Botswana: Trash Equals Cash for Mabesekwa Woman

Mabesekwa — She did not grow up in a family that traded in the empty bottles and cans but while on a visit to Francistown, she saw some ladies going through every dumpster for empties selling for P1 a piece.

That opened her eyes to the fact that the streets were littered with gold.

This is none other than Ms Kalale Sehathololo, 56, of Mabesekwa settlement, some 90 kilometres west of Francistown.

For many people, making money through selling empty beer bottles and cans would probably sound outlandish. Not so for the money wise!

"Think twice before throwing anything that seems like trash to you.

Your bottles, cardboard boxes, cartridges, cans and many other things could be turned into cash which adds up to a potentially big boost to your savings," said Ms Sehathololo.

The enterprising Ms Sehathololo anticipates that with the summer heat leading to increased beer consumption, her business will flourish.

Narrating her story, she recalls that it was during her visit to Francistown last year that she saw some women picking up some bottles near bars and in the streets.

Upon enquiring, a friend told her that the women were going to sell the bottles to some wholesalers in exchange for a voucher, food items or beer.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity by relying solely on her Mabesekwa backyard garden from which she sold vegetables, she chose to pursue the new business.

Two months down the line, with the help of her children, she had collected more than 3 000 empty beer bottles.

She then hired a car to transport the first load to Francistown but on the way, the driver told her that to make more money, she must put the bottles in a crate.

She bought 10 and in an hour's time, she had hit the jackpot.

Ms Sehathololo says another idea of selling cans entered her mind whereupon she collected as many as possible and crushed them.

"If they are not crushed they weigh less so crushing them increases their weight," she explained.

She said the two businesses were complementing each other and put food on the table.

On challenges, she said the main one was shortage of crates and the other unavailability of empties due to competition as more people had ventured into the business.

However, she said she had an advantage over her rivals because many people in the village, especially boys and girls, knew she traded in empty bottles.

She says she buys a bottle for 50 thebe and sells it for P1 while she charges P10 per crate.

Ms Sehathololo said she was elated with her double achievement.

"You know, I am not just making money, I also clean our village," she said, adding that bottles and cans were the most littered waste and remained a headache for many human habitats.

She encouraged other people, especially the youth, who were faced with unemployment, not to be choosy when it came to making a living.

She said the youth tended to shun some jobs and prefer others even when there were no employment opportunities for them.

Source: BOPA

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