Ecopreneurship a viable way to stimulate the economy

26 June 2020 | Columns

Desmond Kheibeb

In the last few years it seems as we have created an unstoppable chain of events which has led to the issue of climate change becoming a challenge we may not be able to face successfully. Here in Namibia we see and feel the results every day. Lack of rain, soil erosion, dying cattle and harvests which are not nearly sufficient to feed the nation, and the drought is seemingly endless. This all has a major impact on our economy and we are constantly battling to save jobs, companies and try and make a living any which way.

The fact of the matter is though that these massive climate change challenges also brings opportunities for the right -minded entrepreneur. Just think of solar panels, water-saving devices and even turning people’s lawns into water-wise gardens. There are opportunities everywhere; you just have to be bold enough as an entrepreneur, or ‘ecopreneur’ if you will. Ecopreneurship, according to Wikipedia; “is a term coined to represent the process of principles of entrepreneurship being applied to create businesses that solve environmental problems or operate sustainably. The term began to be widely used in the 1990s, and it is otherwise referred to as "environmental entrepreneurship." One of the major reasons we are facing the climate emergency is because we simply do not re-use, reduce and recycle where we can. This means that we often rather throw things away, instead of seeing how they may be repurposed. In Namibia a good example of this wastage and a wasted money-making opportunity is the discarding of rubber tyres.

Recycled tyre rubber is used all over the world for many different products. Industries that use recycled rubber or ‘black gold’ as it is often called, can create major cost and energy savings and in turn implement an environmentally clean way of getting rid of used tyres that would otherwise clog up a landfill. The metal wire in the tyre, the rubber itself and the canvas that holds together the tyres can all be extracted and re-used. Imagine, people are just throwing good money away. As an ecopreneur we see it as our duty to take care of the planet, or at least our little spot that is Namibia, and by repurposing the tyres we can make a big positive environmental impact and make money at the same time.

The tyre recycling industry is widely accepted by government departments as being environmentally friendly, and the process does not generate environmental waste or discharge. There’s a myriad of uses for the granulated rubber from recycled tyres and it is already used throughout the rubber and plastic industry in the world. Some of the applications and uses are: automotive components, tyres, building products, roofing materials, coating and sealants, containers for hazardous waste, shoes and shoe soles and various other products with new uses are being developed constantly.

As an entrepreneur who prides himself on also being an ecopreneur as well it is my dream to never see a tyre on the side of the road or in a landfill again. People need to start seeing dollar signs when they see discarded tyres and bring them to collection points for recycling and re-purposing. It is the way in which Namibians can make a little money whilst at the same time helping the planet and creating new business and employment opportunities locally. Truly embracing entrepreneurship and ecopreneurship.

*Desmond Kheibeb is a managing partner at Deneras Investments.

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