Another Man’s Treasure

The story of K1 recycling is the story of hope, and one man’s ingenuity in the face of insurmountable circumstances.

From Trolley Pusher to Business Owner

Tshepo Mazibuko and his wife, Thando, are testament to the fact that if you hold on long enough, and fight hard enough, anything is possible.

After 5 years of unemployment, many of us would have given up hope of getting another chance. But with a wife and child to support, Tshepo didn’t give up. He persevered until eventually he was he was introduced to the world of a group that are synonymous with Johannesburg – the trolley pushers, the city’s informal waste collection service.
The rest, as they say, is history…



Tshepo The Trolley Pusher

Tshepo creates an opportunity for himself by becoming a trolley pusher. He sources a trolley and a bag, and begins collecting waste. He starts to notice waste all around him in his township, Katlehong.

From Humble Beginnings

After 18 months, Tshepo noticed something else: one of the biggest challenges for collecting waste was transporting it back to buy-back centres. None of these locations were near the townships, meaning that collectors had to spend a large portion of their day travelling to these locations and back home. After speaking to his fellow collectors and gaining their support, Tshepo’s wife, Thando, secured a loan to buy a second-hand bakkie, and Tshepo began to act as a middle-man for collectors, transporting their goods to buy-back centres using the bakkie. He offered the collectors convenience in exchange for buying their materials at a reduced price. His earnings weren’t great, but knowing that he was making the lives of his colleagues easier while creating greater opportunities to support his family made the struggle worth it

K1 Is Born

The next challenge that Tshepo ran across proved to be the starting point for what was to become K1 Recycling and Waste Management. He began to store bags of waste for transport to the buy-back centres, but he soon ran out of space. He heard about the SAB Kickstart Entrepreneurship Programme – a two week business bootcamp – and applied. Despite his lack of business experience, he was accepted and was taught the basics of business management. He decided that it was time to grow his business further, and approached a number of governmental funding bodies for assistance with growing his business but was rejected due to the inexperienced nature of his business plan. Finally, he approached Anglo Zimele, Anglo American’s SA enterprise and development fund, who agreed to fund him despite the messy nature of his presentation, because they believed in him and his passion. Tshepo secured funding to start a buy-back centre in the township and purchase two more vehicles, including a four-ton truck. He also secured a baling machine, which allows the materials to be processed further.

Today: Katlehong, Tomorrow: South Africa

K1 Recycling currently collects over 80 tons of waste per month, and the number is growing larger every day. With an annual turnover of R2 000 000 and an indirect workforce of more than 1000 collectors, K1 is creating an economy within the bustling sprawl of Katlehong that allows unemployed women to provide for their families and gets children off the streets. But Tshepo and Thando don’t plan on stopping there. K1 is now focusing on the processing side of the business: Tshepo has undergone training in the processing of recyclable plastics and has approached investors to raise funds for the required equipment.


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