2011 Dell Social Innovation Challenge Winner: TakaTaka Solutions
|Affordable, eco-friendly waste management|
It's easy to take "trash day" for granted, but in many parts of the world people would welcome the opportunity to have their trash taken away.
Around 2.5 million people in the poverty-stricken city of Nairobi, Kenya have no way to dispose of their garbage. Food scraps, plastic bottles and bags, and other garbage fill the narrow streets, making them almost impassable while open waterways are clogged and contaminated, spreading disease. Garbage service is either not available or costs too much.
TakaTaka Solutions is turning waste into energy
|Thanks to TakaTaka Solutions, winner of the $50,000 Dell Social Innovation Challenge grand prize, the citizens of Nairobi now have an affordable and environmentally responsible option for garbage service. Instead of selling collected waste to ill-managed dump sites, as offered by existing businesses, TakaTaka Solutions composts 60 percent of the waste and sells it as organic fertilizer to Kenyan farmers. Recyclable materials are sold to recycling industries and the remaining 20 percent is sent to landfills, helping to create cleaner and healthier neighborhoods. This enables TakaTaka to significantly reduce costs to its customers, making the service affordable even for lower income areas. In the first month of operation, the company acquired 400 new household clients, hired 15 employees and composted 60 tons of waste.|
|Waste management is a major challenge in Kenya, where only 33 percent of waste is collected for disposal. The rest is littered, disposed of in illegal dumpsites near houses or burned, resulting in severe health and environmental problems.||Provide affordable, sustainable and eco-friendly waste management services to all income areas. Recover recyclable materials and compost organic waste using state-of-the-art technology.||TakaTaka Solutions creates a cleaner, healthier environment by composting or recycling 80 percent of waste collected and builds stronger communities through job creation.|
“Winning the Dell challenge was a tremendous boost. TakaTaka Solutions is now taken more seriously not only by donors and social investment funds but also by government organizations and NGOs. Largely due to this, TakaTaka Solutions has been able to multiply the Dell Social Innovation Challenge investment and has established a lot of credibility with social investment funds which can provide expansionary funding,” said TakaTaka creator Daniel Paffenholz, who named the venture after the Swahili word for "waste."
The Dell Social Innovation Challenge
The University of Texas, with support from Dell, is building a global community of student innovators through our annual Dell Social Innovation Challenge, and providing them with business mentors and cash prizes to solve the world's most pressing social issues. Since the challenge began in 2007, more than 15,000 students from 90 countries have proposed more than 3,000 ideas for tackling social and environmental problems. We’ve awarded more than $350,000 to teams from around the world who’ve had the courage, vision and passion to turn their "What Ifs" into action.
Turning unhealthy waste into a resource
Within months of winning the challenge, Daniel began using the prize money for general operational expenses and geographic information systems (GIS) to expand the business. Daniel is hiring a GIS analyst to map waste sources, client locations and other data to assist with logistical planning.
The concept for TakaTaka Solutions came to Germany-born Daniel when he was a graduate student at the London School of Economics. Daniel had been planning a career in investment banking when he was inspired to change his focus and find a solution to the waste disposal problem in Nairobi, where he had lived as a child. Daniel worked closely with the Waruku Youth Group in Nairobi to develop the venture and now collaborates with them through job creation and service delivery.
Daniel appreciates the support his team received from Dell mentor Antoine Boatwright while they were preparing their entry. Antoine, a senior executive at Dell, vetted their financials and coached the team on presentation skills, strengthening two vital components of their entry.
“To have a professional from a company like Dell to give you feedback on questions ranging from marketing to revenue models is significant.” said Daniel.