Solid waste management has been the greatest public health threat in Liberian cities. During years of conflict, residents of capital city Monrovia lived without any formal garbage collection and disposal system. Aside from institutional initiatives, local private actors have been building social and sustainable businesses to create a clean and healthy environment for the Liberians. Paynesville Waste Enterprise, owned by Princess Kofa was created in 2010, when paying for garbage was not conceivable to many Liberians.
Late October, Princess Kofa, owner of Paynesville Waste Enterprise, came to the Netherlands for a business trip. Together with SPARK, our Program partner in post-conflict countries, we organized networking meetings at AfrikaDag and around the Netherlands. Here is why BiD Network is supporting Paynesville Waste Enterprice in growing and getting financed.
Four times a week, 10 employees of Paynesville Waste Enterprise go door-to-door to dispose the garbage of 300 households, small businesses and institutions located in the Paynesville, Joe-bar area. Every Saturday, the marketing agents collect garbage fees ranging from 50 to 500 Liberian dollars and raise public awareness about waste management and health measures. “Paying for garbage is still new to Liberians” but the attitudes are changing. “Now, I have willing clients waiting for me every day and paying to dispose the garbage” Princess Kofa says proudly.
On her entrepreneurial journey, Princess Kofa faced a few challenges. Being absent from the field during her maternity leave, she lost customers, money and employees. Her confidence came back with the prospect of the 2010 business plan competition organised by our Liberian partner, BSC Monrovia. She won the competition and a USD 10,000 loan prize funded by SPARK.
Despite the experience of a breakdown after her maternity leave, she does not consider being a woman as a challenge in Liberia. “We have a free society where individuals are free to do what is right or helpful for the country. The city government opened the waste sector to all interested peoples regardless of gender or cultural background.” She does not even see any insuperable obstacles with starting a business in Liberia. In reality, it is neither simple or easy but Princess Kofa’s determination and commitment to do something valuable for her community were enough to realize it.
Now that Paynesville Waste Enterprise runs smoothly with motivated young staff, the organization has scalability in its sights. ‘In five years, I want Paynesville Waste Enterprise to be one of the biggest waste companies in Liberia’ says Princess Kofa.