What we’ve learned so far / Building A Social Enterprise

Our team initially looked at what we have accomplished since our launch in 2018 but now it is time to look at what we have learned since that time. While establishing CASH IT! we found ourselves running into a litany of challenges. Starting a business anywhere can be difficult; nevertheless, we found that learning through the process proves to be invaluable. Patricia, our project officer, has been on the front line working through each and every challenge.

Three challenges in particular that Patricia has encountered were: (1) finding the right partners to team up with (2) maintaining quality of the supply chain and (3) building trust with suppliers. Having proper business support for legal needs or for accounting purposes was extremely important for our success; thus, we knew we needed to build the right team. There are many experienced lawyers and accountants but we were creating a new business model and therefore needed professionals who wanted to take the plunge with us and create new and innovative ways to overcome hurdles and find creative solutions to difficult problems. We further needed to find the right people to maintain the equipment as well as identify service providers such as transportation.

After identifying our core personnel we needed to build trust with our suppliers. Reliability of the supply arose as an issue. Lack of reliability, if it continued, would affect the quality of plastic being collected and the timing of the collection. This is something that we needed to streamline and be able to predict in order to establish a recycling flow that works from start to finish and is profitable.

Another challenge Patricia encountered was proving herself to the local community as a woman. In a male dominated industry, she was constantly asked if she would be able to handle negotiating or even complete tasks such as climbing the trucks if needed. Initially she felt discouraged but pushed through with vigor. Now when she is asked these types of questions she smiles boldly and defiantly, works diligently, and exceeds expectations..

It is safe to say there have been numerous challenges that have been encountered along the way. Nevertheless, we have learned a great deal from the nature of how business is conducted in Ghana, to the way the recycling industry is run which is specific to Accra and our local community, Katamanso. We discovered that middlemen control the market and the information chain with an informal benefit system. We were also concerned when realizing that the price for plastic waste was 120-150% higher than what we had initially stated in our pre-launch business plan. We also found that availability of waste was restricted by the middlemen and their interests to serve their existing customer base because there is a real recycling economy in Accra.

We want to provide opportunities to build profitable businesses with the women in our Katamanso community. Furthermore, will continue to tackle each challenge that presents itself and find a way to build win-win scenarios for a growing recycling economy in Accra.

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