business in 2016 calling it Alternative Waste Technologies.

The same year, she pitched her business to the Tony Elumelu Foundation and was selected as part of the 1,000 Africans on the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, receiving $5,000.

Today, Alternative Waste Technologies sources organic waste from farmlands and markets.

They then carbonize and compact the waste to make charcoal blocks. The waste is sourced from saw dust, rice husks, coffee husks, bagasse and charcoal dust.

Sigana says these bio fuels have less smoke emissions and better burning efficiency.

Some of her clients include schools, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, camps and lodges based in the Maasai Mara reserve and conservancy.

They also sell to informal settlements in Kibera at a lower cost – one 50kg bag of the briquettes costs $20.

“With 170 tonnes of briquettes sold in the community, we have saved about 1,974 trees from being cut,” she says.

Sigana won the NextGen in Franchising Global Competition Award for the social sector in 2018.

For Sigana, being a new wealth creator means using unconventional methods of innovation to generate income, create employment and have an impact in conserving the environment in untapped areas.


Sector: Recycling waste
Brenda Katwesigye, 28, Uganda
Founder and CEO: Wazi Recycling Industries


Brenda Katwesigye, Founder and CEO of Wazi Recycling Industries. Picture: Supplied

Brenda Katwesigye first ventured into entrepreneurship at the age of 21.

While pursuing her BSc in Telecommunication Engineering at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, she started her first business.

Cellphones and laptops were not allowed during graduation ceremonies at the time, so Katwesigye saw the opportunity to provide a service. She created lockers and started a business keeping people’s tech devices for a fee. She and her staff were eventually banned from selling on the university grounds.

In 2014, she was hired by Deloitte East Africa and worked there for three years.

But while she was working full-time, the entrepreneur in her began to resurface.

Katwesigye would work long hours and sometimes at night and that affected her eye sight. She visited an eye center and was told she needed glasses.

But, unfortunately, her insurance could only cover half the price of the spectacles.

“And 80% of that was just the frame and I was like ‘why are you charging me so much money’?”

This birthed Katwesigye’s idea to come up with cost-effective glasses, particularly for those who did not have access to insurance.

Then came Wazi Recyling Industries, a company she founded in 2016.

Wazi means ‘clear’ in Kiswahili.

They would collect, shred and mould the plastic from water bottles and plastic bags to produce eco-friendly glasses that cost $20.

She says they recycle over three tonnes of plastic waste every week contributing to sustainable development in Uganda.

“We’ve reached more than 10,000 people in Uganda with eyewear alone and exported a little bit in Rwanda,” she says.

They have also raised $250,000 worth of investments, which they used to buy machinery with. In 2018, Katwesigye expanded the business to create affordable building material such as interlocking blocks, paving tiles and foundation blocks using recycled material.

They employ seven people full-time, and 24 part-time, made up of women and youth.

Katwesigye is a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow and served on the regional advisory board of the Young African Leaders initiative.

She says being a new wealth creator is about creating revenue or value from unconventional places whilst making an impact.

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