Mpilenhle Recycling co-founder Gcina Makhoba

A 100% black-owned recycling business in Newcastle has become another example of how growth support initiatives are integral to drive entrepreneurs to the next level of growth and scalability.

The business was started in 2009 by three young entrepreneurs from Osizweni township in Newscastle, KwaZulu Natal. With a borrowed bakkie and no employees, these three entrepreneurs started out by collecting and sorting the recycling themselves.

An introduction to Edge Growth, expert solutionists in small business development, saw
Mpilenhle Recycling grow through funding and business mentoring. A 4-ton truck and bakkie with detachable cages followed, investment in innovative recycling technology that put Mpilenhle far ahead of its competitors.

“Mpilenhle has grown from collecting 13 tons of recyclable material when we started to collecting over 200 tons of recyclable material today, which is a big achievement for us which we are very proud of,” says Mpilenhle Recycling co-founder Gcina Makhoba.

This month Mpilenhle Recycling have successfully exited the Edge Growth Action ESD Fund, having repaid their funding settlement amount in full.

“Growing each year in expertise, plant size and staff count, Mpilenhle Recycling has become a poster child demonstrating the potential when a small business is given the correct platform and support to grow. We are so proud of our association with Gcina Makhoba and his team over the last ten years and wish Mpilenhle Recycling every success going forward,” says Fatima Munshi, Associate Principal at Edge Growth.

The Edge Action ESD Fund, which was established in 2011, is Edge Growth’s in-house enterprise and supplier development fund. Funding is tailored to individual entrepreneurs along with support mechanisms, such as specialised mentorship and access to markets through corporate supply chains.

Mpilenhle Recycling collects cardboard, paper, tins and various plastic products from two buy-back centres monthly, sourcing recyclable materials from landfill sites, township collectors, shopping malls and office parks.

The business directly employs 58 people and has eight part-time staff, and financially incentivises over 570 people in both the Amajuba and Umzinyathi Districts in northern KwaZulu Natal.

“One of the key things that we as entrepreneurs are most proud of is our ability to impact the communities positively, including women who have no direct source of income and who are able to participate in recycling. They bring recyclable materials to Mpilenhle Recycling and receive money on the spot, which enables them to take care of their needs and the needs of their families,” says Makhoba.

Earlier this year, Mpilenhle Recycling established their third buy-back centre in Dundee and are focused in 2023 on further beneficiating their products and services. Their vision is to be the most innovative recycling business working with communities to recover recyclable materials in KwaZulu-Natal and are continually looking for better technologies and solutions to improve the company’s performance.

“We are proud that with the support that we had from Edge Growth, we have been able to grow this business into what it is today,” Makhoba says.

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

Edge Growth is a leading SME and Venture Fund Manager, specialising in developing small businesses and creating jobs and real transformation by connecting corporates and entrepreneurs, growing SMEs by addressing their key constraints: Access to finance, markets and skills. Our offering consists of three services areas, designed to achieve maximum IMPACT:
• ESD Strategy for corporates & building SMEs in their value chain
• Investing in and growing SMEs through fund management
• Scaling businesses to full potential through accelerator programmes