Using garbage for green housing and access to healthcareJune 13th, 2022
Franc Kamugyisha, the 29-year-old founder of ‘EcoPlastile’ is the 2022 Commonwealth Young Person of the Year. He has been recognised for his organisation’s work recycling consumer plastic and glass waste to produce long-lasting plastic roofing tiles as well as biodegradable facemasks and shields while helping slum dwellers to purchase healthcare using plastic waste.
Abdul Lawal, a 29 years old Correspondent from Nigeria interviewed Franc Kamugyisha about his life and work.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.
I am a multi-passionate social entrepreneur who was born in Nyabweya village in Fort Portal, Uganda’s Tourism City.
I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 15 years old selling matooke (green bananas) in Uganda to the less privileged people in our host communities for refugees.
I was inspired to start Ecoplastile because of my experience growing up in a slum area of Kampala where I witnessed the suffering of vulnerable people resulting from poor disposal of plastic waste. These practices caused sewage to overflow into their homes.
Over 51% of the waste generated in Kampala, remains uncollected with post-consumer waste littering the streets and encroaching on poorly built houses during heavy rains. People have died and lost properties and some have been unable to go to work or school at such times. I too have suffered as a result of poor waste management; I contracted cholera and had only a 10% chance of survival.
I have passionately embarked on a journey to use my skills to develop and employ innovative solutions (Ecoplastile) in tackling the waste management, housing and environmental crisis facing Ugandans.
I have an MSc in Development Economics, a BBA Degree in Accounting and Finance, and a National Certificate in Building and Construction.
I’ve also obtained other professional certificates in various disciplines ranging from Entrepreneurship, Small Business Management, Introduction to Business Incubation, Certificate of Public Administration and more.
What are some of the achievements of your company?
We have achieved a lot. Our organisation focuses on the eradication of environmental hazards through recycling waste plastics and manufacturing ecoplastile. We contribute to green housing and replace expensive timber with more cost-effective options for the benefit of all Ugandans.
Our social enterprise allows thousands of uninsured poor slum dwellers to collect and use plastic garbage as payment to an insurance scheme to obtain health coverage. This has improved access to healthcare, especially for segregated communities in Uganda. To reach the goal of zero unemployment in 2030 we have employed over 180 jobless Ugandans to work with us. These are a few of our many achievements.
What challenges has your organisation faced?
Of course, we have faced numerous challenges. Using wholesalers and retailers is the best way to penetrate the market. However, since ours is a new product, stockists do not automatically agree to stock them. We have also encountered difficulties in getting raw materials, especially during the lockdown. Additionally, skills in plastic extrusion technology are in short supply.
What are some of your organisation`s future plans?
We intend to expand sales and marketing efforts in all of Africa, especially in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan.
Photo Credit: The Commonwealth
About correspondent, Abdul Lawal: I am 29 years old. I have (BSc ) in Mass Communication and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication. I am currently enrolled in the MSc Mass Communication program at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria Nigerian. I am the author of two English and Hausa novels titled ” All Glitters not Gold and Kishin-Hausa’. I am currently working with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Nigeria as the Executive Officer under the Public Relations Department. I enjoy writing, reading/watching news stories, and travelling.
The 2022 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work was held in March. It highlighted the contributions young people are making in their communities and their commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).