DISGUISED OPPORTUNITIES: BIG THINGS IN SMALL PACKAGES

When I started the waste nylon supply business over eight years ago, I never knew I was on my way into wealth, I was just yet another jobseeker trying out something new though belittling (or so I thought). I come from a family that celebrates the dignity of labour and so after a year’s fruitless search for a white collar job, I began to look in another direction. I had attended a conference on youth empowerment where the speaker had been talking about doing whatever one’s hands find to do and doing it well. ‘’The essence of being an entrepreneur is the ability to discover opportunity and act on it promptly’’, he said while giving the opening charge. It was a one day training session and I was not too hopeful for what could I learn in a few hours that would bring me lasting gain? I had gone with my credentials however hoping to meet a one top executive or two whom I could approach with my problem of joblessness and probably hand my credentials to using that opportunity to get myself the long sought after white collar job. In fact when he talked about opportunity, I congratulated myself for being in the right place.
I would later be disappointed when for the training session proper, I found myself by virtue of registration in a training class on how to convert waste to wealth. I reproved myself for registering at the wrong time. ‘’Maybe if I’d registered earlier or later than I did…’’I thought to myself. Even the trainer for that class was no one highly placed by my judgement. I was not however one to leave in the middle of a programme so I resigned to my fate and stayed on.
After that training, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I had learnt. He’d talked about packing dirt from people’s houses to the public incinerator for money, packing used polythene and recycling it, recycling of waste papers and lots more whole lot of other waste to wealth conversion opportunities. After doing a personal feasibility study of each option, I settled for waste polythene recycling business.
We are surrounded by matter in this world. Matter in simple words, is anything that has weight and occupies space. Wood, nylon, paper, plastic, fabric…All are matter and matter is indestructible, it can only be transformed from one form to the other. This is what holds in the waste polythene recycling business. The waste nylon is transferred from waste to raw materials through recycling.
Waste polythene are polythene materials that have been used and discarded. We use a lot of polythene in everyday life most of which we dispose improperly or burn. Such waste polythene materials include packaged water sachets, polythene used in wrapping new electronics like computers, television sets, grocery bags even bread wrappers amongst others. These can be converted into raw materials that will in turn be used in manufacturing end products like flip-flops, plastic water tanks, disposable plates, poly bags and polythene sheets needed by packing/bagging companies, for use in building water-proof foundations and so on. Polythene rain sheets are also often sewn together and used to build shelters on farm sites. Agricultural companies use the polythene sheets for bagging animal feeds and fertilizers! Recycled polythene has numerous uses. There are two common forms of waste polythene; the waxy flexible plastic (low density polythene) and a tougher rigid more crystalline form. The bulk of polythene waste comes from packaging of household equipments, food items, gift items et.c.
This business is divided into two segments: supplying and recycling. I started out as a supplier and with my work cloths and boots, went round gathering polythene waste into large sacks, stacked them up at a place and got a van to help transport them to recycling plants or the plants’ waste collection joint on designated days after which I am paid per kilogram. The more the waste, the higher the pay.
A good number of jobseekers are quick to assert that there is no job and this blinds them from discovering the opportunities within and around. J.F Kennedy said, ‘’do not think of what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country’’ indeed, it is not only your country but first what you can do for yourself. Most people would shy away from this kind of job considering it belittling. They forget that as my people say,’’ shit money no dey smell’’ which means that if you make money packing dirt, it does not make the money dirty! All you need is the courage to go and creativity.
When I started the supply business, I had no idea who I was going to supply, I just gathered waste polythene and stacked them up day after day. Then I remembered I had the contact of the youth empowerment conference trainer so I contacted him and told him my story. He was eager to help and linked me up with a few recyclers for a start.
Every business has its own risk and an entrepreneur need not fear risks for being a risk bearer is what enterprise is all about. Launching out with boldness and great efforts into new ventures; taking initiative and being creative. Here the challenge was getting recycling plants willing to employ my services for a reasonable fee. Some of the recyclers had more than enough suppliers while some simply promised to get back to me. ‘’it’s just like going for a job interview’’, I thought, ‘’when they promise to get back to you, they never do’’. I kept on gathering and stacking waste polythene though. It was not much fun in the early days. I had to go from door to door going through their garbage for waste polythene. I went to parties and picked waste packaged water sachets and food wraps afterwards. Sometimes I met a friend or relation while at work who thought it was such a demeaning thing to do for a living but I was resolute and after about a year, I was permanently signed to some recyclers as a supplier and was making some money.
Waste polythene recycling is a way of preserving the environment. It is not all about the money. Polythene is a non biodegradable matter and so the best way of preventing it from wrecking havoc in the environment is by recycling. Getting them out of our environment into the recycling process is my way of contributing to environmental development. When people burn used polythene, it contributes to global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer because the carbon produced escapes into the atmosphere.
At some point I began to think of creating jobs for youths who were now in my old shoes and before long, I had four men and a lady on my pay roll. We extended our areas of coverage, we sensitized people on the need to dispose their refuse the right way and provided customised waste disposal bins strictly for used polythene. After five years in the business, it was time to go into recycling proper. By now I had enough capital and should I need a loan, had become credit worthy. That was how I launched into full scale polythene recycling.
Today, I make close to half a billion as my gross annual income. I have recycling plants in four states of the federation and suppliers in twenty four states with a total staff strength of one thousand five hundred. I support my family well and I’m contributing to the development and preservation of the ecosystem. I have helped change the mindset and lifestyle of many people as regards used polythene disposal. When I speak at youth empowerment forums today, I tell them, ’’opportunity most of the time comes in disguise. All you need do is recognise it when it comes and maximise it for big things sometimes come in small packages.

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