Harare Sunshine Group – Waste to Everyone, Money to Us

“We started with clean up campaigns in Mabvuku, where I grew up. We can clean today, but the next day the streets would be littered again. Soon we realized that this was not sustainable, we had to do more”, says Ronald Mubaisa, a co-founder of Harare Sunshine Group.

After a while, Ronald and his team realized that their efforts were not yielding their desired results. On the internet, they found a group of youth who turned an entire street in Germany into a green street. Inspired from the German initiative, Ronald and his team wrote a proposal to the City of Harare of doing something similar in their city. In 2013, they signed a memorandum of understanding with the city.
The plan was to plant vegetation along the street and harvest water from the buildings or exploit the underground river, which flows beneath the street. They researched on how best the initiative could come to fruition. They even wrote to Harvard University for their support about the initiative, and thee University promised to confer with honorary degrees if they succeeded.

Success was clearly on the horizon for the group, with a promise of funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The City of Harare expressed a desire to manage this fund on behalf of the group, saying that they were too young at 27 years of age. Unfortunately JICA did not agree on this, since they stated that the project could not come to fruition.

“We had put everything into this project. Although we were disappointed, we agreed not to give up on the environment”. – explains Ronald

Afterwards, Ronald and his team decided to volunteer and to clean up during the annual Harare Agricultural Show. This show  attracts over two hundred thousand people per year and generates massive volume of waste. Without any funding, the team found enthusiastic volunteers who came in support of this noble cause.

“During the clean up of the Harare Agricultural Show grounds, we realized that for a decade, a lot of waste had piled up at the show grounds. In 2015, we proposed to recover all recyclable materials which had been collected over time”. – adds Ronald.

Although skeptical, the authorities gave the group a chance. The team (now 13 members) recovered recyclable waste which they sold it to local recycling companies. Within a year and a half, the entire mountain of waste had been cleared. In appreciation, the authorities, gave the group the piece of land which had been occupied by waste.

The group received funding from the Germany embassy, has traveled to Stockholm for a case study and built its waste transfer station. The business was growing, scope of operation widened to include biodegradable. They now have spaces in Mabvuku and Budiriro and are working on establishing an additional space in Epworth.

“None of us had every undertaken environmental studies or learnt something at the University. All of this has been learning by doing on the ground. Our vision is that in order to make the environment green again, the business must be profitable and self-sustaining”, – concludes Ronald.

Photo credits: Susan Madodo

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