The Gold Mine; How Compost Production Is Re-Igniting The Hope For Better Livelihoods For The Urban Poor

With chemical fertilizers becoming more expensive, Malawian farmers are converting to organic alternatives. Compost manure is now more in demand as a result of this. Less than a year after receiving training in the creation of compost manure, the Mbayani garbage entrepreneurs are already seeing success from their business due to the growing demand.

Those who have been staring down at us as we go about collecting trash from Mbayani and other local marketplaces and households soon will experience our socio-economic revolution. – Frank Matokoso, an entrepreneur in community waste

The Mbayani compost and waste Recycling center is working with people from the communities of Mbayani and Chemusa, in the city of Blantyre. The centre is supporting communities in transforming waste into wealth through composting and recycling plastics into usable artefacts. The centre will support in reducing pollution at the Mbayani market and surrounding communities while providing new financial opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The centre has created employment for 34 people with 75% being women.

A 63 years old man – Timothy Kampira, is the oldest member of the group. Kampira a resident of Chemusa has always been a fishmonger and in late 2000 he acquired a loan from Pride Malawi to boost  his fishing business. However, all the money was stolen in Mangochi when he had gone to buy fish in bulk.          He had to square the loan and since he had put his hose as collateral, he lost it and has since lived in a rented house. Timothy is convinced that the more sales of compost manure he makes, the better chances he has to purchase land and construct a new house for his family. This is his five-year vision and he is already saving for this purpose. Since he started the business in August 2022,  Timothy  has produced and sold over 10 tons of compost manure. The business has made him a total of MK 1,085,000.  Timothy like many of his business associates at the composting centre is a multimillionaire in the making.

For the Mbayani waste entrepreneurs, selling compost as a source of livelihood offers a unique opportunity to address environmental challenges while also creating economic value. By finding  creative  and  innovative  ways  to  reduce, reuse, and repurpose waste, these informal settlement entrepreneurs are slowly but significantly creating a more sustainable city of Blantyre and indeed Malawi. In the future, the group desires to add value to their business by among other things, starting selling tree seedlings, Bio Gas and liquid fertilizer production, and producing new products from recycled plastics. Currently, the group is selling the compost manure on a small scale but they plan to secure large-scale markets             As of December 2022, Mbayani entrepreneurs have sold over 50 tons of waste.   

In Malawi, a local NGO, the Center for Community Organization and Development (CCODE), is supporting organized informal settlements to turn waste into wealth. The work in Mbayani is being supported by the German Development Assistance Association for Social Housing (Deswos) and the The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

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