Meet Brian, GSC 2018 Finalist, making Eco-Friendly bags from used baby diapers.
2018 Governors Startup Challenge Finalist, Brian Were of Begi Bora Limited is making Eco-friendly carriage bags from used baby diapers. Helping to conserve the environment and championing for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action.
What is the story behind starting your business?
I started Begi Bora in August 2017 after the government imposed a ban on the use of plastic bags. I noticed that there was going to be a market niche in terms of carriage mechanism and the incoming alternatives were quite expensive hence the idea of recycling diapers to produce Eco-friendly carriage bags was born. Other factors included my passion for environmental conservation and championing for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 13- Climate Action.
What is unique about your business and what service or solution does it offer?
The uniqueness of Begi Bora is using diapers to produce Eco-friendly carriage bags while at the same time ensuring proper waste management practices, hence, a doubled edge sword solution. At Begi Bora, we address the problem of irresponsible dumping of used diapers by collecting and taking them through a thorough cleaning process and ending up producing affordable Eco-friendly carriage bags to be used in supermarkets and in seedling production firms.
To counter the negative attitude people may have on the used diapers, the bags are coated with pleasant and colorful materials that makes them beautiful and attractive. The diapers therefore are the skeleton frame that provide the much-needed strength and is therefore sandwiched in between two colorful thin materials.
What will you say has driven you to be successful in your business?
After the ban on plastic bags, people had to go for other alternatives, hence there was a ready market and the existing alternatives could not sustain the vast demand from all over. Provision of a cheaper alternative compared to the one already in the market also attracted more customers.
How does your business help the community around you?
The business has helped in reducing the unlawful disposal of used diapers which poses a threat to our environment, for instance; blockage of sewer system, contamination of water, awful smell, accumulation of diapers in dumpsites near homesteads and children’s playing areas etc. Begi Bora, has also led to creation of employment opportunities through collection of used diapers as raw materials, reduced the cost of purchasing carriage bags and eventually provided an improvised parallel garbage collection system to help in disposing the diapers.
What challenges have you experienced since you started your business?
Our biggest challenge has been accessing capital to run the business much efficiently and purchasing cleaning machines. The inadequate working capital for daily and routinely operation of my business has led to several challenges since most of the operations require financing for effectiveness. Stiff competition and negative public attitude are among other challenges that we have experienced.
How did you feel when you were selected to participate in GSC 2018?
The feeling was quite exciting. I knew the program was very competitive but I had hopes of securing a ticket as a finalist. I believe this opportunity will be an eye opener to the vision of my business and more so act as a stepping stone to the scaling up of my business to reach broader regions and impact more persons in the society.
Please share any transforming stories you have experienced so far?
With the help of my mentor, I was able to showcase Begi Bora business during the TECH EXPO at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). I received valuable feedback from JKUAT council and my fellow students on how to better my business. I also participated in Kenya National Innovation Agency competition in the Environment water and sanitation category after the incorporation of the seedling production bags which is a major issue, since there has been no other alternative to replace the plastic bags used in this sector.
What plans do you have to expand your business?
My plans in the next five years are to sensitize the society at the grassroots levels on the importance of proper disposal of used diapers to ensure a diaper waste free environment. I’m also planning to provide an improvised parallel garbage collection system which will help sourcing out of diapers and increase the collection of raw materials hence boosting production of the bags and eradicating unlawful disposal of waste diapers. Our marketing strategy is to reach out to small retailers, suppliers, wholesalers and eventually to the manufacturer.
Finally, our long-term impact is to scale to other counties and eventually prosper in the East African Community as the leading business in production of Eco-friendly carriage and seedling production bags that helps to conserve our mother nature.
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“Impacting the society in a sustainable perspective”