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Tanzanian company sees opportunity in waste management

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Tanzania-based Phenix Recycling is a bespoke waste management and recycling service for businesses in eastern and southern Africa. Athina Kyriakopoulou, founder and CEO, spoke with Justin Probyn, author of this report.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

Businesses across the East Africa region are struggling with the issue of how to responsibly manage their waste. At the same time, local innovative startups using waste as a resource are lacking reliable and predictable access to their waste. Phenix Recycling is connecting the two, creating an “uninterrupted power supply” for waste and enabling a circular economy across geographies, industries and sectors.

2. How did you finance your startup?

To date, Phenix has been funded solely by founder capital of around US$50,000. This gave us a two-year runway in which we piloted three versions of our business model, and successfully serviced clients across two countries and two industries.

3. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?

That investment would be spent on purchasing new equipment and setting up long-term hubs in two of our main locations. This includes machinery and items that would allow us to work more efficiently and reduce the upstream cost of our services by making our processed material more valuable downstream.

Read also: Tanzania, Uganda deepen economic ties with deal for supply of gas

4. What risks does your business face?

Phenix is one of the first of its kind therefore at the forefront of a new formal industry. This means that we are competing with informal sectors while trying to build the awareness around the need for our services. Navigating the regulatory environment is also a challenge as we have an innovative businesses model that is not fully regulated yet.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

By far the best form of marketing is word of mouth through business networks. As a new company and trying to build a new industry, happy and satisfied business customers are the key to acquiring new customers. Particularly in established industries like tourism, where businesses tend to follow the pack. Once you have your foot in the door by satisfying a few key leaders in their field, the rest will follow and it won’t be long until its “industry standard”.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

When I received my first revenue. Running a B2B business is drastically different from B2C, in that clients take a lot longer to acquire, sometimes over eight months; particularly your first clients. So when I had my first paying client, it was a huge success and milestone.

7. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what have you’ve learnt from it?

I think my biggest mistake was making operational investments into teams and facilities before having the customers signed and sealed. No matter how promising a customer is, they aren’t a customer until pen touches paper. Also, during the validation phase, a customer who signs up with a huge discount, does not validate willingness nor the ability to pay for the service. You need customers who pay full price to prove your model.

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Farmers lament as wild fire, heat waves cut grain harvest in Tunisia

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Farmers union in Tunisia has forecasted that output will fall well short of government hopes following heat waves and fires that are badly damaging the country’s grain harvest.

Farmers union official Mohamed Rejaibia, pointing to fires that began raging over much of the country last month, said that was no longer possible.

“The grain harvest will not be more than 1.4 million tonnes,” said Rejaibia, a member of the union’s executive office. “Some of it will be lost to fires and some perhaps during collection.”

The North African country has struggled with food importation costs driven higher by the war in Ukraine. That is largely because Ukraine and Russia account for a great amount of the global supply for grains, particularly wheat.

Earlier this month, agriculture minister, Mhamoud Elyess Hamza forecasted the 2022 grain harvest would reach 1.8 million tonnes, that is 10% up from last year’s harvest.

Wild fire has had a devastating effect in Tunisia. According to a statement released by the Tunisian Federation of Insurance Companies (FTUSA), the insurance industry in the country paid fire insurance claims totalling TND25m ($8m) in 2015 and the quantum jumped over the years to TND107m in 2020. That represented an average increase over 30% a year.

Another farmer, Abderraouf Arfaoui, in Krib, revealed that most of his colleagues had to harvest their grains earlier than usual.

“Usually we begin the harvest season in July, but this year we started on June 18… we are afraid of fires. We must watch our land day and night.

“We must harvest without waiting, even if that reduces the quantity and quality of the wheat, and when we finish the harvest we must watch our haystacks, too.”

 According to Thinkhazard, wildfire hazard is classified as high with more than a 50% chance of encountering weather that could support a significant wildfire that is likely to result in both life and property loss in any given year.

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Zimbabwe’s central bank raises key rate to 200%. Will that help its inflation surge?

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Zimbabwe’s economic woes continue as the Southern African country’s central bank said it was raising its key rate to 200 percent.

The decision makes Zimbabwe’s rate the highest in the world as it battles with soaring inflation persist. The rate was last raised to 80% in April from 60%.

The central bank a statement said it had more than doubled the rate in the push to try to contain inflation, which has been further aggravated by the war in Ukraine, expressing “great concern”.

The key rate is the interest rate at which banks can borrow when they fall short of their required reserves. They may borrow from other banks or directly from the Federal Reserve for a very short period of time.

According to thecentral bank governor, John Mangudya,rising inflation has depressed demand and consumer confidence and if left unchecked will wipe out the significant economic gains made over the past two years.

Zimbabwe’s economy is in deep crisis, including a withdrawal of international donors because of unsustainable debt with inflation rate in Zimbabwe averaging 80.42 percent between 2009 and 2022.

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