Waste has become good for Limpopo entrepreneur
Hope Makhavhu had always found it hard to use the outside lavatories whenever he visited his grandmother in Venda. That is why he came up with a business idea centered on improving these kinds of lavatories. His company, Mabunga Toilets, which was established in 2007, specialises in draining pit latrines and septic tanks in rural areas.
Mabunga Toilets also redesign and improve the pit latrines using ceramic seats, insert tiles and make it look better (and this has helped reduce problems of children falling into them).
Prior to establishing his business, Makhavhu conducted research in the Vhembe District, to determine its viability by understanding the causes of the area’s sanitation problems. He found that there was generally poor hygiene and that many people didn’t appreciate the importance of washing their hands after using the lavatory and there was a lack of proper infrastructure.
“We realised that although this problem could not be solved overnight, by providing improved lavatory structures to each household, we could work towards finding a solution. At the same time, there had to be an effort to work on enhancing people’s knowledge about hygiene and health matters and getting the community to participate in overall sanitation,” says Makhavhu.
The Thohoyandou-based company also recycles the waste that they collect and use it to produce compost. They purify the water they take from septic tanks in rural areas to make it suitable for watering plants. The company has 12 employees and their customers include community members/individuals, schools and government.
Mabunga Toilets has grown significantly over the years and they count, amongst their achievements, featuring twice as a finalist in the annual Eskom Business Investment Competition (BIC) in 2014 and 2016. As a result of taking part in the competition, they also managed to create solid business connections at the annual three-day Small Business Expo (SBE) in Johannesburg. They got the opportunity to exhibit at the SBE as part of their prize of being a BIC finalist.
Makhavhu’s journey has been inspiring and it shows that entrepreneurial opportunities are usually right under people’s noses, waiting to be seized. His company’s biggest customers include the Departments of Health and Basic Education in Limpopo. The Basic Education Department had a problem of a lack of hygienic and safe lavatories for learners, which Mabunga solved by providing both lavatories and septic tanks.