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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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Nigerien President, Mohamed Bazoum wants employment quotas for African immigrants

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Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum wants employment quotas for African immigrants tailored to job needs from European countries.

President Bazoum made the position in an interview with an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica. on Friday.

The president’s argument is that the quota will address European countries’ needs for its labour market and could help resolve the problem of illegal migration and human trafficking.

“In France, Spain, and Italy you have many jobs in sectors of employment where Africans can work,” Bazoum said.

“These numbers need to be established, country by country, and then the consulates entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing them.”

Surveys of African migrants in or heading toward Europe reveal that the majority were either employed or in school at the time of their departure. Yet, they felt despair over their economic prospects.

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IMF Chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, to visit China over Africa’s growing debt profile

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As the debt profile of many African countries continues to rise, the International Monetary Fund strategy chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu will travel to China next week for another high-level meeting.

Her travel is part of efforts to press the world’s largest sovereign creditor for quicker progress on debt restructurings for countries in need.

The IMF chief had called for debt restructuring arrangements for Zambia and Chad to be completed shortly.

Pazarbasioglu said it was critical to move forward and that “outreach to China next week is very important, at the highest levels.”

“It’s moving – very slowly, but it’s moving,” Pazarbasioglu said, noting that the participation of mining company Glencore Plc in the Chad treatment was also “a very good sign” that “even the most difficult private sector participants” were participating.

She said the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors had taken years to hammer out their debt relief processes, and China was learning, although she noted that the debt issues facing borrowing countries now were acute.

“The problem we have is that we don’t have that time right now because these countries are very fragile and dealing with debt vulnerabilities,” she said. “What we need is speed.”

Pazarbasioglu said the IMF would continue to press for changes to the Common Framework, including a freeze in debt payments when countries apply for a debt treatment, as well as clearer procedures and timelines for action, and ensuring comparable treatment for private creditors.

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