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Picture: 123RF/ALPHA SPIRIT
Picture: 123RF/ALPHA SPIRIT

The business opportunity that lies in taking out waste from business processes as part of the growing environment, social and governance (ESG) issues trend, is the focus on this edition of the Business Day Spotlight.

Host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Fetola CEO Catherine Wijnberg. Fetola, which means “change” in Sesotho, is a small business specialist firm.

Wijnberg says SA needs entrepreneurs to reverse the shrinking economy and high unemployment rate. “And while they face numerous barriers in almost every sector, there is one industry that offers them the key to success: the circular economy.”

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She explains the circular economy consists of businesses that focus on eliminating waste. Circular thinking goes beyond the “reduce, reuse and recycle” focus in the green sector to design out waste altogether.

It promotes sustainability by ensuring that raw materials and products are instead recycled, repaired and reused. The focus on waste reduction means improved efficiency and greater profit margins, Wijnberg says.

Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI
Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI

The sector offers entrepreneurs number of business opportunities.

Almost 90% of SA’s waste ends up in landfills — but recycling, refurbishing, redesigning or remanufacturing this waste could unlock millions of rand in economic growth. This sector has been identified as a key part of SA’s post-Covid-19 Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

Wijnberg  argues that the circular economy offers other advantages, such as lower start-up costs compared to other sectors and a growing market for sustainable solutions globally. In addition, “businesses with significant [positive] social and environmental impact have a growing appeal to consumers who want to feel good about the future,” she says.

Topics of discussion include: Fetola’s business model; the rationale for investing in the circular economy; making ESG issues top of mind in SA; ways in which businesses can design their operations to eliminate waste from the start; and the business case for ESG focus beyond being a simple “tick-box” exercise.

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 Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production.

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