Issa Lema, 31 years old, was born in Dar es Salaam region, where his parents still live, and is currently living in the Ubungo area of Dar es Salaam. While not yet married, he has two school aged children. Issa’s business is unconventional for many Tanzanians, waste material, and involves collecting and buying waste plastic materials, and then processing for recycling. He has a range customers, with his major clients being factory owners who product plastic and PVC products.
In 2009, Issa began saving money while he was in school and working part-time at his father’s small chalk production factory. He found that there was a great demand from college students for laptop computers and so he decided to use his savings to purchase some computers. This was his first company and the beginning of journey in business.
In his current business, in the area of waste material, he collects raw materials such as old buckets, gallons, plastic pipes, and DVD covers. He describes the material he collects saying, “we are in need of things that people do not need." He describes a situation in which he came across a neighbourhood burning a large amount of waste plastic. He realized that this material was valuable to him and quickly put out the fire.
“I quickly put out the fire and told them not to do that again instead they could sell it to me.”
The first loan Issa took our was because demand for his products was growing and he realized he needed another machine.
“A friend of mine who was Tujijenge customer advised me to go for Tujijenge loans and so I decided to join. I took Tshs. 4,000,000 of which half of it used to buy reject scraps of PVC pipes from Simba plastic factory and the rest to add up to the money I saved for purchasing a new pelletizer machine.”
Issa says there are many challenges in the waste material sector in Tanzania, some of them include: high electricity costs; power cuts that may lead to delay of production; price fluctuation of materials; an increased number of buyers of plastic waste materials (including from outside Tanzania, especially the Chinese): and a lack of grants from the government and other donors.
Despite many challenges, Issa proudly boasts about the success he has achieved and says that the loan he has taken from Tujijenge allowed him to address problems in his life.
“Mkopo wa Tujijenge umeniwezesha kuongezea mtaji na kuagiza mzigo zaidi na hivyo kuongeza kipato. Nina uwezo wa kulisha familia yangu, kulipia ada za watoto, kulipa kodi, nimeweza kununua kiwanja cha eka kumi na tano maeneo ya Mkuranga, nimesajili biashara yangu na pia nimeweza kununua gari ambayo sasa inafanya ukusanyaji mzigo kuwa rahisi.”
He has plans to develop the business further, including opening an office where he provide his clients with convenient customer service. He also has plans to travel, learn more about the sector, and include additional materials in his collection and processing.
“If all goes well, I plan to go to China and stay for about two months and learn newer technologies concerning my business; also I plan to start making charcoal by using after harvest waste materials”.