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Joel Tembo Vwira is a social-business entrepreneur living in Goma, DRC. He recognised a social need and business solution to the growing problem of waste disposal in the war ravaged town of Goma, North Eastern DRC. Alongside work in Church and community mobilisation, he established a waste and services company that collects and recycles waste. Joel is now looking at how to expand his social enterprise to other African cities.
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Joel Tembo Vwira is a graduate of the University of Goma with a business degree. He is leading a movement to transform the streets of Goma.
When Joel grew up, he regularly passed mountains of waste that the community produced and dumped in the streets. He was saddened by the sight of local children playing in the waste and by the fact that his local church was not responding to the problem, not even on the street where they worshipped every week.
The government also seemed to lack the ability to tackle the problem, sending one truck every six months to take away the waste. This did little to reduce the every growing piles of rubbish littering the streets.
Being concerned about waste management in Goma, he determined to do something about it.
After completing school, Joel decided to address the waste management problem in Goma. His approach was twofold: recruiting the church's involvement and starting a waste management business.
He first mobilized his church to respond to the problem. Each weekend, he would lead local youth around the city picking up rubbish that had been dumped on the streets. He then created a business to address the source of the rubbish from local homes and commercial businesses.
His company provides rubbish bins to homes and businesses which are picked up each week by a rubbish truck. Alongside a Church and community mobilisation initiative, the mountain of waste disappeared.
Joel then began to branch out in other related enterprises like recycling and teaching people how to compost waste food in order to produce fertilizers to sell to local farmers. He has become a tireless advocate for clean streets and healthy environments, especially as it relates to waste management and recycling.
Today he has over 1,000 clients and employs over 30 families. The local government now requires all local hotels and government offices to take a subscription to his services. In 2009, Joel was presented an award by the European Union, Goma office for his work in keeping Goma clean.