Trash for cash means there are no wasted opportunities
As the old saying goes, “trash is king,” at least in one Liberian community. In a country recently plagued by insufficient solid waste collection, Greaves, a 28 year old Liberian, hopes to turn this trash into cash. Greaves’ business, Youth Sustainable Waste Management Business Assistance Program (YSWMBAP), provides opportunities for youth in Liberia. As a child growing up in war-torn Liberia, Greaves was not so fortunate. This context of struggle and wasted opportunity eventually fostered in him a spirit of entrepreneurship and social responsibility. What Greaves learned the hard way, YSWMBAP instills in a new generation of youth in Liberia. Who knew that solid household waste, mere trash, could carry so much potential?
YSWMBAP’s business involves several phases. First, and most importantly, is community engagement. YSWMBAP educates communities on the advantages of proper waste disposal and also provides households with suitable trash bins. To collect the trash, Andrew’s company hires a fleet of young, underprivileged adults ranging from ages 18-25. These employees earn respect, they earn a monthly salary, and they ultimately earn opportunities to rise out of their meager surroundings and into a promising future. Much like Andrew did as a youth. With great opportunity comes great potential and a future for the down and out.
Andrew and his team believe that education and civic motivation are some of the most important principles in order to bring in the country the much desired stability by tackling major problems such as unemployment that mainly affect the young population. “This is a threat to peace and democracy because these young people could easily be mobilized to cause chaos again”, he says.
To serve this purpose YONER-LIBERIA creates projects where young people are able to earn a living through socially beneficial activities. It attempts as he claims to serve “as a beacon of hope for the youth where they would be provided the necessary support through innovative strategies to enable them realize their potential and secure a better future.”
Andrew’s vision is broad. His company, so far, has provided academic scholarships for over 100 students. In Andrew’s community in Liberia, direct, tangible results are evident. Piles of trash have diminished. Fresh air, and not trash, fills the air. Fewer young people sit around indolent, lacking opportunities. Ultimately this creative entrepreneur and his innovative take on trash collection can scale throughout Liberia and even beyond.
This story has been bought to you by the African Entrepreneur Awards and entrehub.org. BMCE Bank powers the awards.