This January LionessesofAfrica.com celebrates Africa's Women Social Entrepreneurs.
All Women Recycling is an inspiring women-led social enterprise in South Africa turning discarded plastic soft-drink bottles into beautiful upcycled, highly decorative giftboxes.
The desire to create a sustainable and profitable business, whilst at the same time supporting the environment and empowering other women in the community, was the inspiration for All Women Recycling, a small eco-business based in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town in South Africa. Its founder, Lynn Worsley, wanted to find a practical way of keeping the country and its communities clean, by finding a sustainable solution to the thousands of discarded plastic soft-drink bottles. The end goal was to create sought-after, high quality, upcycled products using these plastic bottles as the source materials, that would benefit the environment and empower local women in the communities. The result was the creation of the kliketyklikbox™, a versatile and trendy, yet highly practical and upmarket, eco-friendly gift box recycled from these discarded plastic 2-litre cool drink bottles.Today, All Women Recycling produces approximately 350 kliketyklikboxes™ each day, all created by local young women, primarily previously unemployed single mothers. Women who have been unemployed for longer than 2 years are taught the specialist skills needed to create these boxes, whilst at the same time learning essential business management, life and sales skills.
"Keeping our country clean one bottle at a time" - our goal is very focused and simple; to create sought-after upcycled products that benefit the environment and empower local women." - Lynn Worsley, Founder of All Women Recycling
All Women Recycling is a wonderful example of how one woman’s eco-entrepreneurship vision is making a tangible contribution, not only to creating cleaner townships in South Africa by strengthening environmental awareness amongst residents, but is also creating jobs and training and development opportunities for women. Lynn’s approach also takes her into local schools where she has the opportunity to raise awareness amongst young people about the importance of recycling in the townships. As a result, numerous collection points have been set up in schools and across the community for the collection of the plastic soft drinks bottles, ready for upcycling by the company. In addition, discarded plastic bottles are also sourced from landfills, from the many street waste collectors, and from various other collection points located around Cape Town. The enterprise benefits so many people along the value chain, including waste collection vehicle drivers, dump site sorters and street waste collectors, all of whom profit from having additional sources of income. The process of recycling plastic bottles not only creates employment opportunities for those most in need, but also raises community awareness of environmental concerns, keeps townships clean and contributes to mitigating climate change.
Today, All Women Recycling are supplying the kliketyklikboxes™ to more than 30 retail outlets in South Africa. In addition, about 60% of the eco-friendly gift boxes are exported to countries such as Germany, Switzerland, UK, USA and Australia. The company’s mission is highly commendable and a real example to others in Africa, dedicating itself to creating truly exceptional products and delivering service excellence to its customers. The company prides itself on listening carefully and responding to the needs and expectations of both customers and the community. Within the company, the culture is centered on encouraging individual creativity and innovation amongst the women crafters, and it continually seeks to improve its performance and the working environment for employees. It focuses on nurturing its women employees through the establishment of effective social networks, provision of new and specialist skills training and business education. At a greater community level, the company is highly committed to creating awareness of environmental issues and the need to recycle, reuse and reduce as part of daily life in the townships.
One of the unique differentiators of All Women Recycling as a business can be found in the strength of its ties to international distributors. This distribution network is used to provide access to key global markets for its products and the products of its partner network. Future growth plans for the business are exciting, with an eye on expanding business outreach from the current 11 countries, including the USA, Australia and European countries, by building and maintaining solid business relationships. In addition, there are plans to buy a workspace to offer specialist training courses to women, and also plans to buy a vehicle to collect waste bottles more cost-efficiently. All Women Recycling also aims to convince beverage companies to set up collection points for their plastic bottles. The company is also looking to increase the demand for its products by expanding its product range. This would allow the enterprise to employ more women, promote women to managerial positions, and increase the number of recycled bottles used in the production process, thereby creating a greater positive environmental impact.
The inspirational efforts of All Women Recycling as a sustainable eco-business which creates opportunities for previously disadvantaged women, whilst at the same time, finding solutions to the problem of plastic bottle waste in South Africa, have been recognised globally in the past 12 months. The company was the winner of the prestigious SEED South Africa Award 2014. The SEED Initiative is a high impact, global campaign which aims to promote entrepreneurship for sustainable development.
Why LoA loves it….
At Lionesses of Africa, we love the fact that Lynn Worsley and her team are showing the rest of the African continent, and indeed the world, what can be done to find innovative and highly sustainable solutions to a major environmental problem. By creating highly decorative, high quality, and ultimately, highly desirable products from discarded plastic soft drinks bottles that cause so many environmental problems and challenges, the company and all its employees are making a real difference. Lynn and her company are an inspiration and a real example of innovation and social enterprise in action in Africa. --- Melanie Hawken, LoA founder and editor-in-chief