#WIB – Q&A With Linda Kaumphawi Founder Of Evergreen Technical Solutions

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1. Can you please tell us more about your business?

Evergreen Technical Solutions is currently in the development and prototyping stage. Despite being in the early phases, our vision and commitment to addressing waste management, climate change, and poverty in Africa remain unwavering.

At this stage, we are diligently working on refining our innovative waste bag design to ensure it meets the highest standards of sustainability and functionality. Our team is actively engaged in testing and optimizing the waste bag’s two-compartment system to make it user-friendly and adaptable to various bin types.

Simultaneously, we are fine-tuning our mobile recycling service, which will bring recycling facilities directly to communities. We’re exploring cutting-edge sorting technologies to maximize recycling efficiency and collaborating with local waste pickers to create green job opportunities.

The Green Points program is also under development, with the aim of creating a seamless and rewarding experience for users who actively participate in responsible waste management practices.

Furthermore, our e-dumpsite platform is being designed to serve as a robust and efficient circular marketplace for waste transactions, contributing to both waste reduction and economic empowerment.

2. When, how and why did you start your business?

I began conceptualizing Evergreen Technical Solutions in 2018 when I witnessed the dire need for effective waste management services in my community. The absence of formal waste collection services led to the proliferation of illegal dumping sites, severely affecting the cleanliness and well-being of the community.

Motivated by this pressing issue, I embarked on extensive research to identify sustainable solutions that could simultaneously address waste management, climate change, and poverty. This research journey continued over the years, allowing me to refine and shape the components of Evergreen.

In February of this year, we took a significant step by formally registering Evergreen Technical Solutions as a business entity. This formalization marked our commitment to turning the concept into a tangible reality and addressing the critical challenges our community and many others across Africa face.

Our journey began with a vision to make a meaningful impact by revolutionizing waste management, and it has since evolved into a mission-driven business focused on creating lasting change.

3. What is your role in the business?

As the founder of Evergreen Technical Solutions, my role is multifaceted and encompasses various aspects of the business’s development and operation.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

I studied at the University of South Africa, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Management. Currently, I am furthering my education by pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma in Risk Management at the same institution. My academic background in environmental management has greatly informed my work at Evergreen Technical Solutions, aligning well with our mission of promoting sustainable waste management practices and environmental conservation.

5. How did you finance your business?

Evergreen Technical Solutions has been primarily financed through a combination of personal savings and an award. Notably, in November of last year, we were honored to win the YALI Digitization of Waste Management Challenge, which provided us with valuable financial support and recognition for our efforts.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

In my dynamic daily routine, I wear multiple hats as a postgraduate student, entrepreneur, and climate activist.

Simultaneously, I’m deeply involved in Evergreen Technical Solutions, where my role spans refining business strategies and exploring innovative waste management solutions. My entrepreneurial journey has been enriched by my participation in the Mercedes-Benz Bevisioneers Fellowship, which exposes me to a diverse cohort of innovators, offering fresh insights and strategies for Evergreen’s growth.

Additionally, my engagement in the IRENA NewGen Accelerator Program keeps me immersed in the world of renewable energy and climate solutions, involving webinars, brainstorming sessions, and networking opportunities. My voluntary role as the Climate Change Lead in Agriculture at SAYCCC (South African Youth Climate Change Coalition) requires coordination of climate initiatives and collaboration with fellow youth activists.

One of my significant daily endeavor is developing a comprehensive training curriculum for waste pickers which is going quite well.

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?

Regarding work-life balance, to be honest, it doesn’t really exist for me at the moment. I’m constantly busy with various commitments and finding that perfect equilibrium between work and personal life can be quite challenging. But I’m passionate about what I do, and I believe in the value of the projects I’m involved in. So, even though it’s a juggling act, I’m fully dedicated to making it work.

8. What drives you and inspires you?

What drives me and inspires me is the potential for positive change. The belief that we can create a better world, where waste is managed sustainably, poverty is reduced, and the impacts of climate change are mitigated, keeps me motivated. Witnessing the resilience and determination of waste pickers and local communities, who are willing to work hard for a cleaner and greener future, is a constant source of inspiration. Additionally, being part of initiatives like the Mercedes Benz BeVisioneers Fellowship and the IRENA NewGen Accelerator Program, where I collaborate with like-minded individuals and organizations, fuels my drive to make a meaningful impact.

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

I find that my best ideas often emerge during collaborative discussions and interactions with others. Whether it’s brainstorming sessions with fellow BeVisioneers or engaging in dialogues with experts in the field, these exchanges of ideas and perspectives tend to spark innovative solutions and fresh insights. It’s in these dynamic and diverse conversations that I discover new approaches and possibilities, making collaboration a catalyst for creativity.

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

Currently, we are in the development and prototyping stage, so we haven’t initiated full-scale marketing and advertising for our products. Our focus has been on refining our solutions, establishing partnerships, and conducting trials and tests to ensure our offerings meet the highest standards. Once we have market-ready products, we plan to employ a multi-faceted marketing strategy.

This will include a strong online presence through our website and social media platforms, participation in relevant industry events and expos, collaborating with waste management associations, and engaging in targeted outreach to potential clients and partners. Our aim is to create a comprehensive marketing plan that not only showcases our innovative solutions but also highlights the positive impact they can have on waste management, poverty alleviation, and climate change mitigation in Africa.

11. What is next for your business?

The next phase for our business is centred on transitioning from the development and prototyping stage to full-scale implementation. We are actively working on finalizing our product designs, conducting comprehensive testing and trials, and refining our operational processes. Additionally, we are in the process of securing strategic partnerships and collaborations with organizations in the waste management, recycling, and environmental sectors. These partnerships will be instrumental in scaling our solutions and expanding our reach.

In the coming months, we aim to launch pilot projects to validate the effectiveness and efficiency of our waste management solutions in real-world settings. These pilot projects will allow us to gather valuable data, user feedback, and performance insights, which will be crucial for further optimization.

12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

My advice is just start. Even when you are unsure, start. There are a lot of good things beyond the walls of fear. Do not be stopped by the lack of money; where there is a vision, there will always be provision. You are more than capable. Embrace your uniqueness as a female entrepreneur, learn from feedback, and prioritize self-care. Collaborate, set boundaries, seek mentorship, and give back to your community. Persistence is key, and staying informed is vital. Celebrate every step, as your passion, determination, and resilience empower you to overcome challenges and achieve your goals. Keep believing in yourself, and there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.

Find more here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/evergreen-technical-solutions-ets/?originalSubdomain=za