HOW SOUTH AFRICAN WOMAN, REABETSWE NGWANE MAKES TRENDY BAGS FROM USED TYRE TUBES.

The business’ main focus is recycling tyre tubes to make fashionable bags. she did what most wouldn’t think of – she consulted with the people pushing trolleys on the side of road recycling scrap.

The ambitious Ngwane, raised in Mogwase, a township in Rustenburg in the North West Province of South Africa, recycles tyre tubes for a living, and has been able to turn waste to wealth. Ngwane’s entrepreneurial journey unraveled when she relocated from the township to the city in Rustenburg where she started her first business with a friend. They recycled plastic bags, turning them into school bags with solar lanterns, provided to kids in underprivileged areas. Unfortunately, that partnership did not last.

Ngwane discussed how she started her business with Forbes Africa recently

“They work extensively at the mine fields; in a nutshell, they are industry experts. We went to them, consulted with them. [About an] alternative to plastic, because that’s all I knew. I asked them ‘what else I could use as a resource to make up products’ and they advised on the tyre tubes and it became a business,” she says.

The whole process begins by transporting the tyre tubes to one of their work sites where they wash, clean and refurbish them. They are then taken to a production factory where they are cut into respective patterns depending on orders.

Ngwane has her products in a store, Mememe, in Cape Town in the Western Cape, and another in South African capital Pretoria, called In Bloom. She also takes orders online. Her bags range from R500 ($43) to R1,400 ($120).
She not only recycles tyre tubes to create trendy bags, but also makes products for the mining and construction industries.“The retail industry is not as mass-orientated as the mining and construction industry. With the retail industry, it depends on how many orders of these we get, how many orders of backpacks we make, and then the patterns are made and then the bags. With regards to mining and construction, there are three sets of products we provide to them,” she says.

Ngwane is the first to break into this kind of market, she says.

SOURCE: Forbes Africa

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