Not many of us think about the utensils we use when we braai. We just prepare the fire, add briquettes or charcoal, and then let the good times roll.
Three young women, Elizabeth Ntoagae (32), Maipato Makhetha (31) and Lerato Lekhetho (28), from Mafora, an area in Bloemfontein, are redefining the way we braai through their eco-friendly briquettes made from cardboard, recycled water and sawdust. Their product, EcoQuettes, is meant to “Light up the Future” and contribute towards cleaning up the community, considering factors that affect climate change. The whole product is made from recyclable products.
They make the briquettes by using water, old paper, cardboard and then sawdust, mixing all these until a mâchè is formed. The blend goes into a compressor, which then forms the briquettes into a cylinder shape. Lastly, the ladies let these cylinders dry out in the sun by arranging them on crates. Thereafter the entire product is packaged. The innovative trio also add that they source 100% of the materials they use from the community – even the paper and cardboard – which they collect on certain days of the week from community members who want to throw these materials away. In addition to creating an eco-friendly product, they are also cleaning up the community they live in. In many ways, this seems like the perfect product due to its eco-friendliness, its cost-effectiveness and the contribution they are making by cleaning up the community.
The aspiring entrepreneurs are being assisted by the international student organisation called Enactus, which focuses on developing the community through entrepreneurship. Enactus has helped them by donating a compressing machine that helps produce the briquettes in the cylinder shape they come in. Though they say they have to only deal with small orders at the moment as the machine does not have the capacity for large volumes, they are grateful for the aid Enactus has provided since they began operating earlier on in April this year.
The three founders of EcoQuettes say they were tired of being unemployed and after several business ideas had failed, they finally came up with this idea in April 2016. They are in the process of registering their company so that they can apply for various programmes that will enable them to manage their business better and have a wider audience to reach.
Although they lack funding, equipment and infrastructure, they remain true ladies at heart. Makhetha, who has just had a manicure, says: “Getting your hands dirty doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of them.” – Pulane Choane
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For more information about the EcoQuettes contact the following persons:
- Bayo 073 736 0110
- Lerato 078 592 5441
- Ouma 071 528 3123
Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org