Impact SA

Mpilenhle Recycling – From trash collector to thriving business


It all began with three eager young entrepreneurs from the Osizweni township in Newcastle, northern KwaZulu-Natal. Gcina Makhoba and partners started Mpilenhle Recycling with a borrowed bakkie and no employees.

They had to be hands-on for real, overcoming many challenges, especially the stigma attached to this being such a “dirty job”. Gcina recalls an incident in 2009 that really hit a nerve, while collecting glass next to a shebeen where people were socialising, and someone mentioned that he would do anything for money, but not “that”.

Living a life worthwhile

As a qualified engineer, he was able to carry on providing for his family by staying in his regular job, but he felt driven by something beyond that – living a life that is worthwhile and building something that would impact his community.

Edge Growth stepped into the picture when Mpilenhle Recycling joined one of their corporate supplier development programmes which they were running for a national beverage company.

The guidance from this programme and one-on-one mentorship paid off in many ways, most of all giving them access to funding, enabling enormous business growth and impact.

Funding reliable transport

Their first round of funding from the Edge Action Fund was for a reliable 4-ton bakkie to replace the unreliable second-hand vehicle. This step motivated Gcina to make a fulltime move to Mpilenhle Recycling – if Edge Growth had this much confidence in them, he needed to show the same commitment. The second round of funding was for a bakkie with innovative technology – detachable cages which could be left at various locations, keeping the waste tidy until collection and reducing travel distances for collectors significantly.

This business continues to invest in technology to improve and grow their offerings. A proud, thriving business impacting their community

  • From collecting around 13 tons of recyclable waste per month, they now collect more than 200 tons.
  • They currently employ 40 people full time.
  • They impact the lives of more than 250 community members daily.

“There is nothing like the positive feeling of seeing someone from your own neighbourhood who had no source of income, now being able to support their family!”

The Edge Action Fund helping corporates and SMEs

Established in 2011, Edge Action is Edge Growth’s in-house enterprise and supplier development fund, providing effective ESD solutions, maximising socioeconomic impact through responsible investment and ensuring B-BBEE code compliance. Our funding is tailored to individual entrepreneurs and comes with support, such as specialised mentorship and access to markets through corporate supply chains, propelling entrepreneurs to next level growth and scalability.


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