From banker to waste manager: one student’s journey to turn waste into social, enviro- and economic good

Meet Daniel Paffenholz, a 24-year-old German-born student at the London School
of Economics, who decided to redirect his career path from banking to tackle a
huge social issue: waste management in Kenya. Together with Felix Inuani Isiaho
from Zetech College, Jomo Kenyatta University in Nairobi, he founded TakaTaka
, winner of the 2011 Dell Social
Innovation Competition

“TakaTaka Solutions is a social enterprise based in Nairobi, Kenya. Our goal is
to provide affordable and environmentally friendly waste management services to
all income areas (‘Takataka’ means waste in Swahili). Waste management in
developing countries, such as Kenya, currently provides huge challenges. In
Nairobi around 66% of the population does not have access to waste management
services, as they are too expensive. As a consequence, non-collected waste is
littered next to houses, rivers or burned. This has severe health and
environmental consequences.

TakaTaka Solutions partners with youth groups engaged in waste collection in
lower income areas. Through decentralised waste buying points (‘TakaTaka
Points’), TakaTaka Solutions will buy up to 80% of their collected waste. The
organic waste will be turned into organic fertilizer; recyclable waste (paper,
plastic, glass and metal) will be separated and sold to recycling industries.
Through this business model, youth groups save waste disposal costs while
receiving income from the sales of waste. This allows them to offer affordable
waste collection services at only 1 USD per household per month, while
increasing their income by 4 times. This business model makes TakaTaka Solutions
a global pioneer in providing affordable waste management services to lower
income areas.

Being part of the Dell Social Innovation
has been a great experience! In particular, the mentorship
program has been hugely instrumental, not only for our success in the
competition but also for the business in general.  We worked together with our
Dell mentor on the business plan, the video as well as the final presentation. 
Over a period of more than a month, our mentor committed around 15 hours of his
time to help us (he even provided last minute feedback the morning before the
final presentation while in a meeting!). His input on questions ranging from
marketing to business strategy helped TakaTaka Solutions to take its business
model and fundraising strategy to the next level.  TakaTaka Solutions’ first
prize in the competition surely would not have been possible without him! Thank
you Antoine!

finalist weekend of the competition in Austin
was amazing for so many
reasons. Meeting with the other finalists, great workshops, exciting finalist
pitches, the even more exciting award event, delicious American pancakes,
Austin’s relaxing atmosphere…just to mention a few. But what was most memorable
was the spirit of enthusiasm prevalent during the whole weekend. It was not
about one team winning over the other but about encouraging each other as well
as being part of a growing movement for social innovation. TakaTaka Solutions is
looking forward to deepening the relationships with the other finalists,
especially as some of the finalists will be based in Nairobi too. Thank you to
Dell for a great weekend and a great competition!!”

To learn more about the Dell Social Innovation Competition and other Good
efforts, follow us on Twitter at @Dell4Good.

About the Author: Carly Tatum