The idea for Got Paper was born when Rammitloa attended a waste management summit hosted by Proudly SA and Pikitup in August 2016. She later did her research and discovered that up to 90% of companies in Soweto did not recycle their paper. She then started collecting wastepaper from two schools and two offices and sold it to buyback centres. She officially launched Got Paper in January 2017.
“The main mode of disposing of waste for most South Africans is at landfill sites, which are costly to maintain and are harmful to the environment,” explains Rammitloa. “Some 90% of the contents in an average bin are recyclable. By recycling wastepaper, government can reduce the current R100 million spent on maintaining landfill sites and illegal dumping per annum. Furthermore, for every one metric tonne of paper recycled, the energy saved in the production process is enough to power 512 average-sized homes a year.”
Building a business
In 2016, Rammitloa was selected to participate in a three-month programme called AccelerateHer. The programme provided 25 female entrepreneurs with access to developmental workshops, high-impact business development support and mentoring from industry specialists and experienced entrepreneurs to fast-track their development. Rammitloa was chosen as a runner-up and received R25 000 in funding for her business. She was also selected to be part of a six-month Awethu incubation programme, which she completed in March 2017.
“Participating in both programmes taught me that you have to have an expansive knowledge about your field of trade in order to get the most out of it. You have to be an avid reader and always be pitch-ready, as there is no knock-off time when you are an entrepreneur. I also gained expertise in terms of tracking my numbers in this volume-driven business,” she says.
Plans and projections
Since launching Got Paper earlier this year, Rammitloa collects wastepaper from schools and companies on a weekly basis and transports it using her car and a trailer. She stores the paper in a storeroom at her house and sells it to buy-back centres. She currently has six suppliers of wastepaper and has helped recycle five tons thus far.
“The company is growing step-by-step. I plan to use the R25 000 I received in funding to improve my branding and secure a facility to store the paper. I will be designing branded bins to place in the schools and offices to make the recycling and sorting of waste easier. I will also pursue training at the Institute of Waste Management of South Africa to further my knowledge,” says Rammitloa.
Looking ahead, she envisions recovering up to 30 tons of waste paper per month, which will reduce the cost to municipalities and free up space at landfill sites and intends on partnering up with paper manufacturing companies to become their official supplier of recyclable paper. She also plans to work closely with schools in Soweto to educate learners on the importance of recycling.
What advice does Rammitloa have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Don’t wait for ideal conditions to launch your business, as there is no such thing. Do your research, validate your idea and just start!”