Article

Creating shared value

Rubbish to riches

On the outskirts of some of the very wealthiest places in all of Africa lies Diepsloot. Diepsloot is a sprawling, burgeoning township that is home to hundreds of thousands, most of them living in shacks. It’s crime ridden and desperately poor. But a number of individuals working at Deloitte in Johannesburg believed they could make a difference in Diepsloot, using their experience and knowledge and, if need be, just their time and effort. In particular, they believed in a young Diepsloot man named Sbusiso Shongwe. Shongwe’s journey to Diepsloot began in 2016 when he left his job and his home in Hyde Park to live in his grandmother’s home in the township.

Hyde Park is home to arguably the swishest shopping mall in South Africa and some of the continent’s most expensive apartments. Off-peak, it can be just a 20-minute drive to Diepsloot – but the two places are worlds apart. In 2016 Shongwe was working in TV news. He had a good job and a good salary. But he believed he had a higher purpose; he believed he could make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged communities struggling to get by. In the township, he hooked up with a young Diepsloot self-starter named Nondumiso Sibiya and, together, they started an enterprise called Boombadotmobi. As Shongwe explains, their business philosophy, Boombadotmobi “completes the cycle of waste” by connecting the producers of waste – whether it be plant or garden waste, building material or plastics – with waste collectors and recyclers.

In the mostly rich areas bordering and near Diepsloot, the affluence of residents and businesses means that they generate a great deal of waste. But the nearest landfill site is in the south of Johannesburg – more than 40km away. And getting rubbish there means time and expense. Which often means dumping. Enter Boombadotmobi. What the business does is that it sends out self-employed truck drivers to collect rubbish – for a guaranteed fee – to Sandton, Fourways, Lonehill, as far as Rosebank. The truck owners each employ at least two people to help with the loading – and offloading – of refuse and rubble. Thanks to Boombadotmobi, these freelance rubbish removers earn income and pay wages. Green waste (Boomba has already done over 200 tons) is processed and used by farmers for compost. Much of the construction waste (in excess of 100 tons so far, and counting) ends up dumped into the streets of Diepsloot. It isn’t just summarily dumped, though; it’s used as aggregate, compacted and used to upgrade as many as five kilometres of eroded, rutted Diepsloot dirt roads to date.

What’s different about Boombadotmobi is that customers get to see what becomes of their waste. Drivers need to have smartphones so that they can send the waste producers what has become of their rubbish – how it has been recycled and repurposed. The Boombadotmobi email signature says: “Do you know where your rubble ends up? Let us remove and dispose of your waste responsibly.”

Deloitte found Shongwe and Sibiya online and decided to invest in them. The pair weren’t looking for cash handouts. What they wanted was expert business advice and mentoring. The fledgling business still faces great challenges. But it’s making a difference. To the environment in which the people of Diepsloot live, work and play. It’s creating employment and micro local economic activity. And it’s chipping away at the scourge of illegal dumping. Deloitte invested in Boombadotmobi by paying for Boomba’s partners to attend two days at an annual event presented by Singularity University. Then Deloitte put the business on its Booster Programme for six months. This entailed detailed, hands-on advice, instruction and mentoring from Deloitte consultants. Sbusiso says, “Nondumiso and I believed we were onto something. But how to grow our business, how to achieve maximum impact and generate profits that would make us sustainable? Well, we realised we needed help. And then Deloitte stepped into our lives.

“We know that we’re just at the beginning of our journey but we’ve got big dreams. Deloitte have given us the knowledge and the tools we need to keep Boombadotmobi growing, to take it to the next level.”

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