Meet Habib An Entrepreneur Turn Waste to Wealth (Lessons To N-Power Beneficiaries)

Habib Ahmed's adventure into business is proof that "opportunity comes to those who act, not to those who complain". Recalling how he started, Habib Ahmed said, "Each time I came across heaps of waste, especially used plastic bags, I got angry and worried. Gradually, my anger began to motivate me into what I could do to reduce them."

Recycling plastic bags is not a new business venture; the challenge was how to marry the goal of managing the environment and that of making profit as a business. "I know in other countries things like used plastic bags, which have long biodegradable lifespan, were turned to wealth, but I had to first conduct research extensively into what I needed to do to convert garbage of used plastic bags into reusable products," he stated.

At the beginning, Habib was worried that raising capital could be a big problem. His personal savings from being a supplier and small-scale contractor was at the time insufficient to start the business. However, once he put his mind to it, he decided that nothing, including insufficient funds, would deter him. "It took about a year to increase my savings," he recalled.

By 2016, Habib had saved enough to start Environmental Expressions, a plastic bag recycling, manufacturing and waste management services business with five workers.

According to Habib, the Chief Operating Officer, a typical production process begins with the collection of used plastic bags. "We go to dump sites. and collect the items. We partner with many 'scavengers', tell them the kind of materials we are looking for and the quality of materials that we want. They have their own team of collectors."

"There are opportunities everywhere. Once you understand
that and you are willing to allow
other people to share a small part
of the profit with you, you'll be
fine" Narrating further, Habib informed us of the most critical stage in the recycling process: "Once we finish collecting, we take the wastes to the factory for cleaning.

We wash and dry the materials. It is important for the materials to dry properly because water does not go well with recycling plastic materials. Once we dry properly, we grind and melt them into strands, which are cut into small pellets.

The pellets are then dried and taken into a blowing machine that would melt the plastic and blow it like bubble gum to expand it. That is how we are able to get the nylons which are collected as ropes and taken to our sealing and cutting section."

Within the 11 months he began the business, Habib has increased his staff strength from five to 11, excluding the 20 or more "scavengers" indirectly employed to collect used plastic bags from dump sites.

Does this mean the business is a money- spinner?
Habib's frank response had some lessons in it: "The business is profitable depending on your source of raw material. Initially when we started the business, we would buy materials slightly processed to a certain level; so I asked, how could I increase my profitability?
What if I did the processing myself from the scratch? That led me to dump sites. and "scavengers" who began to supply me with the materials. We approached an ingenious welder who fabricated the crushing machine for us and, with that, we were able to process the materials to a point where we could wash, dry and then use them in the factory."

According to Habib, there were many times he had to convince and motivate himself that the business was worth going into. At such times, he believed that because he had properly planned his business, this helped him to carry on.

"There are opportunities everywhere," he said. "Once you understand that and you are willing to allow other people to share a small part of the profit with you, you'll be fine."

Reference: YouWinConnect

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