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Winners of the Smart Township Challenge 2023: Chuma and Sbahle believe it will take the community to make Kayamandi a Smart Township, through Smart Trolley Recycling.

Entrepreneur of the Month: Smart Trolley Recycling

By Cebelihle Mthethwa.

The newly crowned winners of the Stellenbosch Network ‘Smart Township’ #Ideasforchange challenge, Chuma Lalendle & Sbahle Mgijima believe that it will take more than their innovative solution to make Kayamandi a Smart Township. The #Ideasforchange challenge an ideation competition on the hunt for new solutions to help transform Kayamandi into South Africa’s first Smart Township.

The challenge was born from the partnership with various stakeholders, including Lunttu, which is an initiative by Wesley Diphoko, who grew up in Kayamandi and sees technology and digital skills as a catalyst to transform the township into an inclusive micro-economy just like the newest winners of the challenge.

Chuma and Sbahle walked away with the R20 000 cash prize following the introduction of their Smart Trolley Recycling solution to minimize the overflow of landfills and encourage a recycling culture in Kayamandi. According to the duo, due to factors such as population growth, urbanisation, economic growth, and consumer shopping habits, humans produce large amounts of waste every year, which is increasingly becoming a major issue worldwide. With such immense volumes of waste arising, with landfills being the most popular end resort, the need for authorities to provide adequate waste treatment and disposal services has become ever more important.

“Being born and raised in Kayamandi, it’s difficult to be ignorant in seeing the backward system that we grow up in, at some point, we, as the youth – the future leaders- need to take the initiative. If there is an opportunity for us to step up and make the change that we want to see, then we should grab it and run with it. We are basically trying to eliminate the stigma around the saying that Black people are not progressive. Black people progress through education and seeing other successful black people do things,” says Sbahle.

According to Chuma, the two met at a Smart Kayamandi workshop, hosted by Stellenbosch Network and Lunttu, and with their passion for sustainable community projects, the two came up with Smart Trolley Recycling.

Chuma notes: “Through a needs-assessment and observation, we have discovered that the system of waste pickers is rather informal, and the physical labour is strenuous and tedious. The aim is to formalise it by creating a product whereby the Smart Trolley functions independently, making the whole process a much more pleasant experience for waste pickers. The idea is to improve the collection process of waste pickers in Kayamandi and get the community involved in recycling to foster a responsible green community.”

The project has three beneficiaries: the waste collectors that go into household bins before the municipal waste removal arrives, the households within Kayamandi and the Stellenbosch Municipality.

Although the bright-eyed entrepreneurs have a promising vision for Kayamandi, they are also wary of the milestones they must reach regarding getting the municipality’s buy-in, as the project aims to incentivise households that adhere to the culture of recycling. These envisioned incentives will compromise of electricity units, data, coffee vouchers etc.

Chuma and Sbahle added that technology will play a pivotal role in the inception of their project, as the Smart Trolley is created based on technology, using tech advances to create an efficient trolley. The trolley will include a power assist function, to enable efficiency when the primary stakeholders (waste collectors) push the waste, and it will have compartments, to sort the different types of waste. The team wanted to better enable people already in the waste collection system through innovation and technology.

“The Stellenbosch Network has done exceptional work in spreading the word about our innovative idea to the rest of Stellenbosch. Our next step is to focus on getting funding to further our dream of making Kayamandi a Smart Township,” Chuma and Sbahle conclude.