Young entrepreneur cleans up in Nairobi

Award winner’s business is rubbish.

A young entrepreneur from Kenya who set up a business to tackle waste disposal in Nairobi has been named Youth Business International Entrepreneur of the Year.

Zablon Karingi Muthaka, 26, won the award – which celebrates the achievements of young entrepreneurs who have been supported by the Youth Business International (YBI) network – for his innovative way of tackling a looming environmental crisis in Nairobi.

Frustrated by the scarcity of official waste disposal sites and the accumulation of rubbish on every street corner, Zablon spotted a business opportunity and set up Beta Bins Waste Management, a domestic waste collection company.

The improvement to local living conditions was immediate and dramatic, and the business proved so successful that its remit has been expanded to bones, metallic products, composite manure and foodstuffs. Today the company employs five young people, three of whom were unable to continue with their schooling, one an orphan and the other a rehabilitating convict. “Winning is a sign of hope and an example to others of what can be achieved if you believe in your dream and your abilities,” said Mr Muthaka.

He was supported by his local YBI programme, Kenya Youth Business Trust, which awarded him a start-up loan of $1,500 and provided him with an experienced business mentor. As the overall competition winner, Zablon Muthaka received prize money equal to the amount of his original loan and Kenya Youth Business Trust received $3,500 to help other young entrepreneurs start up in business.

The winner saw off stiff competition from Amin Ismail Almel of Sunrise Manisha Kirad of Shambhavi Plastics, two young entrepreneurs from India who also made it through to the final stage of the competition.

Sunrise Systems produces detectors to identify counterfeit currency, employs five people and generates an annual turnover of over $100,000. Shambhavi Plastics provides tailor-made moulds for pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies, employs 12 people and has an annual turnover of $54,000. Both were supported by the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust, the YBI programme in India.

YBI is a network of 39 locally based youth business initiatives worldwide that aim to enable young people to work for themselves by providing them with financial support and a business mentor.